Queer History is the flavour of the month right now, with the UK celebrating 50 years since the partial-decriminalisation of Homosexuality via the Sexual Offences Act 1967. Partial because decriminalisation ended at age 21, any man or teenager under that age were not deemed consenting adults, so eligible for the long arm of the law. The legal age of consent was reduced to 18 in 1994 and to 16 in 2001.
Coming out is a tough enough process in itself, for the majority, especially to oneself, let alone family, friends and co-workers. Fuelled with trepidation, projection and fear of rejection, we often have no method to follow, no manual or mentor. Thankfully the internet and You Tube ‘Coming Out’ vids at least offers examples, ideas and results to savour.
Ancestry websites and a certain TV programme support the opportunity to discover your own family history as a genetic thread to WHO YOU ARE, complete with family secrets, mis-told information about past relatives, family illnesses, physical, emotional and mental conditions but no birth, marriage or death certificate is going mention Queer, Homosexual or Gay.
You are probably the first in your family to be OUT. Honour it.
My own experience of releasing genetic shame around a differing sexuality came about reading a book in the early nineties, right in the middle of the AIDS epidemic.
I got sent two books, one still in print, one not. The first was Spirit and the Flesh : Sexual Diversity in American Indian Culture ( in print ) and Rictor Norton’s Mother Clap’s Molly House : the Gay Subculture in England 1700-1830, detailed court records of meeting places, crimes of same-sex activity and the hangman’s noose for a rumble fumble in alley-ways, cruising grounds and latrines.
It taught me that giving myself THE GIFT OF QUEER HISTORY told me who I was, could be, and how I could drop the shame that Oscar Wilde called “the love that dare not speak its name” at his trial for gross indecency. Not Wilde’s prose, as many think, but a line from ‘Bosie’, Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred Douglas’s fair-handed poem “Two Loves” in 1894.
A few months ago Peter Ackroyd published Queer City : Gay London from the Romans to the present day, and it’s a real historical TREAT. Who knew that sodomy was so popular?
Do check out the Reviews online and discover the genetic link between you and Roman Soldiers, Middle Age Monks, the Vice of the Normans, Georgian Coffee House Mollies, Dandies, Queens at Court, Renters, Cottagers, 20th Century Clubbers and PRIDE as it is today.
This is your MAP, your family, your spirit lineage and shame-based facility to crush, to rise up from, and give yourself THE GIFT OF HISTORY to nurture, OWN and honour a path well trodden.