Armed Forces, Bigots, Books, Equalities, LGBT, Politics, Religion

Closet Queens

Coldstream GuardsWhen, one winter’s night in 1958, Ian Harvey (a minor apparatchik in Her Maj’s Government of the day) was caught pleasuring a Coldstream Guard in the bushes of London’s St James’s Park, Winston Churchill is said to have remarked,

On the coldest night of the year? It makes you proud to be British.

Closet QueensI laughed when I read this but it does reveal the barefaced hypocrisy of the ruling class at the time with their do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do attitude to sexual shenanigans. Boy-on-boy activity was on the menu at every British public (i.e. private) school and fagging* was the dish of the day, whereas us plebs could be banged up for even the briefest of fumbles behind the bike sheds. Many were. Now there’s a fascinating new book that prises open the Establishment’s closet door and shines a torch into the dank recesses. Closet Queens by Michael Bloch is a survey of alleged gay or bisexual male politicians of the Twentieth Century. From tittle-tattle to open secrets, it’s an amusing read. But what about the plaster saints of the cassock class? There are a quite a few bones rattling away in the rectory, or so I’ve heard.

As for Mr Harvey, he got off lightly with a small fine and a slap on the wrist but he was forced to resign his ministerial position. For a Tory, he sounds quite a decent sort of chap. He paid the errant soldier’s fine and returned to his wife and kids with his tail between his legs. From 1972 onwards, he was the Vice-President of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. And that’s not all. In 1980 he became Chairman of the Conservative Group for Homosexual Equality. Blimey. I didn’t know there was a Conservative Group for Homosexual Equality. In fact, until fairly recently, I’d never seen the words ‘Conservative’ and ‘homosexual equality’ in the same sentence. To be fair, equality wasn’t exactly high on Old Labour’s agenda either. Your average salt of the earth, red blooded working class bloke wasn’t really into poofters; unless it was behind the bike sheds, of course.

*A fag was a young pupil who provided a personal service to one or more older boys. Well, you can just imagine what that involved.

9 thoughts on “Closet Queens

  1. Ah, the olden days. I remember once in 1980 queuing at the Police Station to present my documents after a car accident only for the Desk Sergeant to look over my shoulder as his previous customer departed, sigh and confide in me ‘That’s the second bloody poofter I’ve had to deal with today.’ I smiled and advised him that he’d just scored a hat-trick. It took a while for the penny to drop…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know. Can you imagine? Having said that, it was Conservative Government that introduced same sex marriage in the UK so they have come an awfully long way. I know it’s different in the States but the victory is won. Let’s hope it sticks.

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