Gay Times celebrates its 400th issue this month; the premier magazine for men of a homosexual bent first appeared in 1974. Like most things gay back then, it was a slightly underground affair, appearing under the coy title HIM Exclusive.
A celebratory article in the current issue lists “Defining Moments” that have taken place between then and now, running the gamut from Harvey Milk to Grindr. It’s hard to boil down 37 years of gay history to five pages, but they’ve had a good try anyway.
Looking through the pages highlights what a long and sometimes difficult journey it’s been. In 1974 homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the American Psychological Association. Sex between men had been legalised in England and Wales, but was still illegal in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
A lot of the inequalities were ironed out only very recently. It’s sobering to realise that when I was sixteen years old, it was illegal for me to have sex, in contrast to my heterosexual peers (the age of consent for gay sex was only equalised in January 2001). Although, to be fair, there were a hundred other reasons why sex wasn’t on the cards for me at age 16.
Protections for gay people in the workplace were only introduced in 2003. And it was only in 2007 that protection from discrimination in goods and service provision came into effect, alarming B&B owners all over the country.
Fast forward to today, and it looks almost certain that full same-sex marriage will be legal by 2015.
Life isn’t perfect – preachers are still saying we’re going to hell, holding hands in the street risks getting a kicking, gay kids are still getting thrown out of their homes. But it’s a lot better than it was in the early days of GT.
Whatever hatever the daily tribulations gay men faced in 1974, from the evidence to hand, we can safely say they were… warm.