Robert Hampton

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November 2011

5th November 2011

Posted by at 5.09pm | Gay | 1 response

Photo of Cover of Gay Times Issue 400 with Matthew MitchamGay 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.

Photo of Hairy Man on Cover of Him Exclusive Magazine Issue 1

13th November 2011

Dream a little Dream
Posted by at 10.25pm | Stage | 3 responses

Friday night I went with Andrew to see Beautiful Thing at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. Nearly two decades after it was written, it’s still surely the finest thing Jonathan Harvey has ever done. His trademark pop culture references perhaps do date the script a bit, but I wouldn’t have wanted them to update it; this is a play that is very much of it’s time (and a namecheck for Bob’s Full House is always going to please me, personally).

I certainly can’t fault this production: it’s well-staged with universally excellent performances, especially from the actors playing Jamie and Ste.

The film adaptation was the first gay-themed film I ever saw, as a 20-year-old proto-gay. I remember racing upstairs with the Amazon package and holding the DVD in my hands, regarding it with the same sense of wonder that Jamie and Ste have for the smuggled copy of Gay Times. I watched the DVD with the remote control permanently in one hand, ready to switch to something more innocuous if my mum barged in unexpectedly, as she had a habit of doing.

The final scene of the play, as with the film, doesn’t fails to bring a tear to the eye.

Anyway, the play is on at the Royal Exchange until 3rd December. I highly recommend you go and see it, but be quick – tickets are reportedly selling out fast!