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Opening The Closets Of The Privileged

Last week I watched one of the best TV programs I’ve seen in ages: the BBC’s A Very English Scandal, which is available on Amazon Prime. It’s based on the true story of Jeremy Thorpe (Hugh Grant), a rising English politician who is a closeted homosexual, and whose failed love affair with a lower-class man, Norman Scott (Ben Whishaw) drives a plot to murder Scott to keep him from talking. This all happened in the UK of the 1960s and 1970s, in the period just before and just after the decriminalization of homosexuality. Here’s a Vanity Fair piece explaining what happened to the real-life lovers [1]; don’t read it if you want to be surprised by how the three-part miniseries ends. Trust me, you do.

The tone is tragicomic, the writing exceptionally witty, and director Stephen Frears’ pacing at an gingerly trot. I can’t remember the last time Hugh Grant was this good in anything. His sinister character is a toff whose brittle layers of wickedness macerate in upper-class plumminess like baklava soaked in honey. and Ben Whishaw also finds extraordinary depths in his shallow, pouting character, rendering him both ridiculous and possessing unusual strengths — and even a kind of grandeur.

Though it is set a half-century ago, A Very English Scandal resonates particularly with our time, given the scandal emerging among the Roman Catholic cardinals and bishops. The drama is about a cabal of clandestine upper-class homosexual Englishmen who carry on their sex lives underneath the veneer of respectability. Jeremy Thorpe is rich, well-connected, and a member of Parliament: he can pretty much do what he wants to, as long as he is reasonably discreet. When Jeremy meets him, Norman Josiffe — he would later change his name to Scott — was working as a stable boy. They were lovers for some time before Thorpe threw Scott away, or so he thought.

Thorpe could be so reckless because he knew that the public would not believe that a respectable Establishment political leader would have gay lovers. He also knew that the Establishment — especially fellow closeted gay men within that Establishment — would do their best to protect him. A Very English Scandal is about the power of class and the closet. Though it does slip a bit into preachiness towards the end, as it paints Norman Scott a proto-hero in the fight for gay liberation, there’s no denying the fact that Jeremy Thorpe used a corrupt system for his own self-gratification, and corrupted others (like his Liberal Party colleague Peter Bessell, played by Alex Jennings, and the two wives Thorpe collected as beards) to protect his own privileged position.

For better or for worse, we have come very far from those days. I’d say mostly for the better. The light tone of A Very English Scandal dips into lower registers at times to make a point about the tragedies beneath the silly cat-and-mouse games Thorpe and Scott play with each other. A Tory MP explains in one scene that he has become a campaigner for decriminalization because he believes Britain’s laws drove his gay brother to suicide.

The end of the closet has made stories like this fairly antique, at least in the UK, though perhaps less so here. Except, of course, among the elites of the Catholic Church. Theodore McCarrick got away with being a gay archbishop, rising to the rank of cardinal, even though his predatory homosexuality was not exactly a secret among his class. He was an unusually good liar, which helped, but he also benefited from many of the privileges that accrued to his class, by virtue of his rank and institutional identity. If McCarrick had simply been a lonely Catholic prelate in love with a man, it still would have made him a hypocrite, but many people would have found that forgivable. But in his case, he used his privileges to prey sexually on others — most horribly, on a boy named James, whose parents trusted the Church and Father McCarrick without question.

If you think McCarrick was the only one, you’re daft. An as yet unexplored (by the media) aspect of the abuse scandal is the role secretive gay networks among the clergy — especially senior clergy — played in concealing and facilitating, however inadvertently, the sexual abuse of minors. Because A Very English Scandal is so amusing, it’s easy to forget that Jeremy Thorpe conspires to have Norman Scott killed to protect his reputation and preserve his power. It’s not the same as murder, but the history of the sprawling Catholic abuse scandal is full of stories about the psychological and legal torture, and even the spiritual murder, of those used and abused by sexually predatory clergy, and whose testimony threatened the power and prestige of the Church and its Jeremy Thorpes.

We may be on the verge of this system breaking down. I’m not sure how it will happen, or if it can happen without the mainstream media taking an interest in the story, and pursuing it. It may take one or more figures like Norman Scott: gay men who no longer want to play the game, and who, whether from creditable or cynical motives, choose to speak out against closeted priests and bishops who have hurt others to preserve their privileges.

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32 Comments To "Opening The Closets Of The Privileged"

#1 Comment By sponder On August 9, 2018 @ 4:30 am

I don’t know. Given the intrinsically disordered nature of homosexuality with an inclination to slide into sexual behavior that makes a person less than fully human and the moral equivalent of cheating adulterers, why would anyone in their right mind want a homosexual as a priest, celibate or not? Though I must say a purge of gays from the church is about as likely as a purge of gays from, say, hairdressing or Broadway.

#2 Comment By Werd On August 9, 2018 @ 7:15 am

That’s kind of what I’d thought the gay priest thing was all about to begin with. In the 50’s-70’s gay men just became priests in order to avoid questions and the social stigma about why they didn’t have wives or families. Maybe the church took in many of these people, knowing they were gay and giving them something socially acceptable to do with it. 50-60 years later, and after a social revolution, the Catholic church is dealing with the fallout. My ex-girlfriend sent me a Milo video on the subject a few years back, and although he just kind of put that out there without any sources or anyway to back up his claims, it made a lot of sense and sounds like something our society would’ve done with men who were intelligent or from upper class families who were gay 2 or 3 generations ago.

#3 Comment By Matt in VA On August 9, 2018 @ 8:38 am

When Jeremy meets him, Norman Josiffe — he would later change his name to Scott — was working as a stable boy.

Almost like Alec, the under-gamekeeper, in Forster’s Maurice, where Maurice is a public-school and Oxbridge student.

For better or for worse, we have come very far from those days. I’d say mostly for the better. The light tone of A Very English Scandal dips into lower registers at times to make a point about the tragedies beneath the silly cat-and-mouse games Thorpe and Scott play with each other. A Tory MP explains in one scene that he has become a campaigner for decriminalization because he believes Britain’s laws drove his gay brother to suicide.

I find the trotting-out of the “homophobia causes suicide” emotional manipulation tactic pretty spurious. The idea that coming out of the closet and living in a very gay-friendly place or city improves health outcomes sounds intuitively true to a lot of people but the actual evidence is thin. The destruction of the closet and the formation of open gay male communities in large US cities in the 1960 and 1970s led almost *immediately* (given the incubation period before serious illness) to the AIDS epidemic, in which huge numbers of gay men (lots of gay men writing at the time themselves write of HALF of their friends dying) died in one of the most horrible ways to go, with tremendous amounts of suffering. And still to this day, gay men, *in the gay-friendliest places in the world*, are at increased risk of alcoholism, drug addiction, other STDs including sexually transmitted hepatitis, and of course HIV infection (in *hugely* disproportionate numbers) which, yes, still kills people to this day (HIV infection/AIDS is still a *leading* cause of death for young black men in the USA, as the CDC documents, despite the fact that middle-class gay men in media constantly present the idea that HIV is not a big deal anymore and that it should be “destigmatized”). And with other STDs increasingly become drug-resistant, I don’t think the future looks bright, either.

The spectre of suicide due to homophobia never, but never, deals with the fact that gay men are MUCH more likely to suffer and to die from toxic gay male sexual cultures than they are to die of suicide.

It may take one or more figures like Norman Scott: gay men who no longer want to play the game, and who, whether from creditable or cynical motives, choose to speak out against closeted priests and bishops who have hurt others to preserve their privileges.

I honestly think that gay men are *less* likely than they were in the past to do this (to be a “traitor” to their group). In my experience and observation, gay men grow more conformist and more dull every year — we are far, far away from the gay men of 100-70 years ago whose marginality/bohemianism spurred and developed clever cultural moods and modes of expression that it took some wit and some perceptiveness to detect. The Cole Porters of the world don’t have to be coy and winning anymore, and that seems to have resulted in no more Cole Porters. There is barely even any kitsch and camp anymore. This is something Camille Paglia (PBUH) writes about a lot.

Gay male “culture” such as it is seems to have become mostly indistinguishable from upper-middle-class liberal white woman “antidiscrimination” culture except for the addition of constant normalization of unprotected casual a**l sex and the accusations of anybody who even mildly opposes it of “internalized homophobia” or “serophobia.”

#4 Comment By MarkII On August 9, 2018 @ 9:20 am

I watched “A Very English Scandal” a few weeks back and really enjoyed it. I was never much of a Hugh Grant fan, finding him more irritating than charming, but he’s very, very good in this. For another excellent film on a similar subject (British politics, sex, blackmail and cover-ups) see “Scandal” (1989) starring John Hurt.

#5 Comment By Houstonian On August 9, 2018 @ 9:35 am

…wish this review could appear on Rotten Tomatoes…

#6 Comment By Liam On August 9, 2018 @ 9:42 am

Closets should be understood to be near occasions of sin. They are quite distinct from virtuous discretion, but it’s incredibly easy and slippery for those things to become confused. Closets maim. Christians commending closets (I am not talking abotu this post, but this is a position embraced by some of Rod’s comboxers over the years) are consequentialists without realizing it.

That is all.

#7 Comment By Ben H On August 9, 2018 @ 9:56 am

Blackmail is something that can only exist because of your own pride. Because of the fear that people have of becoming thought of as something different and worse.

It is a fear of men and the things men can do, not a rightly oriented fear of God, because God knows all that stuff.

Related to the fear of exposure is the fear of loss, not only loss of the esteem of others but the loss of some position, power or privilege. People will do more horrible things because of a fear of loss than a desire for gain.

More than any stupid administrative measure what bishops need to do is to accept in humility the scorn that will come to them publicly by having a public conversion of heart and a public willingness to amend their lives.

The church is for sinners, not for the already saints so it is time to stop pretending that everyone is perfect, starting from the top (except maybe an occasional second scoop of ice cream), and get into real amendment of life.

#8 Comment By J On August 9, 2018 @ 10:47 am

To be un-pc note that whether legalized or not homosexuality seems to be the common denominator. I disagree that this is not an issue of homosexuality. It is a disorder, whether they like or agree with that or not. That has consequences. For good reason the Church has traditionally tried to keep homosexuals out of the clergy. Wisdom, let us attend.

We should also note that it is now Christians who are in the closet. Imagine working in a corporation and “gay pride” week comes up. It is the Christians who need to hide. Our current Overlords seem to rather enjoy that. Remember when we were told “don’t worry it won’t affect you?” They were lying. It always affects us.

Moral of the story. Homosexuality IS the problem. Anyone man with deep-seated homosexual inclinations should not be ordained, period. Sure there are some orthodox celibate men who struggle with same sex desires who have been good priests, but right now I don’t think we can afford to allow for many exceptions to the rule.

#9 Comment By William Murphy On August 9, 2018 @ 11:08 am

The 1970s Thorpe affair was an enthralling business from numerous angles.

The satirists and comedians obviously had the most fun. The satirical magazine “Private Eye” ran one of its classic cover photos after Thorpe’s acquittal proclaiming: “Buggers can’t be losers!” (Yes, it was before Political Correctness was invented).

By a most extraordinary exception, one of the jurors disclosed part of the deliberations in the jury room – this was and is strictly forbidden. He explained that the jury acquitted Thorpe because they thought that the charge of conspiracy to murder was too serious to be supported by the evidence presented. If it had been something like “conspiracy to frighten” they would probably have convicted.

Most fascinating of all was the speculation that Thorpe might have got away with murder twice – once in the 1950s and once in the 1970s. Michael Bloch’s fat hardback autobiography appeared in the bookshops barely a week after Thorpe’s demise, so Thorpe couldn’t sue for libel. This autobiography had obviously been 99.9% written for years and merely needed Thorpe’s date of death to be inserted on the last page.

[2]

#10 Comment By Theo On August 9, 2018 @ 11:11 am

I saw the show too and it is marvelous, one of the best I’ve seen in a long time (though only for the mature, there are a few explicit scenes). And agree that the only real mar is the unsubtle gay advocacy near the end, they should have stuck to top-notch storytelling, and let the audience form their own conclusions.

I also saw direct corollaries in our own time, not only in the Catholic Church, but in Hollywood, in Washington DC, in child pornography and sex trafficking, in the recently exposed NXIVM sex cult which serves the very wealthy.

And, the controversial recent Met gala where stars dressed in blasphemous, Catholic-themed costumes (one Victoria’s Secret model even had an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary on her rear end). Cardinal Dolan attended and later spoke well of the event. Talk about scandal to the faithful.

We live in dark times, and what is happening inside the Catholic Church is a part of that darkness. Time to root the evil out. I just hope there are enough faithful Catholics left with guts to do it.

#11 Comment By William Murphy On August 9, 2018 @ 11:59 am

Further to all the cliches about expensive British private boarding schools, as inhabited by the likes of Thorpe, and the desperate cover-ups by clergy: here is one Benedict Option that you definitely don’t want! Will two Benedictine schools survive this paedo disaster? They are definitely not the only ones – just about every Benedictine school in Britain has been named in homosexual debacles.

The bigger and more famous Ampleforth in Yorkshire was the long time base for the late Basil Hume, where he started his religious life as a humble Benedictine monk. Then he ascended to be Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, where he was christened Godfather to the Gays for his indulgent treatment of Gay Masses.

[3]

#12 Comment By charles cosimano On August 9, 2018 @ 12:17 pm

“One only hides that which is shameful.” Gays are no longer considered shameful by the bulk of the populace, now merely entertaining or annoying, so they have no reason to hide, the ravings in comboxes not withstanding.

As people realize that clergy are no more special than anyone else, gay clergy will simply cease to be a scandal, the vows unrealistic and if not simply dispensed with, treated the way they were in the Renaissance, something to be winked at and ignored.

The issue for the broader society is the propensity to go after little boys. You folks wondered why the McCarrick thing got no great play? The answer is simple. Until it came out he was grooming children it was just an old gay Bishop canoodling with the seminarians. It was, to be blunt, no big deal. The seminarians were adult and assumed by the very nature of things to be gay already, so there was no reason for the media to care very much.

A more interesting, or rather contrast to the story of Jeremy Thorpe would be that of Congressman Barney Frank. Openly gay, that did not hurt him a bit. Ran a virtual gay brothel out of his house, did not hurt him a bit.

A prediction. A ranking clergyman will be found with an adult gay lover and will respond with, “Oh, the Church takes a while to catch up to things,” and continues what he is doing. Nothing will happen to him.

#13 Comment By savvy On August 9, 2018 @ 12:44 pm

These are privileged gays who also misuse the vow of obedience.

The main issue is not sex, but power.

Gays have more power in the media’s favorite anti-gay Church. Astonishing.

#14 Comment By JamesG On August 9, 2018 @ 1:17 pm

The movie was excellent.

Hugh Grant nailed Thorpe mainly by wearing a perpetual frown.

Seeing the old Thorpe photos, he was one-hundred percent right to do that.

BTW, what a strange country was (is?) Britain.

#15 Comment By Brian in Brooklyn On August 9, 2018 @ 1:31 pm

Matt in VA writes: “…gay men grow more conformist and more dull every year…”

I guessed I missed the time when the majority of gay men were not conformist and dull. My ex used to say that “gay” was most often spelled “gwm.” There were always outliers in the community, but the majority of gay men have always understood gay liberation as the ability to enjoy the rights and privileges of being male and white without any demerits being applied for being gay.

More Matt: “…we are far, far away from the gay men of 100-70 years ago whose marginality/bohemianism spurred and developed clever cultural moods and modes of expression that it took some wit and some perceptiveness to detect.”

Not that far. There is amazing work being done—in theatre especially—by gay men (and other queers) that is full of wit and cleverness.

Matt: “The Cole Porters of the world don’t have to be coy and winning anymore, and that seems to have resulted in no more Cole Porters.”

Which is natural; the circumstances of society and culture have changed and are producing different artists. There is no need for peekaboo art. Cleverness and wit in art can stand naked and unashamed now. Porter (and I would add Lorenz Hart as well) wrote wonderful lyrics which I suspect/hope will be admired for decades to come, but they are a product of their time.

Matt: “There is barely even any kitsch and camp anymore.”

I think it is more the case that the urge/need to treat something from a camp or kitsch perspective is not as strong today. As Christopher Isherwood noted—camp is an attitude you take toward something, not something that you try to produce from scratch. Today you have the work of Colman Domingo, Tarrell Alvin McCraney, Matthew Lopez and others that deals with queerness head on and does not require the oblique approach of camp.

#16 Comment By savvy On August 9, 2018 @ 1:47 pm

Second Bishop backs Lay Investigation Of McCarick.

[4]

#17 Comment By Liam On August 9, 2018 @ 2:16 pm

And former Irish President McAleese recounts an encounter in 2003 with JP2’s Sec’y of State Sodano:

[5]

#18 Comment By Anne On August 9, 2018 @ 2:26 pm

British private boarding schools for boys turned out a large number of practicing homosexuals, as did Catholic junior seminaries and Catholic boarding schools for boys. (The MacCarrick generation and older Boomers after them are pretty much the last US Catholic priests living who were raised in this milieu.) The reason should go without saying: puberty spent in the sole company of the same sex 24/7. Boy crushes and youthful experimentation in itself seem to mark a male for life. Females, more rarely. Why?

#19 Comment By JonF On August 9, 2018 @ 2:36 pm

Re: he destruction of the closet and the formation of open gay male communities in large US cities in the 1960 and 1970s led almost *immediately* (given the incubation period before serious illness) to the AIDS epidemic

This is simply not true. First off, widespread social tolerance for homosexuality didn’t really get going until the 90s (maybe the late 80s at the earliest in more liberal places), and it was, partly, a product of the AIDS epidemic. Secondly viruses are blind and deaf to any such concerns. HIV had its own timetable and it had nothing whatsoever to do with us in any way. In other worlds it might have emerged in the 1830s or not until 2050 or maybe never at all. And it’s not like there wasn’t plenty of illicit sex, including the gay variety, going on before the media started noticing it.

#20 Comment By EngineerScotty On August 9, 2018 @ 2:39 pm

Cosimano, as usual, nails it.

The interesting question–is this sort of behavior (whether from clergy, boarding school headmasters, or Broadway producers) any different than when it is done to girls and women?

A lot of objections voiced in the comments (this is more for the commenters than Rod) seem to regard homosexual pederasty, exploitation, and harassment as abominable, but the heterosexual version as simply the droit du signeur of the rich and powerful. (Or at least for the correct rich and powerful–different standards seem to be applied, at least in some circles, to the accusations against various Hollywood perverts vs the accusations against tradcon clergy and the like. Or at least a different presumption of innocence).

But some of the comments above basically recite the circular argument of the closet:

“They stay hidden because they are ashamed.”

Why are the ashamed? “Because they do what is shameful”.

Why is it shameful? “Because those that do it stay hidden, and are susceptible to blackmail if they are discovered”.

#21 Comment By Fiestamom On August 9, 2018 @ 3:36 pm

Hugh Grant is so believable in the role because of his superior acting and because he hasn’t had any plastic surgery. Hugh, if you are reading this, you look wonderful, stay away from the knife!

Superficial comment, I know. But so many movies are unwatchable to me because of the plastic surgery that makes the actors look inhuman.

#22 Comment By Brian in Brooklyn On August 9, 2018 @ 5:21 pm

JonF writes: “First off, widespread social tolerance for homosexuality didn’t really get going until the 90s (maybe the late 80s at the earliest in more liberal places), and it was, partly, a product of the AIDS epidemic.”

+1,000

I remember marching in the Pride March in 1984. The Pride Rally was held at the end of the March. (Only later did it move to the Saturday immediately before, and even later to the weekend before the March–by that point we had a whole Pride week inclusive of two weekends. Woo Hoo!).

At the base of Christopher Street, I spread my arms and turned a circle and did not touch anybody–not one single person!–and volunteers were walking around with large black garbage bags asking for donations of $2 to help pay for the March permit.

Again, this was 1984–the year HIV was discovered as the cause of AIDS. The date that HIV was first transmitted to humans–prior to 1931.

1986–Headline from the New York Times: “N.Y. Passes Gay Rights Bill After 15-Year Debate”

1990–Queer Nation (a version of which started as a committee of ACT UP) spins off since LGBTQ activism was seen as needing a separate group.

The closet was far from destroyed in the 1960’s and 1970’s–it lost a number of its denizens during those decades, but it is still in operation today.

#23 Comment By Rombald On August 9, 2018 @ 7:27 pm

Up to probably some time in the 80s, in Britain, homosexuality was thought of as a peculiarly upper- and upper-middle-class affliction – something to do with effeminate accents, and boarding schools – and when the Thorpe scandal emerged, when I was in my early teens, people I knew just dismissed it as “things posh people do”. I was surprised that the first gay who I got to know at all well, in my late teens, was from a solidly working-class background.

The Liberals were the most pro-gay of the three main parties (the Conservatives were still churchy, and Labour still into working-class machismo), and quite a number of Liberal politicians did actually voice support for Thorpe, except for the attempted murder. His homosexuality wasn’t universally seen as scandalous, even then.

I think he was more accurately bisexual. I don’t think his wives were really beards.

An interesting footnote is that the hired gun who carried out the bungled attempted murder / scaring is actually still alive, living under an alias in France, after release from prison. He had been assumed to be dead.

I’ve heard a number of people say that the only character for whom they have any sympathy is Scott’s dog, which was killed.

#24 Comment By Glaivester On August 9, 2018 @ 9:14 pm

This isn’t the first time Hugh Grant tried to kill Ben Ben Whishaw:

[6]

I’m not certain that his character in that movie was gay, but I think he was a bear-chaser.

#25 Comment By Robert On August 10, 2018 @ 1:34 am

HIV had its own timetable and it had nothing whatsoever to do with us in any way.

HIV is a virus. Viruses are opportunistic. HIV spread because many people were having unprotected sex in bathhouses, backrooms and everywhere else – which gave the virus lots of opportunity to spread. It had (and still has) lots to do with us – we created the conditions for the epidemic. Are you asserting that the promiscuity and unprotected sex that went on in the 70s/80s had nothing to do with the spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic?

#26 Comment By JonF On August 10, 2018 @ 6:46 am

Re: Barney Frank. Openly gay, that did not hurt him a bit. Ran a virtual gay brothel out of his house, did not hurt him a bit.

Frank took up with a hot-to-trot young male escort on the make and moved him into his home to take him away from “all that”. The escort enjoyed the cushy digs but had no desire to quit escorting. There’s no evidence Frank had any involvement in the guy’s business. This is more along the lines of “No fool like an old fool”.

#27 Comment By JonF On August 10, 2018 @ 10:46 am

Re: HIV spread because many people were having unprotected sex in bathhouses, backrooms and everywhere else

True, but male (and especially gay male, let it be said) promiscuity has been around since, basically, forever. If HIV had gone through the genetic mutations that made it especially virulent* at an earlier time the epidemic would have begun then.
File under “No, sex was not invented in the 60s”

* The virus has been around since at least the 1930s, maybe since the 1890s, having mutated into a human-infecting form, apparently, from a related virus that causes similar pathology in other primates. Something happened to make it easier for the virus to transmit in seminal fluid rather than by just direct blood-to-blood contact. The heterosexual epidemic in Africa kicked off about the same time. This sort of thing is an old story in epidemology: a trivial-seeming mutation kicks off a lethal pandemic. You’ll find the same history with influenza, smallpox, plague, etc.

#28 Comment By Olivier On August 10, 2018 @ 12:04 pm

@Matt in VA Very true. Gays nowadays are just another advertising demographic and they are lapping it up. But, take heart, there are more than a few who miss the days of the closet and those may yet return!

#29 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 10, 2018 @ 1:12 pm

There is something to be said for “both sides” of the comments about how HIV spread, because indeed viruses do not “take sides.” HIV did originate in Africa where transmission has been primarily heterosexual. In the course of various vectors that moved it around, it entered into a highly promiscuous gay vector that spread it rapidly, made it for a decade or two a conspicuously gay illness, and, inevitably, spread via shared needles and bisexuality to the heterosexual population, where it spread promiscuously as well, having no objective preference.

#30 Comment By JonF On August 11, 2018 @ 11:48 am

Re: In the course of various vectors that moved it around, it entered into a highly promiscuous gay vector that spread it rapidly

Hi Siarlys. This is very true, and I am not taking issue with it. I am taking issue with the strange claim that gays were not having the kind of sex that spreads HIV prior to the 70s, a claim I have seen advanced hereabouts by various people over the years.

#31 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 11, 2018 @ 3:38 pm

I am taking issue with the strange claim that gays were not having the kind of sex that spreads HIV prior to the 70s

I hadn’t heard that claim before, and I hadn’t recognized it in the previous exchanges. I agree, that is a ludicrous claim.

#32 Comment By JonF On August 12, 2018 @ 12:51 pm

Siarlys, I think what is implied when people blame the supposed latitude of the 60s and 70s is that gays were persecuted and prosecuted severely before that so they rarely if ever had sex. This exaggerates the permissiveness of 60s/70s in regards to homosexuality and supposes a draconian application of sodomy laws in prior eras when in fact, apart from public sex, such prosecutions were rare, and there was plenty of room in the proverbial closet for a canoodling crowd on the down low.