Panel discussion – Experiences of gay men born in the 1950s

Last LGBT+ History Month (Feb 2021) we recorded this panel discussion chaired by Forum Trustee Chris. Three members of our 50+ Group, Alan, Peter and Mark, all cis-gendered gay men, participated. Although they lived through the same decades, their experiences were very different. All three were born in the 1950s, when sex between men was illegal throughout the United Kingdom. They lived through the time of the Wolfenden Committee (report published 1957), the partial decriminalisation of such acts (1967 in England and Wales, and 1980 in Scotland), the evolution of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality from the North-Western Homosexual Law Reform Committee (1969), the foundation of the Gay Liberation Front in the UK (1970), the foundation of the (then) Gay Switchboard (1974), the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, Section 28 (1988, repealed 2003) which led to the foundation of Stonewall (1989), the reduction of the age of consent for gay male sex from 21 to 18 (1994) and then to 16 – the same age as for heterosexual sex (2001), the lifting of the ban on lesbians and gay men serving in the armed forces (2000), decriminalisation of sex acts between men (2003), and the introduction of civil partnerships (2004) and same-sex marriage (2013).  

Erratum: The discussion refers to prosecutions arising from the publication of (mostly innocuous) gay lonely-hearts advertisements as late as 1973. The publication was the underground magazine International Times, not Time Out, as stated. The basis of the conviction was ‘conspiracy to corrupt public morals’. Even six years after partial decriminalisation, the success of this prosecution indicates that the law continued to pass moral judgements on gay men and persecute them.  

Listen Here: Experiences of gay men born in the 1950s – part 1

Listen Here: Experiences of gay men born in the 1950s – part 2


Oral histories 


The Kingston LGBTQ+ Forum is considering setting up an oral histories project to capture and record the heritage of its members. Recently, several members have shared their stories in excellent blogs on our website. Oral histories, which are interactive, add another dimension to personal accounts as the above panel discussion shows. SpeakOut London, hosted by the London Metropolitan Archives, is a first-rate example of an LGBTQ+ oral histories project.  

We would love to hear from those who would be interested in taking part in an oral histories project – whether as an interviewer, interviewee, or as a member of a panel discussion. You might be interested in taking part in an interview with a person with similar or with very different experiences. There will also be opportunities to be involved in transcribing contributions or in technical work with audio recordings.  

If you are interested in taking part, please complete the following online form (click here).  


Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames Heritage Service ‘100 Histories’ project 


Here is a message from Kingston Heritage Service:

‘LGBT+ History Month is about sharing and learning. That is why we are asking you, our residents, to feed into our understanding of our local LGBTQ+ heritage by sharing your memories, stories or reflections.

‘We know that these histories are often hidden, but that in Kingston we have a rich LGBTQ+ heritage that should be remembered and celebrated. If you have any reflections you would like to share, please do contribute to our interactive map celebrating the heritage of the borough. Let’s use this month to make sure LGBTQ+ histories are included.’

The Forum is also very keen that LGBTQ+ histories are represented. Please click here for further information and to contribute:

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