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‘A Gay Story, a History’: Gay Male Liberation and Queer Rumination

Johnson, AD (2016) ‘A Gay Story, a History’: Gay Male Liberation and Queer Rumination In: Accelerated Times: British Literature in Transition, 1980-2000. Cambridge University Press.

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In 1979 the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary upheld the guilty verdict in a blasphemy trial concerning James Kirkup’s ‘The Love that Dares to Speak its Name’ (1976), an intensely homoerotic poem about Christ’s crucifixion published in the Gay Liberation Front broadsheet Gay News. The Law Lords sustained both the fine and suspended prison sentence for Gay News publisher Denis Lemon, and the European Commission of Human Rights declined to hear a further appeal. Still remembered as the final prosecution for blasphemy in England, Whitehouse v Lemon was the last of several high-profile censorship and obscenity cases in Britain involving homoerotic literature – including Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness (1928) and James Hanley’s Boy (1931) – a worrying register that led E. M. Forster to sense that his novel Maurice (1971) could not be published during his lifetime. Despite the eventual decriminalization of homosexuality in 1967, gay writers continued to face both legal and public scrutiny for a number of years, a concern exacerbated by the introduction of Section 28 of the Local Government Act in 1988, which criminalized the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality. However, the two decades between Whitehouse v Lemon and the initial move to repeal Section 28 in 2000 also brought for gay male writers not only widening mainstream recognition but moreover new legal, social and political freedoms to draw attention to and help evaluate the complexities of a fundamentally altered gay British experience.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects : Literature
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Literature and Languages
Authors :
Johnson, AD
Editors :
Schoene, B
Date : 2016
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 20 Sep 2016 12:44
Last Modified : 31 Oct 2017 18:44

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