Monthly Archives: January 2016

Gay History: How To Spot A Possible Homo!

I hope this helps…


1962 Newspaper Article

A change of shape

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst reviews Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century by Graham Robb

12:01AM GMT 03 Nov 2003

How do you pick out a gay man in a crowd? According to Dr La Forest Potter’s Strange Loves, published in 1933, “the average homosexual” differs from “ordinary men” in 10 easily identifiable ways: he has “large, easily aroused nipples”, “a mincing walk”, “sloped and rounded shoulders”, “thick, luxuriant hair”, “a hairless chest”, “soft, delicate skin” free of manly spots, a lack of “dogmatic energy”, a “peculiar swinging motion of the hips” due to anatomical defects in the spine and pelvis, “a considerable deposit of fat in the region of hips, breasts and thighs”, and – the clinching clue – “feminine buttocks”.

Clearly the author of Strange Loves was a little peculiar himself (how could he know that homosexual nipples were “easily aroused”?), but he is hardly an isolated figure in the troubled history of 20th-century attitudes towards homosexuality. From Raphael Kirchner’s 1908 German handbook, How to Recognise Homosexuals, to the two-page guide on “How to Spot a Possible Homo” published in the Sunday Mirror in 1963 (“shifty glances”, “dropped eyes”, “a fondness for the theatre”), it has long been popular wisdom that “one of them” is easily distinguishable from “one of us”. Whether seen as a choice or a compulsion, in everything from lifestyle to hairstyle, the assumption has been that homosexuality is a secret that simply cannot be kept. It is as if the world had been told that the root of “homosexual”, “homos”, is Greek for “same”, meaning that there are men who fall in love with other men, and had misunderstood it to mean that homosexuals are all the same.

Recently, much of the blame for this sorry state of affairs has been laid at the door of the Victorians. According to the most popular line of argument, although there had always been same-sex activity between men, only during the 19th century did the exclusively homosexual person emerge as a distinct social type. Both as a word and a concept, “homosexuality” was a Victorian invention. From the doctors who attempted to diagnose homosexuality (Ambroise Tardieu claimed in 1857 that the telltale signs in men included a corkscrew-shaped penis and a large bottom: “I have seen one pederast whose buttocks were joined and formed a single, perfect sphere”) to the politicians who attempted to legislate against it, the 19th century gave birth not only to “the homosexual” but to the repressive social forces that continued to echo through the 20th century.

This, at least, is the version of events, much influenced by Michel Foucault’s writings on sexuality, which is dutifully wheeled out by most histories of gay life. But then, Foucault was never one to let the facts get in the way of a good theory and, as Graham Robb’s revisionist account proves, the truth was rather more complicated and a lot more interesting.

Almost every page of this book reverberates with the sound of stereotypes being flattened. For example, the assumption that the Victorians were repressive in their attitudes towards illicit sexual behaviour hardly squares with what was accepted and even celebrated. Consider the case of “Fanny” Park, a drag queen arrested for using the ladies’ room at the Strand Theatre, whose acquittal on sodomy charges in 1870 – secured by his solicitor, the wonderfully named Mr Straight – was loudly cheered; or the tight-trousered rent boys (“mollies”) who were an established tourist attraction in both London and New York; or the odd couples, such as the “married” artists Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, whose unconventional households attracted some notoriety and a great deal of indifference.

Indeed, for a love that supposedly dared not speak its name, homosexuality was a surprisingly noisy part of Victorian life, less a subculture than a parallel culture that ran alongside and occasionally ran into the heterosexual mainstream. Even Jane Austen, who was hardly in the vanguard of permissiveness, allowed herself a sly joke about gay sex, when Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park discusses her knowledge of admirals: “Of Rears, and Vices, I saw enough. Now, do not be suspecting me of a pun, I entreat.”

Not that the 19th century was an oasis of tolerance and good sense. Most gay men and women remained strangers to the society that had the power to ostracise them or lock them up. Many also remained strangers to one another. It could be hard to recognise a like-minded soul, and Robb has some moving examples of the tactics needed to sound someone out about their sexuality, simultaneously leading on and backing off, without risking rejection or assault.

Even if this hurdle was overcome, there was no guarantee that two gay people, like any other two people, would have anything to talk about. Oscar Wilde cannot have been alone in finding it hard to reconcile his ideals of a pure Grecian love with the pimply youths he took to bed, like the two Cockney lads Frank Harris recalled seeing him with at the Café Royal, talking about the Olympic Games. “‘Did you sy they was niked?’ ‘Of course,’ Oscar replied, ‘nude, clothed only in sunshine and beauty.'”

Perhaps inevitably, such public displays in the period are rare; the history of Victorian gay life is less one of explicit confessions than it is of flirtatious hints and glimpses. Fleshing out these details into a rich and satisfying narrative, Robb is an ideal guide to the period – unfailingly intelligent, compassionate and discreetly witty.

His earlier biographies of Hugo and Rimbaud showed that he has a sharp eye for the way that real lives tend to resist the neat shapes we impose on them, and Strangers is crammed with statistics and anecdotes that succeed brilliantly in changing what we thought we knew about homosexuality, both then and now. In seeking to explain some of the messy and unpredictable workings of love, Robb has produced a rare thing: not just a book with ideas, but a book with heart.

And this wonderful send-up;

How to spot a homosexual: A step by step guide – 11-07-2010, 04:56 PM

Homosexuals are amongst us. Every day, they discreetly pollute the Good Lord’s Earth with their filthy ways. Luckily, me and Dimitri, at the Domnino League Against Sodomites, have compiled a list of data that will assist you in telling whether your closest friends are secretly queers.

Eating and Drinking:
Whether at the bathhouse, drinking beverages (in appropriate amounts, as prescribed in Timothy 5:23) in the company of fellow Christians, or simply eating lunch on the truck roads of northern Siberia, eating and drinking habits of those within your group of friends will reveal whether or not they are Closetfags™.
Foods consumed by men:

Anything with more than half a pound of meat.
Anything fried or deep fried.

Anything pie-like of the appropriate size.

Anything hunted/skinned yourself and cooked by your wife and/or daughter(s).

Foods consumed by homosexuals:
Anything that comes in small, faggy portions (Sushi, “Cocktail Snacks”)
Anything with a foreign name (Especially if in French)

Anything that is shared with other men (Tapas)

Drinks consumed by men:
Wine (Only if you are depressed. Wine must have a pronouncable name to avoid being mixed with “Faggy wine” [See below] ) Proverbs 31:6-7
Spirits (See Wine)

Beer (See Wine)


Anything produced by the Coca-Cola Company, except drinks which reference fruit. These are considered “fruity”, e.g. homosexual beverages.

e.g. Coca-Cola Cherry.

Drinks consumed by homosexuals:

Cocktails (Notice the name!) – Not a proper drink. Any drink that is a mixture of two or more normally separate drinks is considered a cocktail.
Faggy Wine – Wine made outside of own country, probably in France. The name is distinctly not-English sounding and the label will most likely have pictures of men holding hands.

Homosexuals can often be caught out by listening to their conversation.
Conversation Word Limit
Men talk to exchange information. If any man exceeds the standard limit of 20 words per minute (Unless he is recounting a glorious story of conquest, preaching or praying), he is surely a homosexual.
If you fear you are nearly exceeding this limit in daily conversation, try the following tricks:
* Cut down on words like “Sure.”, “Okay.”, “Nah.” and replace them with indistinct grunts, or glares in the general direction of the person with whom the conversation is occuring.
* Ignore questions, then reproach them for asking you the same thing twice.

Topics of conversation suitable for men;

Comparing engine/tyre/gas tank sizes
Car/truck/van mechanical problems

Comparing your current events (Awful times) to similar events occuring 1/5/10/20 years ago (Good, Holy Christian times)

Your wife/daughter’s inability to cook/clean/etc.

Most recent [manly sport of your choice] game.

Women (In appropriate Christian fashion)

The Bible.

Topics of conversation considered homosexual:
The Weather (In a positive manner):
e.g. “The stars are so beautiful today.”

‘Famous people’ you haven’t heard of.


Anything that uses the word “Gorgeous” or synonyms.

Indepth descriptions of sexual activities with other men.

Anything that is prefaced with “You’ll never guess what I saw in Vogue today!”

Other Signs
* In public toilets, a man uses a urinal next to your own.
* He often walks like a cowboy, but you have never seen him ride a horse.

* When you take a shower, he looks through your bathroom window.

Please add to our list if you find anything that is miss. Dimitri & I work very hard and will update once we discover more about this plague. If you suspect you have homosexuals in your neighbourhood, please seek professional aid and do not go outside alone.
Praise Christ.
Tim Alderman 2015

Gay History: The Cleveland Street Scandal

The Cleveland Street scandal occurred in 1889, when a homosexual male brothel in Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia, London, was discovered by police. At the time, sexual acts between men were illegal in Britain, and the brothel’s clients faced possible prosecution and certain social ostracism if discovered. It was rumoured that one client was Prince Albert Victor, who was the eldest son of the Prince of Wales and second-in-line to the British throne, though this rumour has never been substantiated. The government was accused of covering up the scandal to protect the names of any aristocratic patrons.
Another client was said to be Lord Arthur Somerset, an equerry to the Prince of Wales. Both he and the brothel keeper, Charles Hammond, managed to flee abroad before a prosecution could be brought. The male prostitutes, who also worked as telegraph messenger boys for the Post Office, were given light sentences and no clients were prosecuted. After Henry James FitzRoy, Earl of Euston, was named in the press as a client, he successfully sued for libel. The British press never named Prince Albert Victor, and there is no evidence he ever visited the brothel, but his inclusion in the rumours has coloured biographers’ perceptions of him since.
The scandal fuelled the attitude that male homosexuality was an aristocratic vice that corrupted lower-class youths. Such perceptions were still prevalent in 1895 when the Marquess of Queensberry accused Oscar Wilde of being an active homosexual.

Male brothel


Illustration of Inspector Frederick Abberline from a contemporary newspaper
In July 1889, Police Constable Luke Hanks was investigating a theft from the London Central Telegraph Office. During the investigation, a fifteen-year-old telegraph boy named Charles Thomas Swinscow was discovered to be in possession of fourteen shillings, equivalent to several weeks of his wages. At the time, messenger boys were not permitted to carry any personal cash in the course of their duties, to prevent their own money being mixed with that of the customers. Suspecting the boy’s involvement in the theft, Constable Hanks brought him in for questioning. After hesitating, Swinscow admitted that he earned the money working as a prostitute for a man named Charles Hammond, who operated a male brothel at 19 Cleveland Street. According to Swinscow, he was introduced to Hammond by a General Post Office clerk, eighteen-year-old Henry Newlove. In addition, he named two seventeen-year-old telegraph boys who also worked for Hammond: George Alma Wright and Charles Ernest Thickbroom. Constable Hanks obtained corroborating statements from Wright and Thickbroom and, armed with these, a confession from Newlove.[1]

Constable Hanks reported the matter to his superiors and the case was given to Detective Inspector Frederick Abberline. Inspector Abberline went to the brothel on 6 July with a warrant to arrest Hammond and Newlove for violation of Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. The Act made all homosexual acts between men, as well as procurement or attempted procurement of such acts, punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment with or without hard labour. He found the house locked and Hammond gone, but Abberline was able to apprehend Newlove at his mother’s house in Camden Town.[2] In the time between his statement to Hanks and his arrest, Newlove had gone to Cleveland Street and warned Hammond, who had consequently escaped to his brother’s house in Gravesend.[3]

Notable clienrs


Caricature of Lord Arthur Somerset, 1887
On the way to the police station, Newlove named Lord Arthur Somerset and Henry FitzRoy, Earl of Euston, as well as an army colonel by the name of Jervois, as visitors to Cleveland Street.[4] Somerset was the head of the Prince of Wales’s stables. Although Somerset was interviewed by police, no immediate action was taken against him, and the authorities were slow to act on the allegations of Somerset’s involvement.[5] A watch was placed on the now-empty house and details of the case shuffled between government departments.[6]
On 19 August, an arrest warrant was issued in the name of George Veck, an acquaintance of Hammond’s who pretended to be a clergyman. Veck had actually worked at the Telegraph Office, but had been sacked for “improper conduct” with the messenger boys.[7] A seventeen-year-old youth found in Veck’s London lodgings revealed to the police that Veck had gone to Portsmouth and was returning shortly by train. The police arrested Veck at London Waterloo railway station. In his pockets they discovered letters from Algernon Allies. Abberline sent Constable Hanks to interview Allies at his parents’ home in Sudbury, Suffolk. Allies admitted to receiving money from Somerset, having a sexual relationship with him, and working at Cleveland Street for Hammond.[8] On 22 August, police interviewed Somerset for a second time, after which Somerset left for Bad Homburg,[9] where the Prince of Wales was taking his summer holiday.[10]
On 11 September, Newlove and Veck were committed for trial. Their defence was handled by Somerset’s solicitor, Arthur Newton, with Willie Mathews appearing for Newlove, and Charles Gill for Veck. Somerset paid the legal fees.[11] By this time, Somerset had moved on to Hanover, to inspect some horses for the Prince of Wales, and the press was referring to “noble lords” implicated in the trial.[12] Newlove and Veck pleaded guilty to indecency on 18 September and the judge, Sir Thomas Chambers, a former Liberal Member of Parliament who had a reputation for leniency, sentenced them to four and nine months’ hard labour respectively.[13] The boys were also given sentences that were considered at the time to be very lenient.[14] Hammond escaped to France, but the French authorities expelled him after pressure from the British. Hammond moved on to Belgium from where he emigrated to the United States. Newton, acting for Somerset, paid for Hammond’s passage.[15] On the advice of the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, no extradition proceedings were attempted, and the case against Hammond was quietly dropped.[16]
Somerset returned to Britain in late September to attend horse sales at Newmarket but suddenly left for Dieppe on 26 September, probably after being told by Newton that he was in danger of being arrested.[17] He returned again on 30 September. A few days later, his grandmother, Emily Somerset, Dowager Duchess of Beaufort, died and he attended her funeral.[18] The Hon. Hamilton Cuffe, Assistant Treasury Solicitor, and James Monro, Commissioner of Police, pressed for action to be taken against Somerset, but the Lord Chancellor, Lord Halsbury, blocked any prosecution.[19] Rumours of Somerset’s involvement were circulating, and on 19 October Somerset fled back to France. Lord Salisbury was later accused of warning Somerset through Sir Dighton Probyn, who had met Lord Salisbury the evening before, that a warrant for his arrest was imminent.[20] This was denied by Lord Salisbury[21] and the Attorney General, Sir Richard Webster.[22] The Prince of Wales wrote to Lord Salisbury, expressing satisfaction that Somerset had been allowed to leave the country and asking that if Somerset should “ever dare to show his face in England again”, he would remain unmolested by the authorities,[23] but Lord Salisbury was also being pressured by the police to prosecute Somerset. On 12 November, a warrant for Somerset’s arrest was finally issued.[24] By this time, Somerset was already safely abroad, and the warrant caught little public attention.[25] After an unsuccessful search for employment in Turkey and Austria-Hungary, Somerset lived the rest of his life in self-imposed and comfortable exile in the south of France.[26]

Public revelations


Newspaper clipping
American newspapers claimed that Prince Albert Victor was “mixed up” in the scandal.

Because the press barely covered the story, the affair would have faded quickly from public memory if not for journalist Ernest Parke. The editor of the obscure politically radical weekly The North London Press, Parke got wind of the affair when one of his reporters brought him the story of Newlove’s conviction. Parke began to question why the prostitutes had been given such light sentences relative to their offence (the usual penalty for “gross indecency” was two years) and how Hammond had been able to evade arrest. His curiosity aroused, Parke found out that the boys had named prominent aristocrats. He subsequently ran a story on 28 September hinting at their involvement but without detailing specific names.[27] It was only on 16 November that he published a follow up story specifically naming Henry Fitzroy, Earl of Euston, in “an indescribably loathsome scandal in Cleveland Street”.[28] He further alleged that Euston may have gone to Peru and that he had been allowed to escape to cover up the involvement of a more highly placed person,[29] who was not named but was believed by some to be Prince Albert Victor, the son of the Prince of Wales.[30]

Euston was in fact still in England and immediately filed a case against Parke for libel. At the trial, Euston admitted that when walking along Piccadilly a tout had given him a card which read “Poses plastiques. C. Hammond, 19 Cleveland Street”. Euston testified that he went to the house believing Poses plastiques meant a display of female nudes. He paid a sovereign to get in but upon entering Euston said he was appalled to discover the “improper” nature of the place and immediately left. The defence witnesses contradicted each other, and could not describe Euston accurately.[31] The final defence witness, John Saul, was a male prostitute who had earlier been involved in a homosexual scandal at Dublin Castle, and featured in a clandestinely published erotic novel The Sins of the Cities of the Plain which was cast as his autobiography.[32] Delivering his testimony in a manner described as “brazen effrontery”, Saul admitted to earning his living by leading an “immoral life” and “practising criminality”, and detailed his alleged sexual encounters with Euston at the house.[33] The defence did not call either Newlove or Veck as witnesses, and could not produce any evidence that Euston had left the country. On 16 January 1890, the jury found Parke guilty and the judge sentenced him to twelve months in prison.[34] One historian considers Euston was telling the truth and only visited Cleveland Street once because he was misled by the card.[35] However, another has alleged Euston was a well-known figure in the homosexual underworld, and was extorted so often by the notorious blackmailer Robert Clifford, that Oscar Wilde had quipped Clifford deserved the Victoria Cross for his tenacity.[36] Saul stated that he told the police his story in August, which provoked the judge to rhetorically enquire why the authorities had not taken action.[37]
The judge, Sir Henry Hawkins, had a distinguished career, as did the other lawyers employed in the case. The prosecuting counsels, Charles Russell and Willie Mathews, went on to become Lord Chief Justice and Director of Public Prosecutions, respectively. The defence counsel, Frank Lockwood, later became Solicitor General for England and Wales, and he was assisted by H. H. Asquith, who became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twenty years later.[38]

Henry Labouchère accused the government of conspiring to hush up the scandal.
While Parke’s conviction cleared Euston, another trial began on 16 December 1889 when Newlove’s and Somerset’s solicitor, Arthur Newton, was charged with obstruction of justice. It was alleged that he conspired to prevent Hammond and the boys from testifying by offering or giving them passage and money to go abroad. Newton was defended by Charles Russell, who had prosecuted Ernest Parke, and the prosecutor was Sir Richard Webster, the Attorney General. Newton pleaded guilty to one of the six charges against him, claiming that he had assisted Hammond to flee merely to protect his clients, who were not at that time charged with any offence or under arrest, from potential blackmail. The Attorney General accepted Newton’s pleas and did not present any evidence on the other five charges.[39] On 20 May, the judge, Sir Lewis Cave, sentenced Newton to six weeks in prison,[40] which was widely considered by members of the legal profession to be harsh. A petition signed by 250 London law firms was sent to the Home Secretary, Henry Matthews, protesting at Newton’s treatment.[41

During Newton’s trial, a motion in Parliament sought to investigate Parke’s allegations of a cover-up. Henry Labouchère, a Member of Parliament from the Radical wing of the Liberal Party, was staunchly against homosexuality and had campaigned successfully to add the “gross indecency” amendment (known as the “Labouchère Amendment”) to the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. He was convinced that the conspiracy to cover up the scandal went further up the government than assumed. Labouchère made his suspicions known in Parliament on 28 February 1890. He denied that “a gentleman of very high position”—presumably Prince Albert Victor—was in any way involved with the scandal, but accused the government of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by hampering the investigation, allowing Somerset and Hammond to escape, delaying the trials and failing to prosecute the case with vigour. Labouchère’s accusations were rebutted by the Attorney General, Sir Richard Webster, who was also the prosecutor in the Newton case. Charles Russell, who had prosecuted Parke and was defending Newton, sat on the Liberal benches with Labouchère but refused to be drawn into the debate. After an often passionate debate over seven hours, during which Labouchère was expelled from Parliament after saying “I do not believe Lord Salisbury” and refusing to withdraw his remark, the motion was defeated by a wide margin, 206–66.[42]


Public interest in the scandal eventually faded. Nevertheless, newspaper coverage reinforced negative attitudes about male homosexuality as an aristocratic vice, presenting the telegraph boys as corrupted and exploited by members of the upper class. This attitude reached its climax a few years later when Oscar Wilde was tried for gross indecency as the result of his affair with Lord Alfred Douglas.

Oscar Wilde alluded to the scandal in The Picture of Dorian Gray, first published in 1890.[43] Reviews of the novel were hostile; in a clear reference to the Cleveland Street scandal, one reviewer called it suitable for “none but outlawed noblemen and perverted telegraph boys”.[44][45][46] Wilde’s 1891 revision of the novel omitted certain key passages, which were considered too homoerotic.[46][47] In 1895, Wilde unsuccessfully sued Lord Alfred’s father, the Marquess of Queensberry, for libel. Sir Edward Carson, Lord Queensberry’s counsel, used quotes from the novel against Wilde and questioned him about his associations with young working men.[48] After the failure of his suit, Wilde was charged with gross indecency, found guilty and subsequently sentenced to two years’ hard labour. He was prosecuted by Charles Gill, who had defended Veck in the Cleveland Street case.[


Prince Albert Victor of Wales was created Duke of Clarence and Avondale the year after the scandal.
Prince Albert Victor died in 1892, but society gossip about his sex life continued. Sixty years after the scandal the official biographer of King George V, Harold Nicolson, was told by Lord Goddard, who was a twelve-year-old schoolboy at the time of the scandal, that Prince Albert Victor “had been involved in a male brothel scene, and that a solicitor had to commit perjury to clear him. The solicitor was struck off the rolls for his offence, but was thereafter reinstated.”[50] In fact, none of the lawyers involved in the case was convicted of perjury or struck off at the time, indeed most had very distinguished careers. However, Arthur Newton was struck off for 12 months for professional misconduct in 1910 after falsifying letters from another of his clients—the notorious murderer Harvey Crippen.[51] In 1913, he was struck off indefinitely and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for obtaining money by false pretences.[52] Newton may have invented and spread the rumours about Prince Albert Victor in an attempt to protect his clients from prosecution by forcing a cover-up.[53] State papers on the case in the Public Record Office, released to the public in the 1970s, provide no information on the prince’s involvement other than Newton’s threat to implicate him.[54] Hamilton Cuffe wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Augustus Stephenson, “I am told that Newton has boasted that if we go on a very distinguished person will be involved (PAV). I don’t mean to say that I for one instant credit it—but in such circumstances as this one never knows what may be said, be concocted or be true.”[55] Surviving private letters from Somerset to his friend Lord Esher, confirm that Somerset knew of the rumours but did not know if they were true. He writes, “I can quite understand the Prince of Wales being much annoyed at his son’s name being coupled with the thing … we were both accused of going to this place but not together … I wonder if it is really a fact or only an invention.”[56] In his correspondence, Sir Dighton Probyn refers to “cruel and unjust rumours with regard to PAV” and “false reports dragging PAV’s name into the sad story”.[57] When Prince Albert Victor’s name appeared in the American press, the New York Herald published an anonymous letter, almost certainly written by Charles Hall, saying “there is not, and never was, the slightest excuse for mentioning the name of Prince Albert Victor.”[58] Biographers who believe the rumours suppose that Prince Albert Victor was bisexual,[59] but this is strongly contested by others who refer to him as “ardently heterosexual” and his involvement in the rumours as “somewhat unfair”.[60]

Notes & Sources

  1. Aronson, pp. 8–10 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 20–23
  2. Aronson, pp. 11, 16–17 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 23–24
  3. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 23
  4. Aronson, p. 11 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 25
  5. Aronson, p. 135
  6. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 26–33
  7. Aronson, pp. 11, 133 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 25
  8. Aronson, pp. 134–135 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 34–35
  9. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 35
  10. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 38
  11. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 35, 45, 47
  12. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 42, 46
  13. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 47–53
  14. Aronson, p. 137
  15. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 74–77
  16. Aronson, p. 136 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 27, 34
  17. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 61
  18. Aronson, p. 140 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 80–81
  19. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 82–86
  20. Aronson, p. 142
  21. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 93
  22. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 94
  23. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 97
  24. Aronson, p. 144 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 98–99
  25. Aronson, p. 150
  26. Aronson, p. 175
  27. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 106–107
  28. North London Press, 16 November 1889, quoted in Hyde, The Other Love, p. 125
  29. Aronson, p. 150 and Hyde, The Other Love, p. 125
  30. Hyde, The Other Love, p. 123
  31. Aronson, pp. 151–159 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 113–116, 139–143
  32. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 108
  33. Saul quoted in Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 146–147
  34. Aronson, pp. 151–159 and Hyde, The Other Love, pp. 125–127
  35. Hyde, The Other Love, p. 127
  36. Aronson, p. 160
  37. Lord Euston’s Libel Case, South Australian Register, 18 February 1890, p. 5
  38. Aronson, p. 153 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 135
  39. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 162–207
  40. Aronson, p. 173
  41. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 208–212
  42. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 215–231
  43. In chapter 12 of the original 1890 version, one of the characters, Basil Hallward, refers to “Sir Henry Ashton, who had to leave England, with a tarnished name”.
  44. “Reviews and Magazines”. Scots Observer, 5 July 1890, p. 181
  45. Bristow, Joseph (2006). “Introduction” In: Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Oxford World’s Classic, Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280729-8. p. xxi
  46. Ackroyd, Peter (1985). “Appendix 2: Introduction to the First Penguin Classics Edition” In: Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Penguin Classics, Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-043784-3. pp. 224–225
  47. Mighall, Robert (2000). “Introduction” In: Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Penguin Classics, Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-043784-3. p. xvi
  48. Kaplan, Morris B. (2004). “Literature in the Dock: The Trials of Oscar Wilde”. Journal of Law and Society 31: (No. 1) 113–130
  49. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 45
  50. Lees-Milne, p. 231
  51. Cook, pp. 284–285
  52. Cook, pp. 285–286 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 253
  53. Prince Eddy: The King We Never Had. Channel 4. Accessed 1 May 2010.
  54. Cook, pp. 172–173
  55. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 55
  56. Lord Arthur Somerset to Reginald Brett, 2nd Viscount Esher, 10 December 1889, quoted in Cook, p. 197
  57. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 127
  58. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 129
  59. Aronson, pp. 116–120, 170, 217
  60. Bradford, p. 10


  • Aronson, Theo (1994). Prince Eddy and the Homosexual Underworld. London: John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-5278-8
  • Bradford, Sarah (1989). King George VI. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-79667-4
  • Cook, Andrew (2006). Prince Eddy: The King Britain Never Had. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7524-3410-1
  • Hyde, H. Montgomery (1970). The Other Love: An Historical and Contemporary Survey of Homosexuality in Britain. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-35902-5
  • Hyde, H. Montgomery (1976). The Cleveland Street Scandal. London: W. H. Allen. ISBN 0-491-01995-5
  • Lees-Milne, James (1981). Harold Nicolson: A Biography. Volume 2: 1930–1968 London: Chatto & Windus. ISBN 0-7011-2602-7

Lord Henry Arthur George Somerset

Major Lord Henry Arthur George Somerset DL (17 November 1851 – 26 May 1926) was the third son of the 8th Duke of Beaufort and his wife, the former Lady Georgiana Curzon. He was head of the stables of the future King Edward VII (then Prince of Wales) and a Major in the Royal Horse Guards.

He was linked with the Cleveland Street scandal, wherein he was identified and named by several male prostitutes as a customer of their services. He was interviewed by police on 7 August 1889; although the record of the interview has not survived, it resulted in a report being made by the Attorney-General, Solicitor-General and Director of Prosecutions urging that proceedings should be taken against him under section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. A piece of paper was pasted over Somerset’s name in the report, as it was deemed so sensitive. However, the Director was told that the Home Secretary wished him to take no action for the moment.[1] The police obtained a further statement implicating Somerset, while Somerset arranged for his solicitor to act in the defence of the boys arrested over the scandal. After the police saw him for a second time on 22 August, Somerset obtained leave from his regiment and permission to go abroad.[2]
Lord Arthur went to Homburg, although he returned to England. When tipped off in September that charges were imminent, he fled to France to avoid them. From there he travelled through Constantinople, Budapest, Vienna, and then back to France, where he settled and died in 1926, aged 74.[3


  • H. Montgomery Hyde, “The Cleveland Street Scandal” (W.H. Allen Ltd, 1976), p. 32-3.
  • H. Montgomery Hyde, “The Cleveland Street Scandal” (W.H. Allen Ltd, 1976), p. 35.
  • Kaplan, Morris B. (2005), Sodom on the Thames: Sex, Love, And Scandal in Wilde Times, Cornell University Press, ISBN 0-8014-3678-8

Henry James FitzRoy, Earl of Euston


Euston in Masonic attire
Henry James FitzRoy, Earl of Euston DL (28 November 1848 – 10 May 1912) was the eldest son and heir apparent of Augustus FitzRoy, 7th Duke of Grafton.

Euston married Kate Walsh, daughter of John Walsh, on 29 May 1871 at St. Michael’s Church, Worcester. His wife died in 1903, nine years before him. They had no children. Euston was appointed a deputy lieutenant of Northamptonshire in 1907.[1] He died at Wakefield Lodge, Potterspury, Northamptonshire, six years before his father, and so never inherited his father’s lands and titles. His younger brother, Alfred, became the 8th Duke of Grafton.
Euston was embroiled in the Cleveland Street scandal when he was accused of visiting a male brothel at 19 Cleveland Street in London by The North London Press, an obscure radical weekly newspaper. Euston sued for libel. At the trial Euston admitted that when walking along Piccadilly he had been given a card by a tout which read “Poses plastiques. C. Hammond, 19 Cleveland Street”. Euston testified that he went along to the house, believing Poses plastiques to mean a display of female nudes. He paid a sovereign to get in. On entry, Euston said he was appalled to discover the “improper” nature of the place and immediately left. The defence witnesses contradicted each other, and could not describe Euston accurately.[2] The final defence witness, John Saul, was a male prostitute who admitted to earning his living by leading an “immoral life” and “practising criminality”.[3] The jury did not believe the defence witnesses and found in favour of Euston.[4] H. Montgomery Hyde, an eminent historian of homosexuality, later wrote that there was little doubt that Euston was telling the truth and only visited 19 Cleveland Street once because he was misled by the card.[5]
Robert Cliburn, a young man who specialized in blackmailing older homosexual men, told Oscar Wilde that Euston was one of his victims [6]


  1. The London Gazette: no. 28054. p. 5868. 27 August 1907.
  2. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp.113–116, 139–143
  3. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp.146–147
  4. Hyde, The Other Love, p.125–127
  5. Hyde, The Other Love, p.127
  6. McKenna, p.182


  • Hyde, H. Montgomery (1970). The Other Love: An Historical and Contemporary Survey of Homosexuality in Britain. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-35902-5
  • Hyde, H. Montgomery (1976). The Cleveland Street Scandal. London: W. H. Allen. ISBN 0-491-01995-5
  • McKenna, Neil (2005). The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde. New York: Basic Books.


The Cleveland Street Scandal

HISTORICAL NOTES: In 1889, the year in which this scandal takes place, it is legal for girls aged 12 and boys aged 14 to marry (with parental consent). Most people started work at the age of 6 (or younger) to help support their families and men had a life expectancy of just 40-45 years of age. Male homosexuality was illegal and punishable, if convicted of buggery, to penal servitude for life or for any term of not less than ten years. The death penalty for buggery had only recently been abolished in 1861.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century a gentleman by the name of Charles Hammond ran a male brothel located at No 19 Cleveland Street in London, just north of Oxford Street near Tottenham Court Road.
Hammond catered for a largely aristocratic clientele and for a number of years the existence of his establishment remained unknown to the authorities.
This all changed on 4th July 1889 when a 15 year old telegraph boy called Charles Swinscow was searched as part of an ongoing investigation into money theft at his employers, the General Post Office.
It was a telegraph boys job to cycle around London delivering telegrams and urgent messages to homes and businesses. His wage would have been about eleven shillings per week, however when he was searched, eighteen shillings were found in his pockets, more than a weeks salary to such a young man. Swinscow was taken in for questioning as part of the police operation.
When asked how he came to have such a large sum of money in his possession, Swinscow panicked and confessed he’d been recruited by Charles Hammond to work at a house in Cleveland Street where, for the sum of four shillings a time, he would permit the brothel’s clients to “have a go between my legs” and “put their persons into me”.
He then identified a number of other young telegraph boys who were also renting themselves out in this manner at the Cleveland Street establishment, leading to the apprehension and questioning of Henry Newlove, Algernon Allies and Charles Thickbroom.
Who Was Involved:

  • Henry Horace Newlove 16 yrs Telegraph Boy – GPO ‘Recruiter’ for Hammond
  • Charles Thomas Swinscow 15 yrs Telegraph Boy – First boy arrested for ‘theft’
  • George Alma Wright 17 yrs Telegraph Boy – ‘Performed’ with Newlove for voyeurs
  • Charles Ernest Thickbroom 17 yrs Telegraph Boy
  • William Meech Perkins 16 yrs Telegraph Boy – ID’s Lord Alfred Somerset as a ‘client’
  • Algernon Edward Allies 19 yrs Houseboy – The Marlborough Club, used by Lord Somerset
  • George Barber 17 yrs George Veck’s ‘Private Secretary’ and boyfriend
  • John Saul 37 yrs Infamous London rent boy – Possibly aka Jack Saul
  •  Charles Hammond 35 yrs Brothel keeper of 19 Cleveland Street, London
  • George Daniel Veck aka Rev George Veck aka Rev George Barber40 yrs Ex General Post Office (GPO) employee, sacked for indecency with Telegraph boys. Lives at 19 Cleveland Street. Kept a coffee house in Gravesend, Kent. Has an 18 year old ‘son’ that travels with him.
  • PC Luke Hanks Police officer attached to the General Post Office
  • Mr Phillips Snr postal official who questions Swinscow with Hanks
  • Mr C H Raikes The Postmaster General
  • Mr James Monro Metropolitan Police Commissioner
  • Frederick Abberline 46 yrs Police Chief Inspector, infamous for the ‘Jack the Ripper’ investigations in 1888, London’s Whitechapel district
  • PC Richard Sladden Police officer who carried out observations on the Cleveland Street brothel following Swinscow’s arrest
  • Arthur Newton Lord Arthur Somerset’s solicitor. Later to defend Oscar Wilde at his trial in 1895 and notorious murderer Dr Crippen
  •  Prince Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence 25 yrs Rumoured to be a ‘Brothel Client’ – Went on a seven month tour of British India in Sept 1889 to avoid the press & trials
  • Colonel Jervois of the 2nd Life Guards ‘Brothel Client’ – Winchester Army Barracks
  • Lord Arthur Somerset, aka Mr Brown 37 yrs ‘Brothel Client’ – Named in Allies letters as ‘Mr Brown’
  • Henry James Fitzroy, 39 yrs Accused of being a ‘Brothel Client’ – Earl of Euston
  • Sir Augustus Stephenson Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)
  • Hon Hamilton Cuffe Assistant DPP – Six years later he would prosecute Oscar Wilde at his trial in 1895 as the Director of Public Prosecutions
  • Ernest Parke Journalist – North London Press

After The Arrests
The officer in charge of the case was Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline, famous for being in charge of the detectives investigating the Jack-The_Ripper murders a year earlier in 1888
Abberline procured a warrant to arrest Charles Hammond on a charge of conspiracy to “to commit the abominable crime of buggery”, but when officers went to Cleveland Street, they found that Hammond had already absconded.
The police made arrangements to observe the comings and goings at No 19 Cleveland Street in case Hammond returned. They noted that a ‘Mr Brown’ called at the address on the 9th and 13th July 1889, later identified by both Swinscow and Thickbroom on the 25th July as one of the their clients.
Police followed Mr Brown back to army barracks in Knightsbridge where he was formally identified as Lord Arthur Somerset, younger son of Henry Charles Somerset, the 8th Duke of Beaufort. Lord Arthur was a Major in the Royal Horse Guards and equerry to Edward, Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII.
Papers were sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions with a view to prosecuting Lord Arthur on a charge of gross indecency. The Prince of Wales was incredulous when he heard of it 
“I won’t believe it, any more than I should if they accused the Archbishop of Canterbury” he said.
Despite this gesture of support, Lord Somerset placed the matter in the hands of his solicitor Arthur Newton. 
Newton contacted the DPP and mentioned that if his client were to be prosecuted, he might have to name Prince Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence, as another brothel client whilst giving his evidence in court.
Given that Prince Albert Victor was the eldest son of the Prince of Wales and second in line to the throne, it was clear that the government would not want his name associated with the homosexual brothel at Cleveland Street.
The authorities appeared to drag their heels over the matter, delaying the court case, which allowed Lord Arthur Somerset the opportunity to flee abroad. By the 18th October 1889 he was safely in Boulogne, France. He remained in exile for the remainder of his life and eventually died on the French Riviera in 1926.
But whilst Somerset escaped prosecution, the same could not be said of the unfortunate ‘rent boys’ caught up in the investigation. Swinscow together with Henry Newlove, Algernon Allies and Charles Thickbroom were brought before the Old Bailey in September 1889 and charged with gross indecency. All were convicted. Newlove received a sentence of four months with hard labour whilst the others each got nine months.
This might have been the end of the story had it not been for a journalist named Ernest Parke, who ran a story on 28th September 1889 in the ‘North London Press’, claiming that the “heir to a duke and the younger son of a duke” had frequented Cleveland Street.
Again, on the 16th November 1889 Parke went so far as to name both Arthur Somerset and Henry James Fitzroy, the Earl of Euston, as the men in question and dropped a broad hint to his readers that a member of the royal family was also involved, referring to a gentleman “more distinguished and more highly placed”.
Ernest Parke believed that it was safe to name the two young aristocrats as they had both fled the country. He was correct as far as Lord Arthur Somerset was concerned, but the Earl of Euston was not in Peru as Parke thought, but still in England. In order to defend his reputation, Henry James Fitzroy felt obliged to bring a charge for criminal libel against Edward Parke.
The trial was heard at the Old Bailey on the 19th January 1890. Whilst Henry James Fitzroy admitted that he had been to 19 Cleveland Street, he claimed that it was all a mistake. According to his own testimony, he had only gone there after being given a card touting a ‘tableaux plastique’ (nude women) at the address, and that once he realised the true nature of the establishment, had made his excuses and left.
Ernest Parke however produced a witness named John Saul (AKA Jack Saul), who went into some detail describing the kind of services that he had provided for Henry James Fitzroy at the Cleveland Street brothel. Being a self-confessed prostitute, Saul’s evidence was easily ‘discredited’ and Ernest Parke was found guilty of libel without justification and sentenced to one year’s imprisonment with hard labour.
One more trial was to arise as a result of the Cleveland Street scandal in respect of the activities of Arthur Newton, defence solicitor to the aforementioned Arthur Somerset who, it was believed, had helped Somerset evade justice. Newton was brought before the court on the 12th December 1889 and charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice for allegedly interfering with witnesses and arranging their disappearance to France.
He was convicted but received the relatively mild punishment of six weeks in prison. He was even allowed to resume his legal practice, representing the author and playwright Oscar Wilde in own trial for gross indecency with other men five years later in 1895.
This was still not quite the end of the matter as the MP Henry Labouchère, a noted campaigner against ‘homosexual vice’, who had earlier been responsible for including the offence of ‘gross indecency’ within the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, became convinced that some kind of ‘cover-up’ had been launched by the authorities.
On the 28th February 1890 he tried to persuade Parliament to establish a committee to investigate the whole affair, but his motion was defeated by a vote of 204 to 66. Henry felt so strongly on the matter that he became over animated during the debate on his motion and he was suspended from Parliament for a week.
Thus the Cleveland Street Scandal passed into history and ceased to be a matter of contemporary significance, however, from evidence that has since become available, it now appears that the Duke of Clarence was indeed a likely client of the Cleveland Street brothel. If indeed it were true, it would be very likely that some kind of damage limitation exercise was carried out at the highest levels of the British Government to protect him.

I grateful acknowledge the following works used in my research:

  1. The Cleveland Street Affair – Colin Simpson, Lewis Chester & David Leitch
  2. The Cleveland Street Scandal – H Montgomery Hyde
  3. Cleveland Street ‘The Musical’ – Glenn Chandler & Matt Devereaux

Gay History: How Bona To Vada Your Eek! Polari – The Gay Lingo

The most fascinating aspect of Polari isn’t so much what we no longer use, as how much we still use both on the scene, and in everyday slang.

From Wikipedia

Polari (or alternatively Parlare, Parlary, Palare, Palarie, Palari; from Italian parlare, “to talk”) is a form of cant slang used in Britain by actors, circus and fairground showmen, merchant navy sailors, criminals, prostitutes, and the gay subculture. There is some debate about its origins,[3] but it can be traced back to at least the nineteenth century and possibly the sixteenth century.[4] There is a long-standing connection with Punch and Judy street puppet performers who traditionally used Polari to converse.[5]


Polari is a mixture of Romance (Italian[6] or Mediterranean Lingua Franca), Romani, London slang,[6] backslang, rhyming slang, sailor slang, and thieves’ cant. Later it expanded to contain words from the Yiddish language and from 1960s drug users. It was a constantly developing form of language, with a small core lexicon of about 20 words (including bona (good [7]), ajax (nearby), eek (face), cod (naff, vile), naff (bad, drab), lattie (room, house, flat), nanti (not, no), omi (man), palone (woman), riah (hair), zhoosh (tjuz) (smarten up, stylize), TBH (To Be Had, sexually accessible), trade (sex), vada (see)), and over 500 other lesser-known words.[8] According to a Channel 4 television documentary,[which?] there was once (in London) an “East End” version which stressed Cockney rhyming slang and a “West End” version which stressed theatrical and Classical influences. There was some interchange between the two.


Polari was used in London fishmarkets, the theatre, fairgrounds and circuses, hence the many borrowings from Romani. As many homosexual men worked in theatrical entertainment it was also used among the gay subculture, at a time when homosexual activity was illegal, to disguise homosexuals from hostile outsiders and undercover policemen. It was also used extensively in the British Merchant Navy, where many gay men joined ocean liners and cruise ships as waiters, stewards and entertainers.[9] On one hand, it would be used as a means of cover to allow gay subjects to be discussed aloud without being understood; on the other hand, it was also used by some, particularly the most visibly camp and effeminate, as a further way of asserting their identity.[citation needed]
The almost identical Parlyaree has been spoken in fairgrounds since at least the seventeenth century[10] and continues to be used by show travellers in England and Scotland. As theatrical booths, circus acts and menageries were once a common part of European fairs it is likely that the roots of Polari/Parlyaree lie in the period before both theatre and circus became independent of the fairgrounds. The Parlyaree spoken on fairgrounds tends to borrow much more from Romany, as well as other languages and argots spoken by travelling people, such as cant and backslang.
Henry Mayhew gave a verbatim account of Polari as part of an interview with a Punch and Judy showman in the 1850s. The discussion he recorded references the arrival of Punch in England, crediting these early shows to a performer from Italy called Porcini (see also John Payne Collier’s account of Porsini—Payne Collier calls him Porchini—in Punch and Judy).[11] Mayhew provides the following:

Punch Talk
“‘Bona Parle’ means language; name of patter. ‘Yeute munjare’ – no food. ‘Yeute lente’ – no bed. ‘Yeute bivare’ – no drink. I’ve ‘yeute munjare,’ and ‘yeute bivare,’ and, what’s worse, ‘yeute lente.’ This is better than the costers’ talk, because that ain’t no slang and all, and this is a broken Italian, and much higher than the costers’ lingo. We know what o’clock it is, besides.”[5]

There are additional accounts of particular words that relate to puppet performance: “‘Slumarys’ – figures, frame, scenes, properties. ‘Slum’ – call, or unknown tongue”[5] (“unknown” is a reference to the “swazzle”, a voice modifier used by Punch performers, the structure of which was a longstanding trade secret).
There are many sources of polari lexicons or “dictionaries” online, most of which are random collections with little or no research, rather than a descriptive list of terms in use.

Decline in use

Polari had begun to fall into disuse amongst the gay subculture by the late 1960s. The popularity of the Julian and Sandy characters played by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams ensured that some of this secret language became public property,[12] and the gay liberationists of the 1970s viewed it as rather degrading and divisive as it was often used to gossip about, or criticise, others, as well as to discuss sexual exploits. In addition, the need for a secret subculture code declined with the legalisation of adult homosexual acts in England and Wales in 1967.

In popular culture

Polari was popularised in the 1960s on the popular BBC radio show Round the Horne starring Kenneth Horne. Camp Polari-speaking characters Julian and Sandy were played by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams.[12]
In the first series of British comedians’ panel television series Jokers Wild (1969), comedian Ray Martine is asked to explain the term palone (woman), which he used while telling a joke. In response to the definition, programme presenter Barry Cryer refers to Martine as a bona omi (good man).
Jason King star Peter Wyngarde recorded a self-titled album in 1970 which contained the song “Hippie and the Skinhead” about Billy the “queer sexy hippie” “trolling the Dilly”.
In the long running BBC Programme Doctor Who, in the episode “Carnival of Monsters”, Vorg, a showman, believing The Doctor to be one himself, attempts to converse with him in Polari. The Doctor states that he doesn’t understand him.[13]
In 2015, filmmakers Brian Fairbairn and Karl Eccleston made a short film entirely in Polari, entitled “Putting on the Dish”.[14]

The lyrics to David Bowie’s 2016 song “Girl Loves Me” consist chiefly of a blend of Polari and Nadsat slang.
Use today


Bona Togs clothes shop

Since the mid-1990s, with the redistribution of cassettes and CDs of Round The Horne, and with increasing academic interest, Polari has undergone something of a revival. New words are being invented and updated to refer to more recent cultural concepts.[citation needed]

  • In 1990, Morrissey titled an album Bona Drag – Polari for “nice outfit” – and the single “Piccadilly Palare”.
  • Also in 1990, comic book writer Grant Morrison created the Polari-speaking character Danny the Street (based on Danny La Rue), a sentient transvestite street, for the comic Doom Patrol.
  • The 1998 film Velvet Goldmine, which chronicles a fictional retelling of the rise and fall of glam rock, contains a flashback to 1970 in which a group of characters converse in Polari, while their words are subtitled.
  • In 2002, two books on Polari were published, Polari: The Lost Language of Gay Men, and Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang (both by Paul Baker). Also in 2002, hip hop artist Juha released an album called Polari, with the chorus of the title song written entirely in the slang.
  • Characters in Will Self’s story Foie Humain, the first part of Liver, use Polari.
  • Comedians Paul O’Grady, Julian Clary, David Walliams, and Matt Lucas incorporate Polari in their comedy routines, as did Rik Mayall.[citation needed]
  • In 2012, artists Jez Dolan and Joseph Richardson created an iPhone app which makes available the Polari lexicon and comprehensive list of etymologies.[15][16]

Entry into standard English

A number of words from Polari have entered mainstream slang.
The Polari word naff, meaning inferior or tacky, has an uncertain etymology. Michael Quinion states that it is probably from the sixteenth-century Italian word gnaffa, meaning “a despicable person”.[17] There are a number of folk etymologies, many based on acronyms—Not Available For Fucking, Normal As Fuck—though these are backronyms. More likely etymologies include northern UK dialect naffhead, naffin, or naffy, a simpleton or blockhead; niffy-naffy, inconsequential, stupid, or Scots nyaff, a term of contempt for any unpleasant or objectionable person. An alternative etymology may lie in the Romany naflo, itself rooted in násfalo, meaning ill. The phrase “naff off” was used euphemistically in place of “fuck off” along with the intensifier “naffing” in Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse (1959).[18] Usage of “naff” increased in the 1970s when television sitcom Porridge employed it as an alternative to expletives which were not considered broadcastable at the time.[17] Princess Anne famously told a reporter, “Why don’t you just naff off” at the Badminton horse trials in April 1982.[19]
“Zhoosh” (/ˈʒʊʃ/, /ˈʒuːʃ/ or /ˈʒʊʒ/[20]) (generally pronounced “zhuzh” with the vowel sound of “hood”) meaning to smarten up, style or improve something, became commonplace more recently, having been used in the 2003 United States TV series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and What Not to Wear.

Polari glossary

Word Definition

acdc, bibi- bisexual[21]

ajax – nearby (shortened form of “adjacent to”)[21]

alamo! – they’re attractive! (via acronym “LMO” meaning “Lick Me Out!)[22]

aunt nell listen![23]

aunt nells – ears[24]

aunt nelly fakes – earrings[25]

aunt nell danglers – earrings[citation needed]

barney – a fight[26]

basket- the bulge of male genitalia through clothes[citation needed]

bat, batts, bates – shoes[26]

bitch – effeminate or passive gay man

bijou – small/little (means “jewel” in French)[27]

blag-, pick up[28]

blue -,code word for “homosexual”[citation needed]

bod – body[citation needed]

bona – good[29]

bona nochy – goodnight (from Italian – buona notte)[23]

bonaroo – wonderful, excellent[citation needed]

bungery – pub, this comes from bung.[citation needed]

butch -,masculine; masculine lesbian[30]

buvare – a drink; something drinkable (from Italian – bere or old-fashioned Italian – bevere or Lingua Franca bevire)[30]

cackle – talk/gossip[31]

camp – effeminate (possibly from Italian campare “exaggerate, make stand out”)

capello, capella, capelli, kapella – hat (from Italian, also Greek – cappello)[31]

carsey, karsey, khazi – toilet[31]

cartes – penis (from Italian – cazzo)[32]

cats – trousers[31]

charper – to search or to look (from Italian – acchiappare – to catch)[33]

charpering omi -,policeman

charver – sexual intercourse[28]

chicken – young man

clobber – clothes[34]

cod – bad[35]

cottage – a public lavatory used for sexual encounters

cottaging – seeking or obtaining sexual encounters in public lavatories

cove – taxi[36]

crimper – hairdresser[citation needed]

dally – sweet, kind. Possibly an alternate pronunciation of dolly.[citation needed]

dilly boy – a male prostitute[citation needed]

dinari – money (Latin denarii was the ‘d’ of the pre decimal penny)[citation needed]

dish – buttocks[24]

dolly – pretty, nice, pleasant, from Irish Gaelic dóighiúil ‘handsome’ pronounced ‘doil’

dona – woman (perhaps from Italian donna or Lingua Franca dona)[37]

dorcas – term of endearment, ‘one who cares’. The Dorcas Society was a ladies’ church association of the nineteenth century, which made clothes for the poor.[citation needed]

drag – clothes, esp. women’s clothes (prob from Romani — indraka — skirt; also possibly from German – tragen – v. to wear (clothes))[citation needed]

doss – bed[citation needed]

ecaf – face (backslang)[38]

eek – face (abbreviation of ecaf)[38]

ends – hair[citation needed]

esong, sedon – nose (backslang)[39]

fantabulosa – fabulous/wonderful

feele/freely/filly child- young (from the Italian figlio, for son)

fruit – queen

funt – pound

gelt – money (Yiddish)

handbag – money

hoofer – dancer

HP (homy polone) – effeminate gay man

jarry – food, also mangarie (from Italian mangiare or Lingua Franca mangiaria)

jubes -,breasts

kaffies – trousers

khazi – toilet, also spelt carsey

lacoddy – body

lallies (lylies) – legs, sometimes also knees (as in “get down on yer lallies”)

lallie tappers- feet

latty/lattie – room, house or flat

lills – hands

lilly – police (Lilly Law)

lyles – legs (prob. from “Lisle stockings”)

lucoddy – body

luppers – fingers (Yiddish — lapa — paw)

mangarie – food, also jarry (from Italian mangiare or Lingua Franca mangiaria)

martinis – hands

measures – money

meese – plain, ugly (from Yiddish “meeiskeit, in turn from Hebrew מָאוּס repulsive, loathsome, despicable, abominable)

meshigener – nutty, crazy, mental (from Yiddish ‘meshugge’, in turn from Hebrew מְשֻׁגָּע crazy)

metzas – money (Italian -mezzi “means, wherewithal”)

mince – walk (affectedly)

naff – awful, dull, hetero

nanti – not, no, none (Italian — niente)

national handbag – dole, welfare, government financial assistance

ogle -,look, admire

ogles – eyes

oglefakes – glasses

omi – man (from Romance)

omi-palone – effeminate man, or homosexual

onk – nose (cf “conk”)

orbs – eyes

oven – mouth (nanti pots in the oven = no teeth in the mouth)

palare pipe – telephone (“talk pipe”)

palliass – back

park, parker – give

plate feet – to fellate

palone – woman (Italian paglione – “straw mattress”, [cf. old Cant “hay-bag” = woman]); also spelled “polony” in Graham Greene’s 1938 novel Brighton Rock

palone-omi – lesbian

pots – teeth

remould – sex change

riah/riha – hair (backslang)

riah zhoosher – hairdresser

rough trade – a working class or blue collar sex partner or potential sex partner; a tough, thuggish or potentially violent sex partner

scarper – to run off (from Italian scappare, to escape or run away or from rhyming slang Scapa Flow, to go)

schlumph – drink

scotch – leg (scotch egg=leg)

screech – mouth, speak

sharpy – policeman (from — charpering omi)

sharpy polone – policewoman

shush – steal (from client)

shush bag – hold-all

shyker/shyckle – wig (mutation of the Yiddish sheitel)

slap – makeup

so – homosexual (e.g. “Is he ‘so’?”)

stimps – legs

stimpcovers -,stockings, hosiery

strides – trousers

strillers – piano

switch – wig

thews – thighs

tober – road (a Shelta word, Irish bóthar)

todd (Sloanne) – alone

tootsie trade – sex between two passive homosexuals (as in: ‘I don’t do tootsie trade’)

trade – sex, sex-partner, potential sex-partner

troll -,to walk about (esp. looking for trade)

vada/varder – to see (from Italian — dialect vardare = guardare – look at)

vardered — vardering

vera (lynn) – gin
vogue – cigarette (from Lingua Franca — fogus – “fire, smoke”)

vogueress – female smoker

willets – breasts

yews – (from French “yeux”) eyes

zhoosh -,style hair, tart up, mince (Romani – “zhouzho” – clean, neat)

zhoosh our riah — style our hair

zhooshy – showy

Polai in use

Omies and palones of the jury, vada well at the eek of the poor ome who stands before you, his lallies trembling.—taken from “Bona Law”, a Round The Horne sketch written by Barry Took and Marty Feldman
Translation: “Men and women of the jury, look well at the face of the poor man who stands before you, his legs trembling.”

So bona to vada…oh you! Your lovely eek and your lovely riah.—taken from “Piccadilly Palare”, a song by Morrissey
Translation: “So good to see…oh you! Your lovely face and your lovely hair.”

As feely ommes…we would zhoosh our riah, powder our eeks, climb into our bona new drag, don our batts and troll off to some bona bijou bar. In the bar we would stand around with our sisters, vada the bona cartes on the butch omme ajax who, if we fluttered our ogle riahs at him sweetly, might just troll over to offer a light for the unlit vogue clenched between our teeth.—taken from Parallel Lives, the memoirs of renowned gay journalist Peter Burton
Translation: “As young men…we would style our hair, powder our faces, climb into our great new clothes, don our shoes and wander/walk off to some great little bar. In the bar we would stand around with our gay companions, look at the great genitals on the butch man nearby who, if we fluttered our eyelashes at him sweetly, might just wander/walk over to offer a light for the unlit cigarette clenched between our teeth.”

In the Are You Being Served? episode “The Old Order Changes”, Captain Peacock asks Mr Humphries to get “some strides for the omi with the naff riah” (i.e. trousers for the fellow with the unstylish hair).[40]

See also

  • African American Vernacular English (sometimes called Ebonics)
  • Bahasa Binan
  • Boontling
  • Caló (Chicano)
  • Carny, North American fairground cant
  • Gayle language
  • Gay slang
  • Grypsera
  • IsiNgqumo
  • Lavender linguistics
  • Lunfardo and Vesre
  • Rotwelsch
  • Swardspeak
  • Verlan


  1.  Polari at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2.  Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). “Polari”. Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
  3.  Quinion, Michael (1996). “How bona to vada your eek!”. WorldWideWords. Retrieved February 20, 2006.
  4.  Collins English Dictionary, Third Edition
  5.  a b c Mayhew, Henry (1968). London Labour and the London Poor, 1861 3. New York: Dover Press. p. 47.
  6. a b “British Spies: Licensed to be Gay.” Time. 19 August 2008
  7. “The secret language of polari”. Retrieved on 27 August 2015.
  8. Baker, Paul (2002) Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang. London: Continuum ISBN 0-8264-5961-7
  9. “Gay men in the Merchant Marine, Liverpool Maritime Museum”. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
  10. Partridge, Eric (1937) Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English
  11.  Punch and Judy. (with Illustrations by George Cruickshank). Thomas Hailes Lacey, London, 1859
  12. a b Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 206. ISBN 1-84854-195-3.
  13. Paul Baker (2 September 2003). Polari – The Lost Language of Gay Men. Routledge. p. 161. ISBN 9781134506347. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  14.  Lowder, J. Bryan (2015-07-28). “Listen to Polari, the Lost Art of Gay Conversation”. Slate.
  15. New Europe Online (24.11.2013)
  16.  Polari on iTunes
  17.  a b Quinion, Michael. “Naff”. World Wide Words. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  18. Waterhouse, Keith (1959). Billy Liar. Michael Joseph. pp. 35, 46. ISBN 0-7181-1155-9. p35 “Naff off, Stamp, for Christ sake!” p46 “Well which one of them’s got the naffing engagement ring?”
  19. The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English Dalzell and Victor (eds.) Routledge, 2006, Vol. II p. 1349
  20. “Definition for zhoosh – Oxford Dictionaries Online (World English)”. Retrieved 2012-06-12.
  21.  a b Baker 2003, p. 49.
  22.  Baker 2003, p. 52, 59.
  23. a b Baker 2003, p. 52.
  24. a b Baker 2003, p. 45.
  25. Baker 2003, p. 59, 60.
  26. a b Baker 2003, p. 164.
  27. Baker 2003, p. 57.
  28. a b Baker 2003, p. 46.
  29. Baker 2003, p. 26, 32, 85.
  30.  a b Baker 2003, p. 167.
  31.  a b c d Baker 2003, p. 168.
  32. Baker 2003, p. 97.
  33. Baker 2003, p. 46, 168.
  34. Baker 2003, p. 138, 139, 169.
  35. Baker 2003, p. 169.
  36. Baker 2003, p. 61.
  37. Baker 2003, p. 26.
  38.  a b Baker 2003, p. 58, 210.
  39. Baker 2003, p. 31.
  40.  “The Old Order Changes”. Are You Being Served?. 18 March 1977.


Baker, Paul (2002) Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang. London: Continuum: ISBN 0-8264-5961-7
Baker, Paul (2003). Polari – The Lost Language of Gay Men. London: Routledge. ISBN 9781134506354.

Elmes, Simon & Rosen, Michael (2002) Word of Mouth. Oxford University Press: ISBN 0-19-866263-7

External links

Chris Denning’s article on Polari with bibliography

The Polari Bible by the Manchester Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

Colin Richardsons What Brings You Trolling Back Then article

Back in the dim days of my youth, the BBC had a succession of hugely successful radio comedy programmes which have never been matched since. The BBC itself has a strong tendency to be nostalgic about them, calling them the Golden Age of Radio Comedy, though these days the gold mainly ends up in the till, now it has discovered how many other people have fond memories of the shows and are prepared to pay to hear them again on CD or cassette. The best known is almost certainly the Goon Show, attested by its Usenet newsgroup and its fan clubs in North America, Britain and elsewhere. Others included Take It from Here, Hancock’s Half Hour and Round The Horne. This last show was introduced by Kenneth Horne, an urbane straight man, who had previously partnered Richard Murdoch in Much Binding in the Marsh, a send-up of a small RAF station “somewhere in England”, but who in the intervening years had had an extremely successful business career. He was partnered by Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick and Betty Marsden, with scripts by Marty Feldman and Barry Took.

One element of the show, which was stereotypical in its layout, always featured a pair of screamingly camp young men: “Hello, I’m Julian and this is my friend Sandy”, overplayed by Williams and Paddick to an extent which robbed it of much of its latent homophobia (particularly as both were known to be gay), though I cannot imagine a similar duo being allowed anywhere near a BBC microphone in this supposedly more permissive but also infinitely more sensitive age. These two spoke in a slangy language which was virtually incomprehensible to anyone hearing it for the first time, though by repetition week by week a mental glossary could be constructed. “How bona to vada your eek!” was a recurring expression; there were references to “butch omis” and to “omipalones”; they always “trolled” everywhere, though their “lallies” weren’t up to much of that; things were “naph”, “bona” or sometimes “fantabulosa”.

This was not a constructed language, but a secret vocabulary, a cant or argot in the linguist’s term, which uses the grammar and syntax of English as well as most of its core vocabulary. It was in fairly common use in the theatre and in related branches of show business such as ballet and the circus, to the extent that a book on the Round the Horne series remarked that Williams and Paddick often really did speak like that in real life. It is variously called Palare, Palyaree, Palary or Polari from its own word for “talk” or “speech”.

HORNE: Would I have vada’d any of them do you think?

SANDY: Oooaaawwh! He’s got all the Palare, ain’t he?

JULIAN: [archly] I wonder where he picks it up?

Linguists still argue about where it came from. The larger part of its vocabulary is certainly Italian in origin, but nobody seems to know how the words got into Britain. Some experts say its origins lie in the lingua franca of the shores of the Mediterranean, a pidgin in use in the Middle Ages and afterwards as a medium of communication between sailors and traders from widely different language groups, the core of this language being Italian and Occitan. Quite a number of British sailors learnt the lingua franca. On returning home and retiring from the sea it is supposed that many of them became vagabonds or travellers, because they had no other means of livelihood; this threw them into contact with roving groups of entertainers and fairground people, who picked up some of the pidgin terms and incorporated them into their own canting private vocabularies. However, other linguists point to the substantial number of native Italians who came to Britain as entertainers in the early part of the nineteenth century, especially the Punch and Judy showmen, organ grinders and peddlars of the 1840s.

But Polari is a linguistic mongrel. Words from Romany (originally an Indian dialect), Shelta (the cant of the Irish tinkers), Yiddish, back slang, rhyming slang and other non-standard English are interspersed with words of Italian origin. Take this exchange from one of the Round the Horne sketches:

SANDY: Roll up yer trouser legs … we want to vada yer calves.

JULIAN: Hmmm … his scotches may be a bit naph but his plates are bona.

[scotch = Scotch egg = leg; plates = plates of meat = feet]

So it would not be surprising to find that both the Italian showman and the lingua franca theories are right, each contributing words at different stages in Polari’s development. This might indeed explain the substantial number of synonyms noted at various times. However, the vocabulary is not well recorded, and now may never be, because it was normal until quite recently for linguists to ignore such low-life forms, which rarely turned up in print (and then only in partial glossaries). But we do know that a few of Polari’s terms have made it across the language barrier into semi-standard English, much of it seeming to come to us via Cockney: karsey, a lavatory; mankey, poor, bad or tasteless; ponce, a pimp; and scarper to run away.

The rest have stayed within the theatrical and circus worlds, and have also been incorporated particularly into the private languages of some homosexual groups, as Julian and Sandy make very clear. Some writers have sought to claim Polari exclusively for the gay community, renaming it Gayspeak. In the 1990s it certainly seems to be heavily used by some city-based British gays (but only male gays, not lesbians), who have invented new terms like nante ’andbag for “no money” (handbag here being a self-mocking example of metonymy). However, it can scarcely have always been so, unless every fairground showman, circus performer, strolling player, cheapjack and Punch and Judy man in history was gay, which seems somewhat unlikely.

There are other characteristics of the language of Julian and Sandy. They tend to make diminuitives of nouns: would you like a bijou drinkette? for example. They also playfully invent words based on Italian models, such as fantabulosa. And they use a few terms which seem to be Polari and yet are unrecorded in glossaries: luffer = finger and nish = no, stop (as in “nish shouting!”; unpublished researches of the OED suggest this is either of Yiddish origin or comes from Irish Gaelic.)

A quick Polari lexicon:

batt = shoe; bevvy = drink (or possibly an abbreviation of beverage, or both); bijou = small; bimbo = dupe, sucker; bona = good; camp = excessive or showy or affecting mannerisms of the opposite sex; charper = to search (leading to charpering omi = policeman); dolly = nice or pleasant; dona = woman (hence the Australian slang word donah); drag = clothes (and so possibly via the gay world to the informal but widespread use meaning to dress in the clothes of the opposite sex); eek = face; fantabulosa = excellent; feele = child (hence feely omi = a young man, sometimes specifically an underaged young man); lally = leg; lattie = house, lodgings; leucoddy = body; naph = bad (quite possibly the origin of the current British English slang term naff); nante = none or nothing; ogle = eye (hence ogleriah = eyelash); omi = man; omipalone = homosexual; palare = talk; palone; woman; riah = hair (possibly back-slang); tosheroon = half a crown (two shillings and sixpence), possibly a much-corrupted form of the Italian mezzo caroon; troll, = walk, wander; vada = look; walloper = dancer; zhoosh = fix, tidy. And perhaps you might like to be able to count to ten in Polari: una, duey, trey, quater, chinker, sey, setter, otto, nobber, dacha.

Now you can have a go at translating this:

As feely homies, we would zhoosh our riahs, powder our eeks, climb into our bona new drag, don our batts and troll off to some bona bijou bar.

Basket or Packet…………The bulge in a mans jeans

Betty bracelet……………Policewoman




Bona……………………..Good, Nice

Buns……………………..Ass cheeks





Chicken……………………Young man

Charper…………………..To Search 

Charpering omi…………….Policeman 

Cottage…………………..Public Toilet

Cottaging…………………Looking for sex in a cottage 


Dish ……………………..Nice looking man, Nice arse



Drag………………………Women’s clothes 

Eek ………………………Face (Backslang ecaf) 


Fantabulosa ………………Wonderful 

Fruit………………………Old queen 

Gay……………………….Good as you








lilly Law……………………Police



Mince………………………A camp walk

Naff ………………………Awfull ( Not Available For F–king) 

Nanti………………………None, no 

National handbag ………….Dole money


Ogles…………………….. Eyes 


Omipolone………………….Camp man

Palliass…………………….Back or rear

Polari………………………Talk , to chat




Riah shusher……………….Hairdresser 

Shush bag…………………Bag or Holdall 




Troll ………………………..To go walking 

Varda………………………See, To look

A short video in polari 


Australian Gay Icons: Edward de Lacy Evans – Our First Transgender Female?

Edward De Lacy Evans (born Ellen Tremayne or Tremaye, 1830? – 25 August 1901) was a servant, blacksmith and gold miner, who immigrated from Ireland to Australia in 1856, and made international news in 1879 when it was revealed he was a woman.


Early life and name

Mystery surrounds Evans’ early life and his choice of name.[1] He told miners he worked with in Australia that he was born in France, had stolen £500 as a boy and fled to Waterford, where he acquired his Irish accent.[2] A woman living near Corop, who claimed to be a former Kilkenny neighbour, said he was the well-born ‘Ellen Lacy’ who had an illegitimate child, fled to America, but returned in the early 1850s as ‘Mrs De Lacy Evans’ to ride her horse through a gathering called by John Ponsonby, 5th Earl of Bessborough before being ‘dragged off her pony’ and forced to ‘clear out’.[3] Evans’ third wife, Julia Marquand, said the name was a family one and his uncle was the well known British General George de Lacy Evans.[4]
After his hospitalisation, Evans said little about his past, and was described as ‘not disposed to be communicative'[3] and someone who ‘observes unusual taciturnity.’.[5] Asked why he had ‘impersonated a man’, he replied ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter, and the sooner they put me out of the way and get done with me the better.'[6]

Immigration to Victoria 

In 1856, Evans arrived in Victoria, Australia, then in a goldrush ‘boom’ period, aboard the Ocean Monarch as part of the ‘assisted immigration scheme’ which aimed to provide the workers and residents needed in the growing colony.[1] Evans traveled under the name Ellen Tremayne and, in the information he provided, stated that he was aged 26, born in Kilkenny, was a Roman Catholic, a housemaid and could read and write.[1]
For most of the voyage to Australia, Evans wore the same outfit of ‘a green merino dress and sealskin coat reaching almost to her ankles’ with men’s shirt and trousers,[2] and was said to have a traveling trunk full of male attire, stamped with the name ‘Edward De Lacy Evans’.[7] This, and the fact he appeared to have ‘formed sexual attachments’ with some of the women he shared a cabin with, led to on-board speculation he was a man impersonating a woman.[1] One of these women was later identified as Rose Kelly who was said to have been taken ill and, as a result, departed at Rio de Janeiro en route,[8] while another was said to have been a Mary Montague.[7] Further speculation, from among his fellow passengers, was that the ‘real’ Edward De Lacy Evans had enticed ‘Ellen Tremayne’ to take passage with him on the ship by sending his trunk ahead but he then abandoned ‘her’.[2] A later theory, not publicly mentioned during the voyage or late 19th century newspaper reports, was that the clothes belonged to Evans, and he had been wearing them prior to his immigration, but decided to make the long sea voyage – either through fear of disclosure among men, or preferring the company of women – in a female guise.[2]

St Francis’ Church in Melbourne where Edward De Lacy Evans married Mary Delahuntly in 1856.

As a condition of his assisted passage Evans, under the name Ellen Tremayne, had been indentured as a maidservant to McKeddie, a Melton hotelkeeper, at a wage of 25 shillings per week, but he soon left the position and found one of his fellow passengers from the Ocean Monarch, Mary Delahunty.[1] Delahunty was a 34-year-old governess from Harristown, Waterford, in a similar area of Ireland to Evans, and another of the ‘close attachments’ he had made on the voyage.[1] Mrs. Thompson, a passenger on the Ocean Monarch, later said that Evans and Delahunty were from the same village in Kilkenny and that Delahunty was in possession of £900.[9] She also recalled Evans saying he would marry Delahunty ‘as soon as the ship reached Melbourne'[9] and, with Evans wearing male clothes, and calling himself ‘Edmund De Lacy’, the Roman Catholic ceremony took place at St Francis’ Church.[2]

Little is known of Evans and Delahunty’s married life over the next few years but there were reports that they ‘did not live comfortably together’.[1] Evans moved to work as a miner at Blackwood, in the state’s north-west, not far from Melton where he’d been employed as ‘Ellen Tremayne’, and Delahunty followed him in 1858.[10] Delahunty established a school in Blackwood but in 1862 left to marry Lyman Oatman Hart, an American mining surveyor.[1] Delahunty told ‘all who objected to this blatant act of bigamy’ that her first marriage was not legal as Evans was a woman.[10] Delahunty and Hart moved to Daylesford where they lived through the 1860s and 1870s.[10]


Evans also left Blackwood in 1862, moving to the central Victorian city of ‘Sandhurst’ (now known as Bendigo), and, describing himself as a widower, he married a 23-year-old Irishwoman, Sarah Moore.[10] Over the next five years he held various occupations including carter, miner, blacksmith and ploughman[1] and lived with Moore in several nearby towns.[10] He also owned shares in a number of gold mines and paid property rates in Sandhurst and the adjoining district of Eaglehawk.[1] When he was found in a servant’s bedroom at a local hotel he was jailed for trespass for seven days.[1][2]
In 1867, Moore died of pulmonary tuberculosis[1] and the following year Evans met, and married, a friend of his former wife’s sister, 25-year-old Julia Marquand.[10] Marquand was a French dressmaker’s assistant who lived with her sister and brother-in-law, the prominent Sandhurst businessman, and owner of the ‘City Family Hotel’,[1] Jean Baptiste Loridan.[10]
In the early years of their marriage Evans and Marquand often lived apart but the couple reconciled by 1872.[4] Evans progressed in his mining profession and their Sandhurst home was a cottage that he had built.[4] A formal studio portrait taken at this time may be significant in its representation of how they saw themselves and their ‘establishment of a stable and traditional family unit’.[10]

Bendigo Court House where Edward De Lacy Evans was sentenced to the ‘Lunatic Ward’ of the hospital in July 1879.
In 1877, Marquand gave birth to a daughter the couple called ‘Julia Mary’.[11] Evans later supported Marquand when she brought a child maintenance suit against her brother-in-law Jean Baptiste Loridan for the child[12] but he gave his name as father on the birth certificate.[1] Around this period Evans’ was injured at work and, while he ‘welcomed the child as his own’ he was also ‘deeply disturbed by the circumstances in which his wife became pregnant’.[11]
On 21 July 1879, Loridan took him to the Bendigo Hospital[11] as he was ‘dangerous to others’,[13] but, when told to take a bath, he refused and escaped.[13] The following day he was arrested at home and brought to the Police Court where the magistrates agreed with the medical assessment that Evans was suffering from ‘softening of the brain’ and ordered him to be involuntarily committed to ‘the lunatic wards’ of the Bendigo hospital.[14]
‘A curious incident has occurred’ Edit
For six weeks at the Bendigo Hospital Evans refused to take a bath.[6] He shared a room with a warder called Gundry to whom he said that ‘his parents were Irish, but that he had come from France when about seven or eight years of age’.[6] However, when Gundry used some French phrases, Evans claimed that he’d ‘forgotten the language’.[6] While there he had regular visits from his wife and daughter, as well as other relatives, one of whom called Evans ‘Uncle’, while Julia Mary called him ‘Dadds’.[3]
On 30 August 1879, the hospital decided to send Evans and another patient to the Kew Asylum near Melbourne, accompanied by a police constable.[6] Marquand was at the station and Evans told her to care of Julia Mary and ‘both he and his wife were weeping’ by the time they left.[6]
Kew Asylum in the 19th century where Edward De Lacy Evans was sent

 The events at the Kew Asylum were described in The Argus on 3 September 1879:

“A curious incident has occurred at Kew Lunatic Asylum. A lunatic was brought from Sandhurst by the police, and was admitted into one of the male wards. The patient was tolerably quiet until preparations were made for giving ‘him’ the usual bath. On the attendants attempting to carry out the programme, violent resistance was made, the reason for which proved to be that the supposed man was in reality a woman. The most singular part of the affair is that the woman had been received into Sandhurst Hospital as a male patient and sent thence to the asylum under the name of Evans. She states that she has lived at Sandhurst for many years dressed in male attire. Her age is about 35.”[15]
On 4 September 1879, the Bendigo Advertiser ran with the headline ‘Extraordinary Case Of Concealment Of Sex’ and wrote:

“One of the most unparalleled impostures has been brought to light during the past few days, which it has ever been the province of the press of these colonies to chronicle, and we might even add is unprecedented in the annals of the whole world. A woman, under the name of Edward De Lacy Evans, has for 20 years passed for a man in various parts of the colony of Victoria… As it is almost impossible to give an account of the case without making use of the masculine pronoun when referring to Evans, we propose to use that appellation… “[6]
It was soon reported by local newspapers, and then the ‘colonial and international press’, that Evans had been determined by the Kew Asylum to be a woman, and ‘promptly handed over to female nurses’ and sent back in Bendigo.[1] Evans later recalled:
“The fellers there took hold o’ me to give me a bath, an’ they stripped me to put me in the water, an’ then they saw the mistake. One feller ran off as if he was frightened; the others looked thunderstruck an’ couldn’t speak. I was handed over to the women, and they dressed me up in frocks and petticoats.”[16]
While still a patient at Bendigo, Evans said he knew who the father of his child was, made a reference to his wife not being ‘true’, and mentioned concerns about financial difficulties and possibly losing the house he had built, before adding, ‘Everything coming together was enough to drive a man mad.'[3] Marquand also spoke to the press and insisted she had never known Evans was not a man.[4]
It wasn’t only the newspapers that covered the ‘curious incident’; Stawell photographer Aaron Flegeltaub began selling copies of the formal portrait Marquand and Evans had taken in the early 1870s, while Sandhurst photographer N. White managed to gain access to the Bendigo Hospital and took a number of head-shots of Evans wearing a ‘white hospital nightshirt (or straight-jacket)’ and looking ‘wild eyed and probably affronted by the intrusion’ which were used to create an image he also sold.[1] The hospital refused requests from ‘entrepreneurs’ for Evans be ‘publicly exhibited’.[1]
‘Another intrusion’ was a gynaecological examination conducted by a Dr Penfold, which caused Evans to ‘cry and scream’ when the speculum was used, and resulted in a finding that he was ‘physiologically female’ and ‘had carried and borne a child’.[1] Evans later said the ‘examination had injured’ him.[3]
On 10 October 1879, the Bendigo Hospital declined a request by the Kew Asylum to return Evans as he ‘was improving daily, and will soon be in a fit state to be discharged’.[17] By December, Evans was declared ‘cured’ and released,[11] but, a few days later, dressed in female clothes, he was ‘still mentally distressed’ when he gave evidence in support of Marquand’s unsuccessful suit against Loridan.[1][18]


 Later life and legacy 

In late December 1879, Evans was part of events by ‘panorama showmen’ Augustus Baker Pierce and William Bignell in Geelong and Stawell and newspapers noted that ‘neither mind nor body possesses the vigour once so noticeable’.[1] This was followed, in 1880, by appearances in Melbourne billed as ‘The Wonderful Male Impersonator’ as part of the ‘living wonders’ at the Waxworks,[19] while Sydney shows were accompanied by pamphlets about ‘The Man-Woman Mystery’.[3]
By February 1881, Evans had applied for admittance to a Benevolent Asylum and he was sent to the Melbourne Immigrants’ Home in St Kilda Road.[1] He remained there until his death, twenty years later, on 25 August 1901.[20]
In 1897, Joseph Furphy, who, from the late 1860s, lived near Bendigo, published his first novel Such Is Life and included the comparison to Evans with the mention; ‘one of those De Lacy Evanses we often read of in novels’.[1]
In 2006, sites associated with Evans were included in the history walk presented as part of Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival.[21]


  1. Colligan, Mimi (Autumn 2002). “The Mysterious Edward/Ellen De Lacy Evans: The Picaresque in Real Life”. The La Trobe Journal (69). Retrieved 2013-10-03.
  2. Lucy Sarah Chesser (2008). Parting with My Sex: Cross-dressing, Inversion and Sexuality in Australian Cultural Life. Sydney University Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-920898-31-1. 
  3. Unknown (1880). The History and confession of Ellen Tremaye, alias, De Lacy Evans, the man-woman. Melbourne: Wm. Marshall. p. 27. Retrieved 2013-10-03.
  4. “INTERVIEW WITH MRS. EVANS.”. Bendigo Advertiser (Vic.: National Library of Australia). 4 September 1879. p. 2. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  5. “THE SANDHURST IMPERSONATOR— EDWARD DE LACY EVANS.”. Illustrated Australian News (Melbourne: National Library of Australia). 1 October 1879. p. 155. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  6. “EXTRAORDINARY CASE OF CONCEALMENT OF SEX.”. Bendigo Advertiser (Vic.: National Library of Australia). 4 September 1879. p. 2. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  7. “FURTHER PARTICULARS.”. Bendigo Advertiser (Vic.: National Library of Australia). 5 September 1879. p. 1 Supplement: Supplement to The Bendigo Advertiser. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  8. “Ellen Tremaye, alias Edward De Lacy Evans, the Female Impersonator.”. Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW: National Library of Australia). 11 October 1879. p. 32. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  9. “Ellen Tremaye, alias Edward De Lacy Evans, the Female Impersonator.”. Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW: National Library of Australia). 11 October 1879. p. 32. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  10. Lucy Sarah Chesser (2008). Parting with My Sex: Cross-dressing, Inversion and Sexuality in Australian Cultural Life. Sydney University Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-920898-31-1.
  11. Lucy Sarah Chesser (2008). Parting with My Sex: Cross-dressing, Inversion and Sexuality in Australian Cultural Life. Sydney University Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-920898-31-1.
  12. Lucy Sarah Chesser (2008). Parting with My Sex: Cross-dressing, Inversion and Sexuality in Australian Cultural Life. Sydney University Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-920898-31-1.
  13. “The Female Impersonator.”. The Northern Territory Times and Gazette (National Library of Australia). 15 November 1879. p. 2. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  14.  “CROSS PURPOSES.”. Bendigo Advertiser (Vic.: National Library of Australia). 23 July 1879. p. 2. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  15. “Victoria.”. The Evening News (Sydney: National Library of Australia). 3 September 1879. p. 2. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  16. Pryor, Lisa (2012-08-04). “Born as a girl”. Daily Life (Fairfax). Retrieved 2013-10-03.
  17. “SANDHURST.”. The Argus (Melbourne: National Library of Australia). 10 October 1879. p. 3. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  18. “Victoria.”. The Evening News (Sydney: National Library of Australia). 6 December 1879. p. 5. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  19. “DEATH OF DE LACY EVANS.”. The Argus (Melbourne: National Library of Australia). 27 August 1901. p. 5. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  20. “MAN IMPERSONATORS.”. Queanbeyan Age (Queanbeyan, NSW: National Library of Australia). 23 November 1906. p. 4. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  21. Hunter, Tim (2006-01-26). “The queer streets of Bearbrass”. The Age. Retrieved 2013-10-03.

External links

  • Pamphlet sold at Sydney ‘shows’: The History and confession of Ellen Tremaye, alias, De Lacy Evans, the man-woman (1880)





















Daily Mail Australia – 14 August 2014

By Louise Cheer for Daily Mail Australia

Was this Irish maid Australia’s first transgender person? Ellen Tremayne was leading a double life as Edward De Lacy Evans in 19th century Victoria

  1. For about 20 years of his life, Edward De Lacy Evans lived as a man
  2. He was born in Ireland as Ellen Tremayne and died in 1901 in Melbourne
  3. Mr De Lacy Evans was married three times and was ‘father’ to one daughter
  4. He worked as a carter, miner, blacksmith and ploughman across Victoria

The story of Edward De Lacy Evans read like every other man’s in the 19th century – he was a labourer, husband and father.

But underneath the suit and tie was a body of a woman named Ellen Tremayne – also known as Ellen Tremaye – who could have been Australia’s first transgender person.

Mr De Lacy Evans arrived on Australian shores from Ireland in June 1856 as an assisted immigrant on-board the Ocean Monarch.

It is speculated he was born between 1829 to 1841 due to a discrepancy in shipping lists, and birth, marriage and death certificates.


De Lacy Evans who could be Australia’s first transgender person as a woman (left) and as a man (right) during his stint in Kew Asylum

A portrait of Edward De Lacy Evans in male and female attire. The image is probably a fake cut-and-paste produced by a photographer after it was discovered De Lacy Evans was a man

According to ship records, he was a 26-year-old Roman Catholic from Kilkenny who could read and write, and was listed as a housemaid.

When she arrived in Victoria, Mr De Lacy Evans was still known as Ellen Tremayne and caused quite a stir on the trip over.

According to the State Library of Victoria’s The La Trobe Journal, he wore a man’s shirt and trousers underneath his dress and had formed sexual attachments to some of the other female passengers on the Ocean Monarch, including his soon-to-be first wife, Mary Delahunty – a 34-year-old governess who was also from Ireland.

He travelled with a trunk labelled with the name ‘Edward De Lacy Evans’ on it who, according to De Lacy Evans’ third wife, was his uncle.

There was also speculation her husband or lover was named ‘Edward De Lacy Evans’ and he had somehow tricked the transsexual by placing his trunk on the Ocean Monarch and deserted the 26-year-old.

Mr De Lacy Evans’, who was still identified as a woman, first job in Australia was as a maidservant at a Melton public house but some time after he left his position and started dressing like a man, and ditched the name of Ellen Tremayne.


Mr De Lacy Evans continued living as a man for 25 years after he left Kew Asylum in 1879 (left) and the right picture is of him and his third wife, Julia Marquand

Now as Edmund De Lacy, he went and sought out Ms Delahunty, marrying her at St Francis’ Roman Catholic Church in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne.

But their marriage was not a happy one, with evidence suggesting they ‘did not live comfortably together’.

After Ms Delahunty opened a school in Blackwood, she left Mr De Lacy Evans and married an American mining surveyor Lyman Oatman Hart who lived in Daylesford – north-west of Melbourne.

In the next 20 years, Mr De Lacy Evans married twice – his second wife was Sarah Moore who died of pulmonary tuberculosis in 1867 and a Julia Marquand of Bendigo – north of Melbourne.

Mr De Lacy Evans worked as a carter, miner, blacksmith and ploughman in the areas of Blackwood, Bendigo and Stawell.

The breakdown of his third marriage came after March 1878 when Ms Marquand gave birth to a child fathered by her brother-in-law, Jean Baptiste Loridan.

Despite Mr De Lacy Evans knowing it was not his child, he registered himself as the child’s father but his resentment over the pregnancy started taking its toll on the marriage.

In July 1879, he started violently acting out against Ms Marquand and his 15-month-old daughter, fell into a deep depression and then was admitted to Bendigo Hospital’s lunacy ward for amentia – a mental disability.


Another portrait done of Mr De Lacy Evans done by Aaron Flegeltaub who was active between 1882-1891
For the first six weeks of his stint in the hospital, Mr De Lacy Evans refused to bathe until he was transferred to the Kew Asylum and forcibly stripped that his secret was discovered.

He was handed over to female nurses and forced to dress as a woman

In an interview, Mr De Lacy Evans’ recalled the moment he was outed as a female at Kew Asylum.

‘I was sittin’ the carriage at the railway station, an’ the wife was cryin’ and the kid was squealin’, an’ I was laughin’ at ‘em,’ he said during an interview.

‘Well, when we got to Kew, the fellers there took hold o’ me to give me a bath, an’ they stripped me to put me in the water, an’ then they saw the mistake. 

‘One feller ran off as if he was frightened; the others looked thunderstruck an’ couldn’t speak. 

‘I was handed over to the women, and they dressed me up in frocks and petticoats.’

Mr De Lacy Evans’ outing as a female caused a worldwide stir, with one photographer named Nicholas White sneaking into the hospital and taking photos of the transsexual dressed as a man and a woman as well as possibly a straitjacket.

As a transgender person, Mr De Lacy Evans’ faced brutal treatment inside the asylum including a report done up by The Australian Medical Journal that said he cried and screamed as he was probed during a gynaecological examination – which verified he was a physiologically a woman.

A drawing done of Mr De Lacy Evans entitled The Sandhurst impersonator working as a man at the Victorian goldfields

With the news in circulation, Mr De Lacy Evans received offers to be ‘publicly exhibited’ and after his release from Kew Asylum he took up the opportunities. He was once offered three to five pounds per week for a tour.

He appeared as ‘The Wonderful Male Impersonator’ at St Georges Hall on Bourke Street in Melbourne in January 1880 and another time alongside a trapeze artist and ‘The Electric Boy’ at Sydney’s Egyptian Hall on George Street in September 1880.

When the truth came out his wife, Ms Marquand denied knowing her husband was in fact a woman and accounted for her daughter’s existence by telling reporters: ‘Some strange man entered the house one night about the time her husband should have returned home’.

Ms Marquand also stated her husband would never let her see him stripped or washing himself.

Additionally, Mr De Lacy Evans could have fooled his wife into thinking he was a man by fashioning a homemade strap-on dildo.

There was also evidence Mr De Lacy Evans’ second wife, Sarah Moore, found out about her husband’s cross-dressing about a year into their marriage

A witness reported seeing Ms Moore punching Mr De Lacy Evans in the breast – her ‘weak place’.

Mr De Lacy Evans lived as a man for another 25 years and found no success in show business. 

In February 1881, he was applying for relief at the Melbourne Police Court and wanted to be admission to the Benevolent Asylum.

Mr De Lacy Evans died in August 1901 in the Melbourne Immigrants’ Home at St Kilda Road, where he had been since February 1881.

Read more:

The Mysterious Edward/Ellen De Lacy Evans: The Picaresque in Real Life – No 69 Autumn 2002 – La Trobe Journal

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From La Trobe Journal

No 69 Autumn 2002



What Exactly is a Great Grand Uncle…or a 1st Cousin, Twice Removed?

When genetic counselors attend family reunions, their unofficial job becomes Namer-of-Relationships. “Keith, you and I are first cousins once-removed. Viola is my great aunt. Margo, you are my mother’s second cousin’s second wife so you would be…..well, some kind of in-law or kissing cousin, I guess.” It gets confusing, even for experts. It is even more difficult for patients or referring providers who try to relate a family history of a second cousin with a cleft palate and a heart defect but who is actually a first cousin once-removed.
Below I have created a generic pedigree that illustrates the most common familial relationships in the kinship system of the modern Western English-speaking world. The pedigree undoubtedly contains errors and omissions. So, in the spirit of crowd sourcing, I encourage my fellow pedigree wonks to scrutinize it and report mistakes, mislabelings, missing relatives, and thoughtful commentary in the Comments section below (this would also be a great discussion topic for a few hours of a genetic counseling student seminar).
The accompanying explanatory table supplies details, controversies and inconsistencies. I am cowardly avoiding the complicated relationships that stem from assisted reproductive technologies such as donor eggs, donor sperm, surrogate mothers, etc. Of course, the person you decide to call Mother, Father, Uncle, Cousin, etc. is based not on genetic relationship but on personal experience, family preferences, and social norms.

For those not familiar with pedigree arcana, each individual is identified with a numbering scheme such that relatives in the first generation (at the top of the pedigree) are identified with a Roman numeral (e.g., I) and an Arabic numeral (e.g., 2). This indicates, reading from left to right, that I-2 is the second person on the first line of the pedigree. The next generation down is numbered II, and so on. Thus, IV-7 is the seventh person in the fourth generation and who is the the proband or propositus, the reference point for the relationships. IV-7’s father is III-3, IV-7’s paternal great grandfathers are I-2 and I-4, and so on.
There seems to be no widely accepted guidelines for when to include hyphens in a relationship name (e.g., great-grandfather vs. great grandfather). Since this is my blog post, I get to decide the grammatical rules. Thus, because I tend to be a minimalist, I hyphenate only when there is more than one “great” in a title. In the pedigree, I-1 is a great-great-uncle, but I-2 is a great grandfather. I also use hyphens in “removed” relationships (e.g., first cousin once-removed) because, well, it just looks right. Stepmother seems to be more common than either step mother or step-mother. However, “stepbrother” is infrequent. For consistency, I recommend the spaced-but-not-hyphenated style for “step” and “half” descriptors” (e.g., half brother, step mother).
An alternative graphic to describe family relationships is the Canon Law Relationship Chart.
Image from Wikipedia Commons, under the GNU Free Documentation License.
The relationships illustrated in the pedigree are described as follows:
Self, You, (AKA Proband, Propositus): IV-7, the person who is the reference point for all relationships in the pedigree.
Genetic Father: III-3
Genetic Mother: III-4
Step Parent: III-5, the new or former spouse of your genetic mother or father.
Full Brother: IV-8. Male siblings with whom you share both genetic parents.
Full Sister: IV-9. Female siblings with whom you share both genetic parents.
Half Sibling: IV-10. A sibling with whom you share only one genetic parent. Or, as one of my patients said to me the other day “She is my half of a sister.”
Step Sibling: IV-11. A sibling with whom you share no genetic parents, e.g., the son your stepfather had with his previous wife.
Son: V-2. A male child.
Daughter: V-3. A female child.
Step Child: V-1. The son or daughter that your spouse had with a previous spouse.
Grandson, Granddaughter: VI-1. Your child’s son and daughter, respectively.
Great Grandson, Great Granddaughter: VII-1. The son and daughter, respectively, of your grandson or your granddaughter.
Grandfather: II-3, II-5. The father of your mother or father. But note the inconsistent use of grand and great. The brother and sister of your grandfather is your great uncle and great aunt (vide infra, Great Uncle, Grand Nephew). Presumably the word stems from the French grand-père, which itself goes back to the 12th century. Prior to the French influence, a grandfather was referred to as a grandsire, and prior to that, in Old English, the Germanic-derived ealdefæder or eldfader.
Great Grandfather: I-2, I-4, I-6, I-8. The father of your grandparent.
Grandmother: II-4, II-6. The mother of your mother or your father.
Great Grandmother: I-3, I-5, I-7, I-9. The mother of your grandparent.
Uncles, Aunts
Uncle: III-2, III-8. A brother of one of your parents
Aunt: III-1, III-9. A sister of one of your parents
Great Uncle: II-2, II-7. A brother of one of your 4 grandparents. I thought about recommending the less commonly used title Grand Uncle (or Grand Aunt) because these individuals are in the same generation as your grandparents. When they are referred to as Great relatives, it seems to imply that they are in the generation prior to your grandparents’ generation. I suspect, though, that Great is so well established that it is unlikely to replaced by Grand. And you share more genetic information with your Grandparents than you do with your Great Uncles, so perhaps using Great rather than Grand is an acknowledgment of that genetic difference (vide supra, Grandfather; vide infra, Grand Nephew vs. Great Nephew).
Great Aunt: II-1, II-8. A sister of one of your 4 grandparents
Great-Great Uncle: I-1. A brother of one of your 8 great grandparents. Note the slightly confusing terminology – the siblings of your great grandparents have two “greats” in their relationship title, compared to only one “great” in their sibling, your great grandparent.
Great-Great Aunt: I-10. A sister of one of your 8 great grandparents.
Nephew, Nieces
Nephew, Niece: V-4, V-6, V-5, V-7. The son and daughter, respectively, of your sibling.
Great Nephew (Grand Nephew), Great Niece (Grand Niece): VI-2, VI-3. The son and daughter, respectively, of your nephew or niece. In genealogy circles, it is more common to use Grand rather than Great, on the basis that this relative is as many generations removed from you as your grandparent is, only in the other direction. However, in my view, if the siblings of your grandparents are Great Uncles and Great Aunts, then it seems to me that there is greater symmetry in calling them Great Nephew rather than Grand Nephew. Besides, you share as much genetic information with your Great Nephew as you do with your Great Aunt, so from that standpoint it makes more sense to go with Great rather than Grand (vide supra, Great Uncle, Grandfather.
First Cousin: IV-1, IV-2, IV-3, IV-4, IV-12, IV-13, IV-14, IV-15. The children of your aunts and uncles.
Second Cousin: IV-16. The children of your parents’ first cousins.
First Cousin Once-Removed : V-8, III-10. The children of your first cousins OR the parents of your second cousin (who could also be properly called your second cousins once-removed). Once-removed refers to the fact that the relative is one generation removed from you, either one generation above or one generation below. The children of your second cousins could also be called your second cousins once-removed. This is one of the confusing areas where different relatives can have the same title and the same title could be applied to different relatives.
First Cousin Twice–Removed: VI-4. The grandchildren of your first cousins.
Unnamed Relationships:

IV-5, III-6, III-7. As far as I am aware, in Western European kinship systems, there is no title for your spouse’s previous spouse IV-5), your step parent’s previous spouse (III-6), or the previous spouse of your step parent’s previous spouse (III-7).

Questioning the “genetic counselor” professional title



Daily (Or When The Mood Takes Me) Gripe: The Quiet Desperation of Getting Older…and Being Gay!

Recently, anothe member of a group I am a member of posted that, at 45 and again single, he felt that it was now so hard to meet people that he feared he was destined to never have a serious, long-term relationship again. At 60, a short two years ago, I was at the end of a 16-year relationship – monogamous on my part, polygamous on his – and churned back to my single status. I had thought -naively – that this would be the relationship that I would grow old(er) in, that may finally give me the security of home-ownership, of stability, and a sense of contentment. Being cast adrift into the sea of old age – at least as far as the gay community is concerned – has given ne cause to consider this situation exactly as that much younger man has…that I will probably never have a relationship again. It is a scary prospect, though in the gay world, not unique to me.

The one thing technology has not given us is the tools to meet people. The whole online/app approaches to dating or even attempting to meet others with views to friendships or relationships is just not happening for many of us. In a past time – not all that long ago, mind you – meeting people was as easy as planning a night out to your local pub or bar. Going out to your “local” gave you an impressive number of alternatives for how, planned or unplanned, your night could pan out. You could ring friends and arrange to meet them; go out on your own and choose to be solitary; just turn up, knowing there was a good chance of meeting people you know. Having progressed this far, the middle and end of the night also offered many alternatives, all in the atmosphere of the bar, or in the convivial company of friends. You could get pissed, go home and pass out. Or you could peruse the bar, decide the pickings were slim and go home alone. You could make plans with your friends to move on, or decide that the guy you are playing eye games with could be a bit of fun, and so you stay, buy him a drink, sit down and have a chat, and if the vibe is right, decide where to take it from there! However it did – or didn’t – turn out you, still had a set of alternatives all based around a real place, with flesh and blood people. There was potential for scenarios to happen, and you had control over them. But this us a bygone world! You didn’t have to lie about your age, or your body type, or your sexual preferences…it was there for everyone to see!

Unless you want sex and nothing else but sex, the world of online gay dating abd apps is an alien one, full of lies, deception and fakery. I spent 12-months – unsuccessfully – on them! It has left me disillusioned, feeling belittled and degraded,  and with an eerie sense of futility. It is a shallow, dishones, ageist, prejudicial, and stigmatising world! To enter this world at 60, subtract 10-15 years from your ago, drop – or lie about –  around 15-20 kgs of weight, tell everyone you are versatile, add a few centimetres to the length of your cock, lie about uour HIV status, don’t admit to any disabilities, and upload a profile photo that is a few years old. I’m not kidding! You need to invent-a-person…but it doesn’t really matter, as you are unlikely to mert anyone for a date, and anyone you invite over for sex isn’t going to be there long enough to evaluate. I subscribed to Grindr, Gaydar, Scruff, Squirt, Man Hunt, BBRT, and a HIV+ apps or sites. At the beginning of last year, I either deleted or stopped using them altogether. The list of my encounters from these “dating” services is brief, and tragic.

  • Gaydar – Michael. A guy I just messaged out-of-the-blue because I liked his profile. We messaged each other for a while, then arranged for him to come over for dinner one night. We hit it off really well, had a great night, and decided to meet again. He “forgot” about our second meeting. Messages got more and more abrupt, and I took the hint. I still don’t know what happened. Lecko – a Russian boy. Yes, I do know what it was all about, but I wanted the experience of seeing where it went. I called it off, but I did let him know that I realised where it was heading. Some guy who kept conracting me, and telling me that taw sex needed discussion, despite me messaging him back a number of times to tell him it wasn’t open to discussion. Yes, I do negotiate raw sex – I’m a mature adult, and hopefully dealing with same. I have done so since the 80s.
  • BBRTS – Phil. Phil liked playing hard-to-get. I wore him down, and we finally met up at my home, in the company of mutual friends. Phil had evidently worked for Bretts Boys back in the 80s. We liked the look of each other (he was 55, and like me, lied about his age on dating sites). However, he was either damaged, or screwed up. He liked the tease, but that was as far as it went. Turns out he had his 80yo parents flating with him, who actually dictated what time he should get home. I know…very sad! Once again, messages got vety abrupt and I eventually gave up. Not even a head job there! Also the site for my one and only encounter with blow ‘n go sex – the coldest, most unfulfilling sexual encounter of my life. Just leaves you feeling empty and used. Daniel. Nice guy, but a bit too hairy, and a bit too overweight for my taste…though good sex. We arranged to meet again, but then with my eye operations, and a potential return to Sydney, it never happened. Out of a sense of politeness, I messaged him that I was returning to Sydney. He couldn’t remember who I was! Nice! Oliver. Just messaged me out of the blue one night and asked if he could visit. He turned up shortly after…good looking, very tall, and stating that he was waiting for a message from a friend he was about to visit in Logan. I really couldn’t work out what he was about. He got his message, and left. 2 glasses of wine wasted.
  • Grndr – nothing but wank chat – something I’m (evidently) good at, judging from the number of return requests. Probably due to me having a vivid imagination, and taking them on a sexual journey. Good for them – you always knew when they had blown, as chat suddenly stopped – but not for me.
  • Scruff – see above, but really massively overweight, overly hairy American guys. The ultimate turn-off for me, and I ignored return requests. 

So, that was the sum total of my online sex life. Sending winks, woofs or anything else to other guys resulted in either being ignored, or a nice thanks-but-no-thanks. The only people who consistently contacted me were Asians and Indians, despite my profile stating I was only interested in Caucasian guys. The whole sordid affair was unpleasant, and I just breathed a sigh of relief when I gave it all away. I have since subscribed to Elite Dating Services, and Disabled Dating, but as soon as they start hassling me to subscribe – at between $25-$40 a month, I just dropped it. I’m setiously not thst desperate!

So, I am reconciled to the ageist, body fascism of the gay community. I am very fit for a 62yo, but my days of six-packs and bulging muscles are long gone. And I really don’t need to impress people that way anymore. 

Oh, don’t get me wrong! I think I have a lot to offer a guy. I’m past the shallow stage of my life, and I know who I am, and what I want. I’m not dog ugly, have a full head of hair – a plus at my age, I’m still slim, and when I have the opportunity to work out, quite fit looking. I eat a healthy diet, I have a university degree (and several others), a great sense of humour, intelligent (I can hold a conversation), articulate. I’m a great cook, love entertaining, love eating out, and know a good bottle of wine. I dress well – fashionably, but not to extremes – and groom well. I’m houseproud, and collect glass and Asian teawares…all controlled collections. I love technology, have a modernist view to social issues, not bogged down in tradition, and still get the urge to throw an Ecstacy down my throat (or some acid, if I could get my hands on it) and let my hair down on a dance floor in a nightclub – though I’d rather be leaving at 1am than arriving!

So, I have it all to offer. The oroblem is, the only people I have to offer it to are friends and acquaintances! That is not going to get me anywhere, and there is no longer any other alternative. With the disassembly of the gay ghetto, there is really nowhere I can go to meet anyone. Oh yeah, I could go to places like The Bank, or Coopers…but I’d be in with a younger, and baducally straight, group. It is a true contradiction that the very community I belong to, and with a reputation for acceptance, intergeation and tolerance is, in fact, the fery community that alienates those who reach an age whereby they no longer fulfil the perceptions of youth. The straight community seems to be better placed as far as dating services go, and though sex is there, is not the defining end to getting to meet someone. Likewise, their gars are far more inclusive, and orientated to having a good time, and potentially going able to meet someone. For me to sit on my own in a gay gar these days – if I could find one I felt comfortable in – is to be ignored. 

So, like many others, I’m reconciled to a life of quiet desperation. As I joked with a friend recently, I’m glad my hand is a good kisser! Short of meeting someone by sheer coincidence, it’s the single life from hereon in. Not something I am going to relish. If there us light at the end of the tunnel, it is not as yet visible to me. Though I have made the conscious decision to not let it bother me, in the recesses of my mind the doubt lingers. 

In the words of Mae West “Save a boyfriend for a rainy day – and another in case ut doesn’t rain”

Tim Alderman (C) 2016