Category Archives: History

Gay History: The G.O.D. (Girls/Guys Of Disgrace) Gang.

There appears to be nothing on the internet about the G.O.D Girlgang, not even within the profiles and written accounts of its founders. This makes this article about the gang, solely from my own archived resources, an essential inclusion into the gay history of Sydney. That any groups can come and go, and be undocumented in any wa concerns me, as gangs such as G.O.D were integral in the relationships between gay men and lesbians in the late 1989s, early 1990s period, as well as highlighting a movement within the lesbian community, a move away from PC dogmatic women, to a more open, diverse and inclusionist community. Despite its brief existence, it was a watershed moment in mixed relations between the two distinct sectors of the community.

“GANG

noun

a group of people who associate together or act as an organized body, esp for criminal or illegal purposes”

From left: Jade Moon Kemeny, Unknown, Francine Laybutt, Lisa Salmon
“Girls of Disgrace, Girls of Dishonour, Girls of Desire; G.O.D. Is limited only to your steamy imagination.

G.O.D. is on a mission to spread the concept of Girlgangs, and its subsequent feelings of power through identification/unification. G.O.D. is not meant to be taken too seriously.

IN SEVEN DAYS following the creation of a name, a patch design is produced depicting  a sword with a snake wound about its length. Living on the cutting edge? (Now, don’t take us too seriously).

A group of army green jackets adorned with a variety of badges, bolts, skins, and other sundry odds and ends.

G.O.D. patches grab each shoulder in splashes of red and grey. Underneath, the optional shirt harbours similar coloured emblems.

COMPRISES OF Desert Rangers, the Kiss and Make-up contingent, SM girlies, Vanilla Sluts, hard-core uniform-ists and lingerie fetishists. (But don’t take us too seriously).

ATTITUDE while in walk thirteen G.O.D. members. Watch the heads turn. Will we stop at the number fit for a witches coven?

G.O.D. is not separatist,. Guys of Disgrace have recently gained admittance complete with blue patches and leather.

AND FUN with future G.O.D. sex/bondsge/SM/porn/initiation/dance/parties a possibility? Why not!”

Such was the blurb from “Wicked Women” magazine for the first outing of G.O.D. in the mrdia. Girls/Guys of Disgrace was founded by Francine (Jasper) Laybutt, Lisa Salmon & Jade Moon Kemeny around 1989/90. Francine was a radical lesbian in every sense of the word. She walked the outer limits of the lesbian world, prmoting the more butch forms of sexuality, the darker world of BD/SM. She was the founder of “Wicked Women” magazine, and used it as a platform to promote her more radical attitudes to lesbiansm. Often shunned by her own community, and  with her partner Lisa Salmon, often derided and humiliated for holding beliefs and practises contrary to what was considered the norm in that world. 

That she founded G.O.D shiuld notbe  surprising in the face of her views on confrontstion, public outrageousness, yet inclusiveness. She advocated non-penetrative sex with gay men (slantrd more towards the gay leather, BD/SM community), and after her sex reassignment surgery and becoming Jasper Laybutt, she referred to herself not just as a female-to-male teansgender, but as a male lesbian…language that would have sent most mainstream lesbians into a tail spin! 

From left: Lisa Salmon, Tim Alderman, Francine Laybutt at the opening party for “Expectations” fetish store, 2nd floor, 159 Oxford St, Darlinghurst in 1989. Tim was the store manager.
In William Calder’s book “Gay Print Media’s Golden Era: Australuan Magazines and Newspapers 1070-2000” he notes:

Inspired by the American lesbian sex fetish magazine On Our Backs – its title a deliberate riposte to the feminist magazine Off Our Backs – Francine Laybutt and Lisa Salmon published Wicked Women in Sydney at the start of 1988 to fill, as they put it, the “gaping hole” in women’s erotica, and promised “a forum for erotic ideas and … hot, one-handed reading”.(138) They aimed to bring into the open lesbian sexual practices such as sadomasochism for those who silently fantasised about such activities and let their readers see there were other similarly minded women they might meet. From the start, the magazine triggered debate within the lesbian community, and Laybutt says they were “surprised and unprepared for the degree of hostility” directed against them.(139) Sadomasochism, bondage, and even dildos were seen at the time “by the lesbian feminist paradigm … as violent patriarchal constructs”.(140) The pair would get thrown out of dyke clubs for wearing fetish gear and Salmon “who didn’t usually wear much at all would have drinks thrown on her … cigarettes surreptitiously put out on her [and] spat on sometimes”.(141)

Born at the start of the 1960s,(142) Laybutt grew up in the city of Newcastle and watched drag shows at the town’s one gay pub, but soon moved to Sydney where the gay scene was bigger.(143) She worked as an art teacher but “didn’t like teaching unruly teenagers”, and switched to computer design work with a North Shore communications company. Laybutt found her “true vocation” as Dominatrix Natasha in the sex industry,(144) and shared a flat with fellow former Catholic school girl Lisa Salmon,(145) who in her early 20s worked as a performance artist and stripper.(146) The pair started a relationship and decided it would be as a “fetish couple”.(147)

The first issue of Wicked Women was a 28 page A4 black and white with a pictorial cover selling for $4. It included poetry, personal classifieds and features exploring lesbian sexual fetish in an attempt to broaden individual lesbians’ definition of their lifestyle. To produce Wicked Women they bought an old electric typewriter that ironically would not print the letter ‘w’, so they “had to manually push the letter against the page” and the pair wrote most of the articles “under a variety of pseudonyms to make it appear as though they had lots of contributors”.(148) Laybutt’s “very open-minded” boss let them use the work photocopier on the weekend to print 90 copies of the first issue. Subsequent issues grew in size and cover price, peaking at 60 pages for $8, with up to 1000 copies printed.(149) The aim was six issues a year, though usually fewer were published. The magazine that Laybutt and Salmon created “reflected” the sadomasochistic sexual activity they were doing,(150) and they hoped it would let them meet other women “sharing the same experience”.(151) Salmon says “the seventies feminist thing just ended up being girls telling each other what to do. It became really dogmatic and it took the fun out of sexuality and being a dyke”.(152) Commentator Julie Catt says Wicked Women triggered a “lesbian sexual revolution”,(153) and others say it added “many new words to the lesbian sexual vocabulary – sadomasochism, fetishism, gender fuck – to name but a few”.(154) Wicked Women ran stories about a woman who was “horny for weeks, and masturbated ferociously”,(155) one from a woman who described how she was “blindfolded and placed in standing bondage [while f]ingers pinch my skin, pull at my hairs, slap my behind, teasing”,(156) and the dominatrix who wrote how her submissive “moaned, groaned, pleaded, yelled, screamed [and] begged me to stop but the juice was flowing freely down her inner thighs. Her cunt was writhing in frustration [wanting] me to fuck her to the point of exhaustion”.(157)

The first cover had the words: “Erotica Poetry Graphics SM Classifieds Decadence” above a graphic of a naked woman with a dog collar around her neck. Photographs of usually one or two women models soon replaced graphics on the cover. The magazine though was not simply pornography for lesbians. It explored sexual themes and often used playful images. There was a blurred photo of a naked cropped hair woman wearing a dog collar and seated cross-legged on bed,(158) a photo of a sultry woman in full leather jacket and cap looking piercingly into the camera,(159) and a party girl staring at the camera while pulling open her jacket to expose her breasts.(160) Inside were photo-spreads of women in leather or at sexual fetish events, and in one issue a photo-essay of open vaginas being fist-fucked.(161)

Quite apart from the publisher’s open promotion of sadomasochism there were a series of publishing events that triggered condemnation. In an early edition Linda Dement’s photograph of a woman holding a skinned rabbit against her vagina caused an uproar,(162) and the magazine was subsequently banned from at least one Melbourne feminist bookstore. Laybutt defends the photograph as “art … a strong image, but not an anti-woman one. It was widely misunderstood”.(163) A year later the inclusion of a gay male pedophile group press release,(164) led to “a ‘girlcott’ … sold very badly and lost some readership”,(165) followed the next issue when “all hell broke loose”,(166) after publishing an article written by a self-confessed “misogynist” gay leather man.(167) The final major controversy to confront the publishers of Wicked Women was Laybutt undergoing medical procedures to become a transman. “I was a tomboy” growing up, he says,(168) and in 1991 adopted the name Jasper, instead of Francine.(169)

Supporters of Wicked Women wrote letters to say “it’s wonderful to know there are other dykes out there into ‘unsound’ sex and games”.(170) Another said it was “important that women have a space where they can be upfront and honest about who they are and what they like”,(171) and one declared “I now, most times when going out to nightclubs and such, dress in leather”.(172) Some feminists engaged directly with the sexual desire implicit in Wicked Women’s content. One supported “expressions of lesbian sexuality which are exciting, dangerous and diverse” yet maintained the utopian goals of lesbian feminism “to rethink the relationship already in play between the phallus/cock/gun and power” concluding: “we wait with quivering clits for the day a woman submits her fiction in a non-male constructed language”.(173) With time this occurred as Laybutt and Salmon invited contributions from readers who submitted articles other than ones with sadomasochistic themes but “often vanilla or romantic sex flavoured and relatively sexually ‘safe’” articles.(174)

Less obvious than its challenge to existing ideas around lesbian sexual practices, was the role Wicked Women played in building lesbian community. Its classified personals included the expected: “23 Year Old into leather, looking for experienced S/M dyke to worship”,(175) but were also used by a range of lesbians to seek partners, such as “slim 22 yr old, strawberry blonde, desperately searching for my dark earth mother”. The magazine ran contact details for local lesbian social groups, and advertisements for Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Wicked Women organised what became a popular annual event, the Ms Wicked competition “in which lesbians stripped and performed sexual acts for enthusiastic all-female audiences”.(176) More than 500 attended a Melbourne heat in 1991.(177) Wicked Women organised a Mardi Gras dance party Be Wicked that was raided in the early hours by police with the patrons “herded out”,(178) and Girl Beat at the gay male sex-on-site venue The Den.(179)

The magazine’s editor from 1994, Kimberly O’Sullivan said the “events proved to be enormously popular and [mainstream lesbians] saw we had a role in the lesbian community. It demystified us for them”.(180) The activities of Wicked Women’s publishers also helped draw together the lesbian and gay male communities that in the 1980s lived largely separately from each other. Laybutt had always found the gay male scene “infinitely more interesting” to explore.(181) She was a member of two gay male motorcycle clubs, and even attended male only fetish events, passing as a young guy. Early support for the magazine came largely from the gay male community and the emergence of Wicked Women provided a vehicle to “bridge the gap” at least between the gay male and lesbian fetish communities.(182) In 1993 Wicked Women organised a Mr Wicked competition.

The controversial nature of Wicked Women attracted attention but its generally uncompromising stance on content alienated both potential buyers and advertisers and caused significant problems for the venture as a business. While the primary aim was to present sex radical ideas, the bills still needed to be paid and its 1993 editor, Kimberly O’Sullivan said they started “to think more seriously about the risks [of accepting] an article which will alienate half of your readership”.(183) There were difficulties from their first Catholic owned commercial printer who dumped them after they ran a photograph of a women stroking her vagina with a statue of the Virgin Mary.(184) Lesbian hotels initially refused to stock the magazine,(185) and the women’s bookshops that did stock it “kept the magazine hidden under Lesbian Network so no- one ever saw it”.(186) At first only gay male leather, and sex shops stocked Wicked Women and it was distributed by subscription to mainly Sydney women, though also to other areas around the country and overseas, and some men.(187) The only advertising support the magazine attracted initially was from leather fetish and sex product shops run by gay men as “lesbian businesses … would not touch them”.(188) Each ‘girlcott’ and refusal to display the magazine reduced sales and increased reliance on organising fund-raising events.(189)

Apart from publishing Wicked Women, Laybutt in 1990 was involved in editing the mixed gay and lesbian alternative journal of arts, culture and sexuality, Hell Bent, and in 1991 Pink Ink: An anthology of Australian lesbian and gay writers. By 1994, both Laybutt and Salmon had stepped back from the front line of editing, handing responsibility to O’Sullivan, who later described her job as “administrator, book- keeper, accountant, publicity officer, advertising manager and delivery driver – in short, doing every single thing on the magazine from beginning to end”. Two years later she resigned due to the work pressure that came on top of the need to work a second full-time paid job, bemoaning that she “had almost no social life (and felt) burnt out”.(190) When Salmon stopped organising fund-raising events the magazine became financially unsustainable. O’Sullivan was not replaced as editor with Laybutt declaring “I feel that having become a man, I’ve moved on to different things” and Wicked Women ceased publication in 1996 after 28 issues.(191)  Laybutt returned to live in Newcastle and became involved in publishing New Age ideas.(192)

The publishers of Wicked Women successfully appealed to the sexually libertarian section of the lesbian community, and in doing so challenged established feminist attitudes towards sexuality. They found a market niche and expanded, creating new social infrastructure and profoundly changed broader lesbian community attitudes towards sexuality. Ultimately though the publishing venture failed to become financially self-sustaining and closed when individual publisher energies waned.” 

It is against this background, and in the midst of, that the G.O.D Gang was formed. Amongst my recollections are attending a patty in the vicinity of Zetland, held in a warehouse, and consisting primary of G.O.D & Dolphin Motor Club members. I was one of the DJ’s (who had to deal with a DJ rig suspended from the ceiling on chains, and would often swing out from the mezzanine area it was set up in – and you had to make sure you didn’t follow it). During one of my sets, I watched as Francine (she had not undergone sex reassignment surgery at this stage) opened a door in the floor of the warehouse that obviously led down to a basement area. She went down the stairs, and was followed by half-a-dozen of the male members. I have no accounts of what went on down there, but considering Francine’s stand on gender-fuck issues, and the liberality of many males in the leather scene, I dare say it would have been quite eye-ooening. In the above excerpt from the book, there is a nod to me as the manager of “Numvers” Bookstore, being one of the gay managers and businesses that advertised in, sold, and supported Wicked Women, and their events. This also indicates the divisions not just within the gay community at that time – the separist nature of gay men & lesbians, but also the divisions within the lesbian community, the strict dogmatic approach they had to women who marched “outside the square”. The same cliques existed within the gay male community – leathermen, bears, twinks, vanilla, BD/SM, clones etc – but this did not prevent guys crossing over into several cliques, and when required, they all socialised together. This possibly explains Francine’s attraction to the gay male community, along with the support it offered her, and her ventures. In many respects, G.O.D became a catalyst for a change in relationships between gay men & lesbians – well, at leadt those that wrre liberal minded, and not pushing agenda’s.  

The two following accounts are important for several reasons – there is – sermingly –  no information on the G.O.D Gang on the internet; the “So Help Me G.O.D” piece has a run-down of resolutions reached in the first group event, giving sn indication of how and why the gang was created, its structure, purposes and intentions. It also shiws how the gang started to grt its name out there through its involvement in some of the more “out there” events that were happening, and through integration with groups like the Dolphin Motor Club, The Griffins Motorcyle Club, and Dykes On Bikes.

Entry criteria for the Ms Wicked Competition circa 1989/90

 From the Dolphin Motor Clubs newsletter “Quid Nunc”, Volume 1, Issue IV. 1990. Both articles are from the same issue.

“So Help Me G.O.D.”

“In the geginning there were Three. And behold, the Three looked down on us and said ‘We heed a Girlgang.’ And so it was done, and a Girlfang was formed. AndGOD gave unto its members a symbol if their unity: a red patch, thereon emblazoned a serpent encircling a sword. Then GOD looked down on us once again, and said ‘There is disunity in our community,’ and they took a thresd from the red patch, colour changed it, and came forth with a blue patch. Thus were guys brought into the unity of GOD. And the Three looked down, and said ‘Thus us good,’ and behold, it was very good.”

G.O.D. (Guys/Girls of Disgrace/Dishonour/Degradation/Discipline/Denigration…intrrpret it as you will) is  group of girls and guts who fall into the classification of a gang. Despite the connotation of the word ‘gang’ meaning a groupmof louts, storm-trooping all iver town , fighting, jaiming, and causing general discord, the word ‘gang’ actually refers to a group of people, loosely based with no constitution or club rules to bind them. There us no official hierarchy, and no regular meetings as such. Members basically have a common interest (most GOD members are into leather sex in all or sundry of its variations) and vasically get together just for a good time. A meeting could be said to be happening when two or more get together for a drink and a chat.

The Dolphin’s three Special Memgers: Francine, Jade & Lisa, are not onlybGOD girls, but founders of the group. Paul Costello, Geoff Arnold, and Tim Alderman are also members of GOD, and Les Heathfield is an HonoraryvMember. GOD girls are all invited to Dolphin events, and in return all Dolphin members are invited to all GOD, and Wicked Women events, apart from thise deemed girls only. It is hoped that in the future, GOD and the Dolphins can get together to hold functions, or jointly sponsor functions. Membership currently stands at 22 girls, and 8 guys. The patches are red for the girls, and blue for the guys, and feature a snake entwined an upward pointing sword. Thus with the initials of our name, the symbolism can ge interpreted any way uou want.

The recently GOD sponsored event for the Ms Wicked Competition was a tremendous night, with Tim Alderman from DMC one of the 5 judges for the event. The more recent Slave/Master/Mistress celebrity auction (see write-up this issue) just goes to show what girls and guys working together can really do. Our first official gang merting was held in our Clubroom in Ultimo on Wednesday 30th May. About 25 members were present, plus about 5 visitors, including 2 women connected to the Mardi Gras committee, and a number of resolutions were passed by gang memgers.

*We are now closing ranks. Whereas before this night it was possible to become a gang member by the purchase of patches, membership is now only possible by a written submission, the applicant then having to come before a panelmof selectors to have their suitability as a gang member judged.

* The panel of selectors was set ip, consisting of two founding members (one founding member must always be on the panel), one male nember, and two other girl members. Membership if the panel will be rotated over a three-month period. As the guts membership increases, we will be granted a second position on the panel.

* We recognise that there would, in all probability, be two distinct sectors within the membership: a social sector of people who support the group and wear the regalia, but who for resons of jobs, profile etc. would not in all probability be involved in any “disgraceful” activities: and a “hard-core” sector who would bege involved in street thestre, demonstrations, narches, and other disgraceful activities . Neither group would be condemned by other members of the gang because of their stand.

* We wish to involve ourselves in the activities of other groups, such as Act-Up, to help them achueve chanfes as well as having our own group identified. We would also ge planning parties, competitions, auctions etc  for members, friends, and the community in general.

* Any monies accrued would be used for the benefit of the group in arranging parties, promotions, events, and special meetings.

* We would maintain our loose knit structure with no formalised committee or such, to maintain our independence as a gang. However, the founding members would have the final say as regards all decisions in the gang. The panel if selectors would mert on a regular basis.

* We would, at allntime, support community causes, especially in areas such as AIDS, and AIDS treatment.

* We must become noticeable, and identifiable , the patch myst gecome identifiable as a symbol,of people who are involved T nany levels of communal help, as well as a certain degree of outrageousness. 

We all keft the merting knowing something monumental was happening. Barriers between poofs and dykes were down, and together we were going to make an impact of positiveness in this city, and hopefully further afield. 

Tim Allderman

__________________________________________________________________________

I Was A Slave Master for G.O.D

Total darkness reigns. Through the darkness comes the opening spaceship sounds of Isao Tomita’s 2001 Theme: Thus Spake Zarathustra. The theme reaches a crashing crescendo, and fades with the same rumbling space ship sounds. Before the haunting opening bars of “Camina Burana” mixes into it, the sound of whips, much weeping, wailing and cries for mercy are heard approaching from out of the darkness. The Orff Chorus booms all around, and suddenly dazzling light fills the empty space, refracted through the incense smoke from an ancient thurible swung by a nun, as she attempts to placate and enlighten the chained throng of slaves that are being whipped into submission behind her. Struggles ensure, but the whip mistresses, Centurian guards, and the executioner keep everybody in line! Chains clank, cries get louder, and the incense smoke thickens as they encircle the herculean pillars, and the block from which they will shortly be despatched to heaven…or hell on earth. As the strains of “Carmina Burana” fade, the Centurians lead the slaves off the floor to the enmeshed holding pen. Their fatalistic cries die as the whip mistress finally subdues them into total submission.

No, not a scene from “Ben Hur” or “Quo Vardis”, but the entry procession for the G.O.D Slave/Master/Mistress Celebrity Auction, held at the Midnight Shift on Sunday 9th September (1990). We stated in the sdvettising that all manner of celebrities, and sleaze buckets, would be going under the hammer for charity…and we meant it!

Paul and Francine from G.O.D introduced the event, then handed the evening over to the very capable and outrageous whims of Monkey., from Tantrum Tits Lingerie, who was the evenings MC and auctioneer. Despite some early hassles with a faulty microphone, she handled the night as only Monkey can – totally over-the-top!

First to the block was Tim Vincent, Mr South Sydney Drummer who, despite a sign written on his back claiming “You can’t afford me” started the bidding off well and – sorty Tim…but someone could, and did, afford you: Matthew Cox, of the Dolphins, actually.

Monkey wasted no time in pushing the bids through, and that auctionees, and their potential owners were equally in agreement with the purchase. In rapid succession, Mr East Sydney Drummer, Bondage Boy, Toy Girl, and Slave Boy were put on the block…and dispensed with!

Many of those to be auctioned went to great lengths to add some theatre to the event, with costuming and dramatic performances. Toy Girl, and Cleopatra, were of special note, using dramatic music and great costumes. Cleopatra seduced the crowd beautifully, as only the Queen of the Nile could, though the gentleman who purchased her was quite obviously totally confused and befuddled by the whole event. The San Francisco motorcycle cop looked hot, and went for a good price. Bossy Boots was determined not to leave the block until she went for what she was worth. The two Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were given lessons in humility from the pathetically low bids they attracted. Reverend Mother Abyss is destined for a longbstay in Purgatory for her little white lies – 19years old, and still a virgin! Mea Culpa, Reverend Mother!

Jade bought her cartoon Cowgirl character to life, and despite the lack of a horse still fetched a reasonable price. Footy Girl, and School Boy, both dressed for the part, came and went. The Safe Sex Sluts decided to go as a group lot, and despire much wig pulling and stiletto throwing were eventually dispensed of. The unlikely named Captain Falafel and hus didekivk Kid Sprout,  looking like two flared and flowered hippies still recovering from a Sixties bad acid trop, brought some hilarity to the night, and were ladt seen being bullied and raped (playfully) under the DJs box.

Ms Wicked was the final official entrant yo the block, and with much teasing, taunting and sexual persuasion eventually went for $800,000 ($200 in real money) after a group if girls pooled their resources.

Monkey, unbeknown to her at the time, was then grabbed by the Centurians, and led to the block. Having insulted just about everyone in the surrounds on the floor by this stage, bidding was bound to be high, and she was going for actual cash! Monkey took it all with good grace, got into the mood of the bidding by hurling out a few more insults to  remind people of how much she was actually disliked, declared that she was sick of girls, and wanted a guy for a change, and eventuallybwent for $70. 

This brought the evening to a close. As the 2001 Theme again faded away, the dual DJs Gemma & Tim got the crowd onto the dance floor, and held them there until the midnight closing.

$810 was raised for yhe Maitraya Day Centre, and Victoria’s “Lesbian News”. The entire night was an unprecedented success.

Slave/Master/Mistress Celebrity Auction, a G.O.D event held at the Midnight Shift circa 1989/90
Kerry Bashford’s write-up of the Slave/Master/Mistress Auction circa 1989/9, published in the Sydney Star Observer
My thank you letter as a G.O.D member, to all those attending the Slave/Master/Mistress Auction circa 1989/90, published in the Sydney Star Observer
The original piece in Wicked Women about the formation of the G.O.D Gang. Circa 1989
My original patches for the G.O.D gang. The boys were blue, the girls were red.
Tim Alderman (2017)

References

  • “Gay Print Media’s Golden Era: Australuan Magazines and Newspapers 1070-2000” https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/bitstream/handle/11343/54653/%252520%252520%252520%252520%252520%252520Gay%252520Media’s%252520Golden%252520Era%252520THESIS%252520PASSED.pdf?sequence=1
  • 138 – Editorial,” Wicked Women Vol 1, No 1, 1988
  • 139 Kimberly O’Sullivan, “Five Years of Infamy,” Wicked Women January 1993.
  • 140 Author interview with Jasper Laybutt 2013.
  • 141 Author interview with Jasper Laybutt 2013.
  • 142 “Jasper Laybutt,” in Kink, ed., Kerry Bashford (Wicked Women Publications, 1993). 
  • 143 Author interview with Jasper Laybutt 2013.
  • 144 “Jasper Laybutt.”
  • 145 Julie Catt, “What Wicked Did for Women,” Sydney Star Observer 1 August, 1996.
  • 146 Lumby, Bad Girls, p. 88, quoting Lisa Salmon.
  • 147 Author interview with Jasper Laybutt 2013.
  • 148 O’Sullivan, “Five Years of Infamy.” Also Graeme Hindmarch, “Ever More Wicked,” Capital Q 1 October 1993. 
  • 149 Author interview with Jasper Laybutt 2013.
  • 150 O’Sullivan, “Five Years of Infamy,” quoting Laybutt. 
  • 151 Catt, “What Wicked Did for Women.”
  • 152 Lumby, Bad Girls, p. 88, quoting Lisa Salmon.
  • 153 Catt, “What Wicked Did for Women.”
  • 154 O’Sullivan, “Five Years of Infamy.”
  • 155 Elena, “True Confessions of a Lying Romantic,” Wicked Women Vol 1, Issue 3, 1988. 156 “Fantasy,” Wicked Women Vol 1, Issue 1, January 1988. 
  • 157 Jamie, “Raw Cunt,” Wicked Women Vol 1, Issue 1, 1988. 
  • 158 Wicked Women Vol 1, No 3, 1988.
    159 Wicked Women Vol 1, No 5, 1988. 
  • 160 Wicked Women Vol 1, No 11, 1990.
    161 Linda Dement, “Fistfuck II – 1987,” Wicked Women Vol 1, Issue 3, 1988.
  • 162 “Woman with a Rabbit 1 – 1987,” Wicked Women Vol 1, No 3, 1988.
  • 163 Kimberly O’Sullivan, “Five Years of Infamy,” Wicked Women January 1993.
  • 164 “Blaze,” Wicked Women Vol 1, No 7, 1989.
  • 165 O’Sullivan, “Five Years of Infamy.”
  • 166 Ibid.
  • 167 “True Confessions,” Wicked Women Vol 1, No 8, 1989.
  • 168 Author interview with Jasper Laybutt 2013.
  • 169 Mikey Halliday, “Jasper,” Campaign August 1991. Also Leigh Raymond, “New Queers on the Block,” Capital Q 9 October 1992.
  • 170 Zenith, “Letters,” Wicked Women Vol 1, Issue 3, 1988.
  • 171 Michelle, “Femail,” Wicked Women Vol 1, Issue 9, 1990.
  • 172 Angel, “Editoria,” Wicked Women Vol 1, Issue 8, 1989.
  • 173 Vicki/Shan, “Femail,” Wicked Women Vol 1, No 10, 1990.
  • 174 O’Sullivan, “Five Years of Infamy.”
  • 175 Wicked Women Vol 1, No. 10, 1990.
  • 176 Lumby, Bad Girl, p. 88, quoting Lisa Salmon. 
  • 177 “Ms Wicked,” Campaign August 1991.
  • 178 O’Sullivan, “Dangerous Desire,” p. 122.
  • 179 O’Sullivan, “Five Years of Infamy.”
  • 180 Ibid.
  • 181 Author interview with Jasper Laybutt 2013. 
  • 182 Author interview with Jasper Laybutt 2013. 
  • 183 O’Sullivan, “Five Years of Infamy.”
  • 184 Linda Dement, “Untitled,” Wicked Women Vol 1, No 5, 1988.
  • 185 Sandy Merton, “Letters,” Wicked Women Vol 1, Issue 3, 1988.
  • 186 O’Sullivan, “Five Years of Infamy.”
  • 187 Author interview with Jasper Laybutt 2013.
  • 188 O’Sullivan, “Five Years of Infamy.”
  • 189 Author interview with Jasper Laybutt 2013. Also “Editoria,” Wicked Women Vol 2, Issue 2, 1991.
  • 190 Wicked Women No 28 1996.
  • 191 Julie Catt, “Dyke Mag Future in Doubt,” Sydney Star Observer 21 March 1996.
  • 192 Author interview with Jasper Laybutt 2013.

    Gay Publishing In Australia: Queering The Paper Trail.

    Queering the paper trail in the more hostile world before 1970 there were no Australian gay magazines. Thirty years later, almost half a million copies of them were churned out each month with revenues that exceeded eight million dollars a year.

    Despite this spectacular growth of a new industry – which continued until print was eclipsed in recent times by the internet – few publishers started newspapers or magazines with the intent to make money, and even fewer actually made any. Publishers came from the community as activist leaders, commercial venue owners or social scene participants who wanted to change their world in some way, great or small.

    Various publishers used magazines to talk about what it meant to be homosexual, to challenge the views of the outside world, and to encourage a sense of gay pride. Some pushed ideas that were controversial within the gay community, such as notions of assertive gay male masculinity or lesbian sexual fetish. Some also considered it a core role for their publications to promote and build the gay scene, and foster the identity of its individuals.


     Before the internet, magazines and newspapers were the dominant voice shaping gay and lesbian life in Australia. Through their need to sell advertising, they also played a part in developing the idea of the affluent gay consumer.

    Historian Graham Willett describes Australia in the 1950s as a time when homosexuals were persecuted. There was active discrimination of homosexuals by state institutions in terms of employment and other rights and an increase in psychotherapies and criminal convictions, accompanied by the isolating effect of either media silence or vilification. Books and publications with even hints of homosexuality were zealously banned under strict government censorship laws, both federal and state.

    But the world was changing. During the 1960s a range of predominantly youth-driven movements appeared: anti-Vietnam, New Left revolutionary radicalism, environmental concerns, the ‘get high, get laid’ counter-culture and second wave feminism, each challenging the dominant values of western society. It was these growing liberal attitudes and the gradual reform of censorship laws that made gay publishing possible.

    The first gay media in Australia was activist by nature. Camp Ink was published in 1970 by gay activists from the intellectual left, and 500 copies were printed to be “a voice to the outside world”, as its key instigator John Ware later said. He was a psychology student in Sydney at the time, who clashed with his lecturers over their teachings that homosexuality was deviant behaviour. The first Camp Ink cover image was a black and white illustration that implied aversion therapy was akin to sawing off a man’s penis. The magazine became the official journal for the activist group CAMP and offered a free flow of ideas presenting homosexuality in a positive light, with debates on topics such as promiscuity, male prostitution, religion transvestites, law reform and the role of beats.

    Despite the persecution of homosexuals, a gay world did exist before 1970, hidden from the public eye through friendship networks, in public parks and discreet corners of restaurants, coffee shops and bars. Catering to this private social scene, 22-year-old John Baker and his lover William Easton started the magazine William & John in 1972. They originally planned to produce a cheap newsletter to amuse their gay party set friends, but instead teamed up with a publisher to produce a more professional publication that boldly showed male nudity. Baker was not part of the formal activist movement nor the fledgling gay venue scene, and his magazine reflected the sexual libertine values of the time. Despite selling 20,000 copies an issue, William & John struggled to survive due to lingering censorship battles and personal difficulties faced by the publishers. However, a new market had been discovered and other commercially-oriented publishers then moved in to provide titillating content for gay men.

    Lesbians, out-numbered and out-shouted by gay men and seen by some in the women’s movement as tarnishing that movement’s reputation, started their own separate publications. Liz Ross was active in the women’s liberation movement but critical of its publications for not providing enough coverage of lesbian issues. She became a key member of a collective that in 1976 produced the first of an unbroken line of lesbian magazines in Melbourne – the baton passed from Lesbian News to Labrys to Lesbiana. Sydney soon followed with its own publications, including Lesbians On The Loose (LOTL), which is still being published today.


     Towards the end of the 1970s the gay world changed. Fueled by the mass migration of predominantly gay men from rural, suburban and interstate areas to the relative safety of the inner-city rapidly expanded the commercial venue scene, particularly in Sydney where the thriving Oxford Street precinct developed. This was accompanied by the growth of gay sporting, social and community service groups. Building and servicing this community suited the needs of media – it presented a reason to push forward gay rights, and on a practical level provided editorial content, advertising revenue and distribution outlets for the magazines.

    A flurry of new publications started up. In 1975, Sydney gay bar manager Rod Stringer met with Los Angeles Advocate staffers in the US and launched a similar magazine in Australia called Campaign. He avoided overt sexual imagery, wanting to produce a respectable publication focused on gay men’s entertainment and lifestyle.

    Eight years later in Melbourne, OutRage magazine shed its activist beginnings as Gay Community News to embrace a new name and a glossy presentation of entertainment and lifestyle. Its key architect was Danny Vadasz, and this dramatic shift from gay liberationist politics to gay men’s lifestyle mag mirrored his changing perception of the role gay media should play. He now saw the fight for gay social reform as achievable, rather than trying to overcome the entire capitalist/patriarchal system. Despite its shift to the commercial, OutRage stayed true to its activist origins through crucial and sustained coverage of the AIDS epidemic during the mid-1980s

    Other gay men’s lifestyle publishers wanted to shake up the fledgling gay community and reshape it. Michael Glynn started the free newspaper Sydney Star in 1979 to promote an assertive masculine style and featured leather-clad men with hairy chests and moustaches. He publicly urged gay men to abandon the “limp-wristed fairy image”.

    Michael Glynn
    The 1988 emergence of Wicked Women by Francine Laybutt and her girlfriend Lisa Salmon was a direct challenge to prevailing feminist views in Australia. As a couple, Laybutt and Salmon explored sexual fetish and sadomasochism and the magazine focused on hardcore S&M, triggering boycotts from sections of the lesbian community. Despite this backlash, the magazine ran until 1996.

    In the 1990s another key shift occurred in gay publishing with the dramatic expansion of free newspapers. Their growth into the dominant media form was driven by the fact they were free and easily-accessible, and their quick turnaround provided up-to-date news, venue gig guides and personal dating classifieds. High readership numbers attracted advertisers, which inevitably drove the search for even more readers. This led to a broadening of content to appeal to more sections of the community. More news was included, along with lesbian content and coverage of community group activities. Most advertisers were local businesses which encouraged the development of local newspapers in each city, and the market grew in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to sustain competing newspapers.

    This expansion was also fueled by the growth in advertising from mainstream businesses, which started to shed their fear of association with a vilified minority and instead saw potential gain from a dynamic niche group. Gay media’s constant appetite for advertising revenue beyond just local gay businesses saw it play a leading role in developing the idea of the affluent gay consumer. The massive expansion of free newspapers set the scene for an audacious takeover in 1999 when many publications were swallowed up by property development company The Satellite Group, which promised to deliver efficiency through its national scope, and to usher in the new age of the web. The venture failed due to poor management and massive debt in its property division, and the company was bankrupt 12 months later with all its publications shut down. The sector recovered, however, as ex-Satellite staffers launched Melbourne Community Voice in Melbourne and G in Sydney, soon replaced by SX. Previous publishers also launched Bnews in Melbourne, Qnews in Brisbane, QWest (later named Shout) in Perth, and Blaze in Adelaide.

    All print media suffered following the rise of the internet though gay publishing was particularly affected. The internet allowed confidential explorations of sexuality, and online cruising saw a decline in venue patronage and a further decline in advertising and readership in the print market. Gay magazines continue to survive in all major cities, though most readers now access the online versions. Hard-copy print runs have been slashed by up to 80 percent.

    The golden era for print may have passed but the reasons behind its emergence remain, as well as the crucial role it plays. Societal shifts toward the acceptance of marriage equality bring new debates about relationships and monogamy; as do other debates such as the increased censorship of under-age sexuality. However, individuals making their first tentative steps into exploring their sexuality still need help discovering their identity, companionship and sex. The question remains as to whether the internet is up to the task and until that is proven, a role still exists for diverse print media.

    Appeared in Archer Magazine Issue 1, Summer 201

    References

    Tim Alderman (2017)

      Australian Gay History: Paul Dexter & The Gay Army


      1983. Gay Politics: Sydney’s Mysterious (and Dangerous) ‘Gay Army’Posted on July 21, 2014 by Colin Clews

      Anyone who was around in the early 80s will remember the media’s hysterical response to AIDS and the ease with which it attributed it to gay men. It wasn’t labelled ‘the gay plague’ or ‘gay bug’ out of sympathy for us.
      So it was unsurprising that, in these hostile times, gay community organisations were doing everything they could to put across a true picture of the emerging crisis. As attacks on gay men increased dramatically in light of perceptions that we had ’caused’ AIDS, an intelligent and cautious approach was the order of the day.
      Or, alternatively, you could get yourself into the headlines and onto TV by claiming to be the leader of a non-existent gay organisation and making outrageous claims. Step forward Paul Dexter, self-proclaimed head of ‘the Gay Army’ in Sydney, an organisation that he claimed “represents the gay community more than others”.
      Gay Army Gay ConspiracyIn May 1983 he appeared as ‘the gay community spokesperson’ on a Channel 9 report on AIDS. His credentials were never provided nor was it explained why his views were more important that an organisation like, say, the Gay Counselling Service. Indeed, no one even bothered to ask for evidence that an organisation with the ridiculous name of ‘The Gay Army’ even existed. Nonetheless, he was up there with leading AIDS doctors and commentators like Larry Kramer.
      In June 1983 the Sydney Morning Herald – a newspaper that really should have known a lot better – quoted his claim that “left-wing elements” were responsible for the outcry against AIDS publicity. They didn’t even bother to explain just what that ridiculous statement actually meant.
      And yet, in spite of the obvious absurdity of this man, his fictitious organisation and his groundless claims, the Herald turned to him again the following year. Under the headline Gay group slates AIDS statement, Dexter – now “official spokesman for the Gay Army” – declared that AIDS was far more infectious than health experts claimed. “The advertisement suggests that AIDS cannot be spread by sneezing, coughing, breathing or mosquitoes but according to Mr Dexter, medical experts can give no scientific assurance of this.”
      Whilst Dexter was quick to challenge medical experts on their authority, he made no attempt to justify his own. And, yet again, no one asked him for any, nor evidence that his Gay Army actually existed.
      But, yet again, this was to be a case of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story. Dexter, it seemed, was happy to say anything to stay in the spotlight and the media were more than happy to report it. Take, for example, another headline Call for homosexual to spot gay clients, in which the “spokesman for the Gay Army” argued that “A homosexual should be behind the counter of the Red Cross Bank to spot any gay blood donors…”
      The entire article was farcical as Dexter claimed that he had seen a gay man give blood while he himself was in the Blood Bank (“Of course, I didn’t give blood…”). Dexter knew he was homosexual because “He had effeminate gestures, was wearing a bracelet and his key ring was in his right hand pocket – which is a sign of being gay.”
      His statements would be hysterically funny is they didn’t have such serious consequences. After stating, “Of course, you wouldn’t be able to pick out every gay but a homosexual would have a far better chance”, he went on to reinforce the conspiracy theory that HIV+ gay men were deliberately infecting the blood supplies: “A homosexual behind the counter would also deter any resentful homosexuals from giving blood.”
      It’s hard to say who is the most irresponsible here; Dexter for his blind self-promotion or the media for carrying stories about ‘conspiracies’ and health experts concealing the true facts when they didn’t even bother to do the most basic check on Dexter’s own credentials. When it comes down to it, they both share a huge amount of shame and blame.

      In 1985, Channel 10 did a report titled “The Truth About AIDS in Australia” (https://youtu.be/UKiiY5JUUvU). The witch-hunt was now in full swing. Popular 2GB talj-back host Mike Carlton, joined others in suggesting that gays were deliberately donating contaminated blood out of spite! The 10 report investigated, and lent support to, accusations that gay men were deligerately spreading AIDS! The charge was made in an anonymous letter sent to a New South Wales parliamentary committee inquiring into prostitution. The author suggested that heterosexuals who had been infected vua blood transfusions were innocent victims of an “evil conspiracy” in which homosexual activists deliberately infected blood supplies, so that their calls for government funding to fund AIDS would be acred on. Furtgermore, gays were knowingly infecting other men in their community to “get even” with old boyfriends because “the gay community is notoriously bitchy” .

      The letters author, a “King’s Cross Homosexual” was also angry that a “fringe group of radical homosexuals” – the NSW AIDS Action Committee led by Sydney academic Lex Watson – was claiming to speak on gehalf of the entire gay community. “They are establishing paper empires to get government funds and couldn’t care a stuff about their gay brothers and sisters” he wrote. While the Network 10 program acknowledged that it was impossible to prove these claims, it remarkably stated that it could ” prove that the AIDS blood plan was seriiysly considered” because homosexuals in America gad contemplated such an act of political terrorism, and the “intimate links across the Pacific ensured the American plan became pillow talk down under”. The report did not reveal how most American gay men regarded this terrorist actio, nor explain why Australian homosexuals would contemplate the plan when the Commonwealth and the State governments were already responding to AIDS with more urgency than politicians in the Unired States had shown during the first three years of the AIDS epidemic.

      The claims made in the letter were extraordinarily similar submissions nade to the mainstream and gay press by Paul Dexter, self-proclaimed leader of the Gay Army, which, as far as other gay men were concerned, consisted only of himself! Those who knew of his antagonism towards the AIDS Action Committee, and those who had begun to view the program cynically, would not have been surprised to see Dexter soon introduced as a “spokeman for the gay community” to confirm that a fringe group of radical gays were indeed spreading AIDS. As an “unbiased” member of the gay community, he supposedly served the purpose of demonstrating that homophobia was not the basis for the program’s investigation into the “evil conspiracy”. To many Darlinghurst gay men in the audience, hiwever, his presence only confirmed their doubts about the authenticity of the letter. 

      It is interesting yo note that when a nan considered by Jenny Ross to be an inappropriate representative of the hemophilia community was interviewed by another television station, his comments were omitted from the program that went to air at the request of the Harmpholia Foundation. Despite the complaints of the AIDS Action Committee that Paul Dexter did not represent the general views of homosexual community, and that he was predisposed to making spiteful comments about some of its members, it was extended no such curtesy. Rather, Network Ten neglected to examine Dexter’s personal & political motives for accusing radical homosexuals of donating blood infused with HIV , just as the press had failed to challenge the factual basis of the doctor’s claims. Presumable, the print and electronic media would have been more thorough in their search and selection of their witnesses if they were to accuse National Party politicians or religious leaders into spiteful murder. Moreover, one can be certain that a public outcry would immediately follow if such accusations were made.

      Paul Dexter was a small blip in the early days of HIV in Australia, but by setting himself as a self-appointed spokesman on the epidemic, and managing to gain as much exposure as he did, he created a lot of controversy, misinformation, and bias which in turn created its own problems. It is now difficult to even find any information on him…though like all bad history, he should not be forgotten! 

      Tim Alderman (2017)

      References

      Learning to Trusr: Australian Responses to AIDS – Google Books https://books.google.com.au/books?id=1trSx2c_pEYC&pg=PA62&lpg=PA62&dq=paul+dexter+%26+the+gay+army&source=bl&ots=kyGf7ZjoJ9&sig=HaTIJYsl4eDZAyjNRCxgzB-QB7I&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjTs7TsnrLVAhUPNpQKHUuaAhIQ6AEIIDAB#v=onepage&q=paul%20dexter%20%26%20the%20gay%20army&f=false

        Fractured Reflections From My Dotage! Life On The Melbourne & Sydney Gay Scene 1970/1980 Pt.1

        First published in the Dolphin Motor Clubs newslatter “Quid Nunc” in 1990.

        It would have been 1975. I can remember that I had just passed my 21st burthday and moved out of home to my first apartment in Allowah (thanks to a legacy from my grandmother, which allowed me to live surrounded by all life’s comforts). I hadn’t come out, but was on the brink of doing so. I had a female friend (I would love to know what has become of her – does anyone know Jo Conway?) who used to come over and play “the girlfriend” whenever my father was coming to visit. He was convinced that this was his future daughter-in-law, the girl from whose loins would spring the fruit that was to ge forever stamped with the family name. Fortunately, he died before finding out that (a) she was a lesbian, (b) I was gay, and (c) I changed my name – lock, stock & barrel.

        My lesbian friend was also the first to introduce me to Oxford St, which had its reputation even back then! We would catch the train from Allawah on Saturday nights and start out in Kings Cross, which gack in those days still had its mixed bohemian atmosphere, unlike today. The evening would usually start at  Chez Ivy in Bondi Junction, then to the Cross with the Barrel Inn, move onto the Bottom’s Up bar (strictly rough trade back in those days – not that I knew what that was…then!),Mother’s Cellar in Elizabeth Bay, then down to Jools, and up to Oxford St.

        First port of call was usually Caps, followed in succession by Flo’s palace (not filled with the clientele it later gecame associated with), then onto the small, but popular coffee and jaffle haven in Boyrke St called Nana’s ( later to become Chu Bay Vietnamese restaurant). 

        My friend was a close friend of the propriator, who was called Nana by everyone, and we had the privilege of being invited back to his terrace one night. Nana was the epitome of 1960’s camp – the bouffant hair, the wiggle walk, the limp wrist, the iver-the-top clothes, the works. The terrace was the ultimate in Victoriana – restored and decorated so. It was like entering another time! I vividly remember  sitting on the edge of an extremely dainty looking lounge, sipping Twinings tea out of giant amber Duralax cups, and nibbling on Iced Vovo’s (truly), all the time keeping a very hervoys eye on Nana (who kept leering at me) and his flatmate, affectionately called Cupcake, who kept flouncing down the stairs in various flowing creations, loudly declaring that he one of Sydney’s premiere designers under the auspicious label of “Margot of Sydney”.

        The final stop if our outings was Central station, at 6 o’clock in the morning for the first train back home.

        Ocford St confused me in those days. I wouldn’t let Jo’s hand go all night. I thought I should have been looking at the girls, being straight for all intents and purposes, but couldn’t stop myself looking at all the men and fantasizing over how great it would be to get off with one. On my solo stints into the city, I felt too intimidated to come to Oxford St. I frequented The Zoo in William St, (I think I now know who it was that tried to pick me up there…Paul Costello!), and the Downunder Disco in the Hyatt Kingsgate, all filled to the hilt with Italian John Travolta look-alikes, who all had with them girls who looked like Maria Venutti. I always went home alone. I was almost tempted  to go into the Zig Zag Disco in Darlo Rd, Kings Cross – which was reputedly gay – but nerves sent me fleeing at the last moment.

        The Oxford Hotel

        By 1979, I had settled for terminal, eternal celibacy! My one attempt at a straight relationship was a dismal failure. I nearly – which would have been a disaster – married her. She had a 6-year-old daughter who I thought the sun shone out of (and vice versa). She almost topped the scales in her mothers favour. Sexually, the relationship was doomed! I could not envisage a life of making love to a woman, while orgasming to the fantasy of a man. The body shape was – to me – all wrong, anyway. And coming down from the fantady was disillusioning. Celibacy seemed the only answer! My father also died at this time, so I had no need of pretense anymore. My company offered me a lucrative position in Melbourne – initially for 6-months, but ended up as 2 years.

        In Melbourne, I came out – and not with a whimper! 

        Another time, another name!

        Melbourne was my chance for a new start. Nobody knew me, no family to watch me! I needed to make friends, so I joined a gay group. My very first meeting with the group, and I scored my first man. Being naive, I was an easy target for anyone. I hadn’t learnt to say no to a man at that stage, and he wasn’t exactly the most desirable of men, but what the hell – one had tostart  somewhere. I used him as much as he used me. He initially picked me up, after the meeting, at the old University Club. Shit – my first encounter with a gay group, my first solo venture to a gay venue, and my first man…all in one night!
        He drove me to his place (with my dick out all the way), which was a good hours drive from Melbourne. The next morning, I had to get a train back. I wasn’t impressed. To this day, he doesn’t know he was my first. I’m a great actor!

        I discovered The Laird. I discovered Mandate. I became a clone, and still am (albiet a 90s version). And bought my first leather harness, and vest, from The Beat. I fell in lust with Laurie Lane, but didn’t get to mert him until many years later.  I still have a pin-up of him from a 1981 magazine. Between The Laird and Mandate, I started my tally sheet. Inperformed my one and only act of public sex – a blow job in the barred areas around Mandate’s dance floor. We danced to “Fade to Gray” at Smarties, drank beer at the Elizabeth Hotel, watched drag at Pokies. I discovered that trying to have a relationship with another bottom was a sure recipe for disaster. I was attracted to him, he loved me – but the beats more! My first broken heart, and one of the few times I have cried over a man! Getting drunk is a better cure! No man is worth the vile hangover the next day! I met a man from Sydney. I came gack…but on my terms! This relationship was also a disaster. The fact that I had teavelled 800-odd kilometres for it, made it worse. I met a friend of his, and we used to go to the 253 sauna to get off. My first intro to the baths. I disliked them, but it was convenient for both of us. 

        Bob – the Melbourne clone

        Signal, the Barracks, and Club 80 were going strong, but not my scene. I saw the 4th Mardi Gras, and joined the parade for the 5th. I remember the first Sleaze Ball at the Paddington Town Hall, and Parties 1, 2 & 3. I drank at the Albury, Flinders, and Beresford, and danced at the Shift.

        The Shift back then was clone and leather heaven! Split level dance floor, and lots if dark, wooden tables. Very barn-like, actually. The front bar was xalled “Charlie’s Bar”…and Charlie ruled it! The toilets were infamous, not to mention the goings-on around the dance floor. There was flesh everywhere – usually…okay, almost always, naked! People danced in Speedo’s and jockstraps, bandana and key codes meant something, and pick-ups were easy!

        We often partied until 9am, falling out the door into full sunlight, then off to The Spirit Cafe in Crown St for breakfast. Home for a few hours sleep (maybe someone elses home, and not much sleep) then back out again.

        We shopped at the Portuguese Deli (where Ian Roberts worked, and everyone wanted things from the top shelf just to get a rear view as he climbed the ladder); paid for over-priced groceries at Clancy’s; went clothes shopping at Daly Male (still going, though moved to a new spot), and Aussie Boys, Wheels & Doll Baby, Route 66; our leather and fetish gear from The Link, Jayar & Sax; books from The Bookshop; novelties from the Pop Shop; cakes from Pandora’s; flowers from Christopher’s Florist. We ate from the Bagel House; The Schnitzel Hut; Green Park Diner; Angkor Wat; Rockerfeller’s; Old Saigon; Billy Bunters; Betty’s Soup Kitchen; Loreto’s Larder; Raquel’s; The Californian (originally King’s coffee shop, named after the  mother establishment, of the same name, in King St, Newtown); Olympic Yerros(pizza slices on the way home from a big night out); Tin Hong (food poisoning central); La Boheme; Alfredo’s; The Balkan; una’s (Victoria St); Oddy’s; the list was endless. We read the Sydney Star – then the Sydney Star Observer, Capital Q, SX, Campaign, Outrage,  and the Village Voice; bought medical supplies from Serafim and Rely’s chemists (under-the-counter Ephedrine & Amyl); our hewspaper, magazines & stationery from Pigott’s Neesagency, or the newsryand outside The Oxford; hired video’s from Video Capers, then Videorama; costume accoutrement from Dita’s Feathers; bibs & bobs from Mother Of Pearl & Sons: records from Central Station (originally in the vicinity of what became the Bagel House) and Red Eye. There was even 2 butchers and a green grocer…once upon a time! And not to forget a very brief appearance from Gowings.

        The Oxford opened, and became to a whole clique for many years (until the trendy set made it too uncomfortable for us). The Flinders and Beresford sponsored street parties. Sleaze Ball became a major event (remember  the one with all the wrecked cars on the dance floor?). Pere’s Beat (originally the Purple Onion) came and went (Wendy Wayne & Tiny Tina live on in memory), the Handle Bar came and went, as did The Man. The Link moved from Crown St north to Crown St south, and finally to Newtown. Jools, Signal, The Barracks, Club 80, Hip Hop, the Roman Baths, 253, The Spirit cafe, Caps, T.C’s (Crown St), the Geresford, French’s (not gay, but certainly memorable), all slowly closed and entered the realms of Gay nostalgia. Friends and lovers started to die, and it seemed that the scene was going with them. Life became abbreviated to the Oxford, the Shift, Mardi Gras & Sleaze Ball. 

        Tiny Tina, Wendy Wayne, Barry Costello – Mardi Gras ’86

        My (our?) lives moved on also. I tested Positive for HIV, as did many others I knew. Some of us passed on (and still are), though thankfully many of us sre still hale & hearty. Eight years under a sentence is a long time! Still, most of oyr old haunts are gone, though we still have a good time – somewhat more quietly these days. Forgive us our reminiscences. We have a lotnto remember, and ai still claim we gad the best of it! The eleven years since coming out,mand now seems to have gone amazingly quickly. Lovers, friends, venues have all come and gone in the blink of an eye. 

        I am very hsppy now. My mother knows I’m gay, and reluctantly accepts it – ievidently she always knew. My half-sister will carry on the family line, if nothing else. I chucked the rest of my family years ago. To sever those ties, I changed my name. I like the empowerment derived from beginning & ending a family line. I am in several groups, which fulfils my nerd to ferl that I am doing something on the gay scene. I have made friends on the Lesbian scene, whichn takes me back to my gay roots. My social life is fulfilling enough. I am healthy, and will hopefully remain so. That is the only question mark in my life. I am in a relationship…again! Not the first dince the Sydney/Melbourne  episode, may I say, but certainly the most fulfilling I have ever had. I think the sun shines out of him, and he has added a dimension of happiness I don’t think he knows he has contributed. I see a lot of changes on the scene. I don’t necessarily like, or approve of, a lot of them, but ai guess I’ll lesrn yo live with them. It saddens me a bit to not have a venue for people in my age group who feel more comfortable with others from our generation. I won’t hive up hope on this point yet.

        The Beresford, Christmas ’85

        I guess to some, this is just another odyssey of coming out. I see it as the encapsulation of 10 years of change on the gay scene, from someone who saw the scene as ut was in the 70s, before coming out into the msdness of the 80s.

        As you dan see, the sdage of “the more things vhange, the more they stay the ssme” doesn’t always apply!

        Tim Alderman ©1990 (revised 2017)

        Peter McCarthy, Peter Gilmore, Bevan, Steve Thompson, Tim Alderman – Quilt unfolding, Government Pavilion, late 80s.

          

        The Final Two Executions For Sodomy In Britain – 1835. James Pratt & John Smith – A Travesty Of Justice!

        Old Bailey judgements in this case:

        “1934. JOHN SMITH and JAMES PRATT were indicted for b—g—y at the parish of Christ Church, Surrey; and WILLIAM BONILL was indicted as an accessory before the fact.

        SMITH— GUILTY.— DEATH . Aged 40.

        PRATT— GUILTY.— DEATH . Aged 30.

        BONILL— GUILTY . Aged 68.— Transported for Fourteen Years.

        Third Jury, before Mr. Justice Williams..”

        James Pratt (1805–1835)[1][2] also known as John Pratt, and John Smith (1795–1835)[1][2] were two London men who, in November 1835, became the last two to be executed for sodomy in England.[3] Pratt and Smith were arrested in August of that year after being convicted of having sex in the room of another man, William Bonill.

        William Bonill, aged 68, had lived for 13 months in a rented room at a house near the Blackfriars Road, Southwark, London. His landlord later stated that Bonill had frequent male visitors, who generally came in pairs, and that his suspicions became aroused on the afternoon of 29 August 1835, when Pratt and Smith came to visit Bonill. The landlord climbed to an outside vantage point in the loft of a nearby stable building, where he could see through the window of Bonill’s room, before coming down to look into the room through the keyhole. Both the landlord and his wife later claimed they both looked through the keyhole and saw sexual intimacy between Pratt and Smith, so the landlord broke open the door to confront them. Bonill was absent, but returned a few minutes later with a jug of ale. The landlord went to fetch a policeman and all three men were arrested.[1]

        Pratt, Smith and Bonill were tried on 21 September 1835 at the Central Criminal Court, before Baron Gurney,[4] a judge who had the reputation of being independent and acute, but also harsh.[5] Pratt and Smith were convicted under section 15 of the Offences against the Person Act 1828, which had replaced the 1533 Buggery Act, and were sentenced to death.[Note 1][Note 2] William Bonill was convicted as an accessory[6] and sentenced to 14 years of penal transportation.[4] James Pratt was a groom,[3] who lived with his wife and children at Deptford, London. A number of witnesses came forward to testify to his good character.[1] John Smith was from Southwark Christchurch[1] and was described in court proceedings[4] and newspaper reports as an unmarried labourer[2] although other sources state he was married and worked as a servant.[3] At the trial, no character witnesses came forward to testify on his behalf.[4]

        The conviction of the three men rested entirely on what the landlord and his wife claimed to have witnessed through the keyhole; there was no other evidence against them. One modern commentator has cast doubt on their testimony, based on the narrow field of vision afforded by a keyhole and the range of acts the couple claimed to have witnessed during the brief length of time they were looking.[7]
        The magistrate Hensleigh Wedgwood, who had committed the three men to trial,[8] subsequently wrote to the Home Secretary, Lord John Russel, arguing for the commutation of the death sentences, stating:
        “It is the only crime where there is no injury done to any individual and in consequence it requires a very small expense to commit it in so private a manner and to take such precautions as shall render conviction impossible. It is also the only capital crime that is committed by rich men but owing to the circumstances I have mentioned they are never convicted.”
        Wedgwood described the men as “degraded creatures” in another letter. Nevertheless, he argued that the law was unfair in their case as wealthy men who wished to have sex could easily afford a private space in which to do it with virtually no chance of discovery. Pratt and Smith were condemned only because they could only afford to use a room in a lodging house, in which they were easily spied upon.[9]
        On 5 November 1835, Charles Dickens and the newspaper editor John Black visited Newgate Prison; Dickens wrote an account of this in Sketches by Boz and described seeing Pratt and Smith while they were being held there:[10]
        “The other two men were at the upper end of the room. One of them, who was imperfectly seen in the dim light, had his back towards us, and was stooping over the fire, with his right arm on the mantel-piece, and his head sunk upon it. The other was leaning on the sill of the farthest window. The light fell full upon him, and communicated to his pale, haggard face, and disordered hair, an appearance which, at that distance, was ghastly. His cheek rested upon his hand; and, with his face a little raised, and his eyes wildly staring before him, he seemed to be unconsciously intent on counting the chinks in the opposite wall.”

        — A Visit to Newgate
        The jailer who was escorting Dickens confidently predicted to him that the two would be executed and was proven correct. Seventeen individuals were sentenced to death at the September and October sessions of the Central Criminal Court for offences that included burglary, robbery and attempted murder. On 21 November, all were granted remission of their death sentences under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy with the exceptions of Pratt and Smith.[11] This was despite an appeal for mercy submitted by the men’s wives that was heard by the Privy Council.[12]

        Pratt and Smith were hanged in front of Newgate Prison on the morning of 27 November. The crowd of spectators was described in a newspaper report as larger than usual;[13] this was possibly because the hanging was the first to have taken place at Newgate in nearly two years.[14][Note 3] The event was sufficiently notable for a printed broadside to be published and sold. This described the men’s trial and included the purported text of a final letter that was claimed to have been written by John Smith to a friend.[15]
        William Bonill was one of 290 prisoners transported to Australia on the ship Asia, which departed England on 5 November 1835 and arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) on 21 February 1836.[16] Bonill died at the New Norfolk Hospital in Van Diemen’s Land on 29 April 1841.[17]

        Newspaper Reports on the Execution

        Monday 23 November 1835

        On Saturday the Recorder made his report to his Majesty, at Brighton, of the undermentioned capital convicts under sentence of death in Newgate, convicted at the September and October sessions of the Central Criminal Court: – . . . Robert Swan, 28; for robbery. John Smith, 49, and James Pratt, 30, for an unnatural crime. . . . to all of whom his Majesty has extended his royal mercy, except John Smith and James Pratt, who are left for execution on Friday next. (London Standard)

        Saturday 28 November 1835

         RECORDER’S REPORT – On Friday the Recorder made his Report to his Majesty in Council at Brighton, of the prisoners who were capitally convicted at the September and October Sessions of the Central Criminal Court: – viz James Pratt and John Smith, for a nameless offence, committed in the borough of Southwark; Robert Swan, for extorting money from Thomas Reynolds, a Quaker, under a threat of accusing him of a nameless offence; R. Lavender, D. Ward, B. Vines, M. Collins, J. Coleman, and M. Harris, for burglary; . . . [and others] all of whom his Majesty was graciously pleased to respite, except James Pratt and John Smith, upon whom the law is left to take its course, and who were ordered for execution yesterday. The Council were in deliberation a considerable time on the case of Robert Swan, and did not break up until half-past eight o’clock in the evening. The Recorder came immediately to town by post, and made known the result of the Council to the Governor of Newgate, who lost no time in communicating it to the convicts whose cases had been reported. (Huntingdon, Bedford & Peterborough Gazette; virtually the same report appeared in the Derby Mercury for 25 Nov. 1835, the Manchester Courier for 29 Nov. 1835, and many others)
        Charles Dickens, in his essay “A Visit to Newgate” published in Sketches by Boz in 1836, describes his visit to the press-room of the condemned ward of Newgate where he saw Pratt and Smith awaiting their execution, together with Joseph Swan who would eventually be transported rather than executed (for extortion involving the threat to swear sodomy against someone – see Newspaper Reports for 1835). All three men were kept separate from the other condemned men becasue of the sodomitical nature of their offences, and Swann also distanced himself from Pratt and Smith because he was a blackmailer of sodomites rather than a sodomite himself.
        In the press-room below, were three men, the nature of whose offence rendered it necessary to separate them, even from their companions in guilt. It is a long, sombre room, with two windows sunk into the stone wall, and here the wretched men are pinioned on the morning of their execution, before moving towards the scaffold. The fate of one of these prisoners [Swan] was uncertain; some mitigatory circumstances having come to light since his trial, which had been humanely represented in the proper quarter. The other two [Pratt and Smith] had nothing to expect from the mercy of the crown; their doom was sealed; no plea could be urged in extenuation of their crime, and they well knew that for them there was no hope in this world. ‘The two short ones,’ the turnkey whispered, ‘were dead men.’ 
                  The man to whom we have alluded as entertaining some hopes of escape [i.e. Swan], was lounging, at the greatest distance he could place between himself and his companions, in the window nearest to the door. He was probably aware of our approach, and had assumed an air of courageous indifference; his face was purposely averted towards the window, and he stirred not an inch while we were present. The other two men were at the upper end of the room. One of them [probably Smith], who was imperfectly seen in the dim light, had his back towards us, and was stooping over the fire, with his right arm on the mantel-piece, and his head sunk upon it. The other [probably Pratt] was leaning on the sill of the farthest window. The light fell full upon him, and communicated to his pale, haggard face, and disordered hair, an appearance which, at that distance, was ghastly. His cheek rested upon his hand; and, with his face a little raised, and his eyes wildly staring before him, he seemed to be unconsciously intent on counting the chinks in the opposite wall. We passed this room again afterwards. The first man [i.e. Swan] was pacing up and down the court with a firm military step – he had been a soldier in the foot-guards – and a cloth cap jauntily thrown on one side of his head. He bowed respectfully to our conductor, and the salute was returned. The other two still remained in the positions we have described, and were as motionless as statues.

        Saturday 28 November 1835

        EXECUTION.
        Yesterday morning, at the usual hour, the sentence of the law was carried into effect upon James Pratt, aged 32, and John Smith, aged 34, who were convicted at the September Sessions of the Central Criminal Court of a capital offence. The Sheriffs arrived at Newgate about half-past seven o’clock, and immediately proceeded to visit the prisoners, whom they found engaged in prayer with the Rev. Mr. Cotton, the chaplain of the gaol, and Mr. Baker. Both the culprits appeared in a very weak state, and when eight o’clock arrived, the hour of execution, it was found necessary almost to carry them from their cell to the press room. Pratt, especially, appeared dreadfull weak and dejected. While Smith was being pinioned, Pratt appeared to suffer dreadfully. His groans resounded through the prison, and while he was pinioning he repeatedly exclaimed, “Oh God, this is horrible, this is indeed horrible.” He at this time was so weak that the executioner’s assistants found it necessary to hold him in their arms to prevent him from falling to the ground. All the preparations having been completed the melancholy procession proceeded to the scaffold, and in the room leading from the debtors’ door, as it is called, the ceremony of delivering up the prisoners to the Sheriffs of Middlesex was performed by Mr. Cope, the Governor of Newgate. Smith was the first who ascended the scaffold, and immediately afterwards Pratt was also assisted up the seps and placed under a beam. The moment the culprits were perceived they were received with groans and hisses, which lasted during the whole of the time the hangman was making the necessary preparations. These having been performed the bolt was drawn, and after a very short struggle the culprits ceased to exist. Pratt was a married man, the other culprit was single. (Morning Post)

        Sunday 29 November 1835

        EXECUTION. – On Friday morning, at the usual hour, the sentence of the law was carried into effect upon James Pratt, aged thirty-two, and John Smith, aged thirty-four, who were convicted at the September session of the Central Criminal Cour, of an unnatural offence. There were very few persons present at the execution. Both the wretched men to the last moment denied their guilt; they were convicted on the testimony of their landlady. The soldier, Swan, has been respited. (The Examiner)

        Monday 30 November 1835

        LONDON,
        MONDAY, NOVEMBER 23.

        Brighton, Sunday. – On Friday, his Majesty held a Privy Council, at which the Recorder attended, when two miserable convicts, John Smith and James Pratt, was ordered for execution on Friday next. In the evening, the Ministers and a large party dined with their Majesties. – This morning, their Majesties attended Divine Service in the Palace chapel. In the afternoon, the Queen attended at St. George’s chapel. (Salisbury and Winchester Journal)

        Monday 30 November 1835

        LONDON,
        SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 28.

        The two wretched culprits, James Pratt and John Smith, suffered the last penalty of the law yesterday morning in front of Newgate. (Salisbury and Winchester Journal)

        Wednesday 2 December 1835

        LONDON, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 28.
        EXECUTION. – Yesterday morning, at the usual hour, the sentence of the law was carried into effect upon James Pratt, aged 32, and John Smith, aged 34, who were convicted at the September sessions of the Central Criminal Court, of an unnatural offence. Thursday night Pratt was visited by a respectable Dissenting Minister. The Rev. gentleman exhorted him to repentance, and he confessed his guilt. The Sheriffs arrived at Newgate about half-past seven o’clock yesterday morning, and immiedately proceeded to visit the prisoners, whom they found engaged in prayer. While Smith was being pinioned, Pratt appeared to suffer horribly. His groans resounded through the prison, and while he was being pinioned he repeatedly exclaimed “Oh, God, this is horrible; this is indeed horrible!” He at this time was so weak that the executioner’s assistants found it necessary to hold him in their arms, to prevent him from falling to the ground. All the preparations having been completed, the melancholy procession proceeded towards the scaffold, which was first ascended by Smith with a firm step, but his companion needed support to the last moment. The executioner with amazing celerity adjusted the ropes, and cause the plank to fall which closed the world upon them. The crowd was excessive, but exceedingly decorous. (Hereford Journal)

        The following is an account of the case, with personal observations, by Father Frank Ryan & Peter Tatchell, who were convinced that the men were innocent!

        Father Frank Ryan casts new doubt on the 1835 convictions
        The wrongful conviction & execution of James Pratt & John Smith for ‘buggery’ in 1835
        By Father Frank Ryan
        The last Saturday of August 1835 was a beautiful hot day. James Pratt (30) left his wife and two young daughters in Deptford, searching for work – promising to return by 6pm. He was a labourer and needed a better job.
        Pratt first visited his aunt in Holborn, before heading to Blackfriars. His aunt thought he’d had too much to drink and needed a rest, but he pressed on. In an ale house he met John Smith, a labourer aged 40, and William Bonill (sometimes spelled Bonell), aged 68. Neither could offer him a job to improve his financial situation but their company was hospitable. Bonill invited Pratt and Smith back to his rented flat and they accepted.
        Little did they know as they made their way to his premises in nearby George Street, that this encounter would result in their execution – and that Bonill would be banished to the penal colony of Australia – all within a mere three months.
        The landlords of 45 George Street, Southwark, Jane and George (also known as John) Berkshire, were determined to curtail the activities of their tenant, William Bonill, who they regarded as an “old villain.” He had been bringing male “couples” back to his flat on a regular basis; sometimes two a day. George was determined to put a stop to this practice and get rid of what he regarded as a disagreeable and troublesome lodger.
        Shortly after the three men arrived, the suspicious, antagonistic George spied into Bonill’s room through a nearby window. A little later, over tea, he told his wife that he saw Pratt sitting on Bonill’s knees and then on Smith’s. There was much laughing and conversation, he said. Jane slipped upstairs and peeped through Bonhill’s keyhole. After a brief look, she returned to tell her husband that she had witnessed sexual acts. He became enraged, went upstairs and also looked through the keyhole. He then burst into the room to confront Pratt and Smith, who were in a compromising position, according to George Berkshire.
        At this point, Bonill, who had gone out for a drink, returned and entered the room. An effort to calm down Berkshire was unsuccessful. George went off to seek the police.
        Pratt, Smith and Bonill were soon arrested and taken into custody. Pratt and Smith were charged with ‘buggery’ (anal sex) and Bonill as an accessory. They went on trial for their lives before Judge Baron Gurney at the Old Bailey on 21 September 1835.
        The arresting police officer had no material evidence to support the charge. The account that Jane Berkshire told the jury is improbable. She said she watched for less minute but claimed to have witnessed the alleged sex acts, from the men undressing to laying on the floor and the “appearance” of anal penetration. She said she saw the men’s private parts but did not answer when asked whether either man had an erection. It seems doubtful that the keyhole could have provided the range of vision needed to see what she claimed.
        The testimony of George was very similar to Jane’s. It had a whiff of coordination. His evidence supported the charge that buggery had taken place. However, he failed to testify if the men had an erection or if he had seen actual penetration; though he claimed to have sighted their genitals and their bodies in motion.
        The anatomical description of intimacy described by George Berkshire would have been very difficult to witness. As in the case with Jane’s testimony, the keyhole probably could not have provided a sufficient angle of sight to provide the evidence he imparted to the jury.
        Neither James Pratt nor John Smith were allowed to give evidence at their trial. Both pleaded “not guilty” to the charge. Nevertheless, the jury returned a guilty verdict.
        The law against ‘buggery’ (not repealed until 2003) was based on an interpretation of the Bible that regarded homosexual acts as an abomination and worthy of death; a particularly evil sin that must be severely punished and eradicated. It was a capital crime.
        The judge had no hesitation in sentencing James Pratt and John Smith to death. He warned them their chances on appeal were hopeless and they could expect no reprieve. They had to prepare, he said, to receive God’s judgement upon departing this life. Both men left the dock in tears.
        William Bonill was sentenced to 14 years transportation to Australia. He died in Tasmania in 1841.
        As well as Pratt and Smith, there were many death sentences for different crimes handed down during the autumn 1835. The process of petitioning for clemency and commutation began.
        While being held in Newgate Prison, Pratt and Smith were visited by Charles Dickens who wrote they “had nothing to expect from the mercy of the crown, their doom was sealed.” The turnkey whispered to Dickens that they were “dead men.”
        John Smith, it seems, had no friends. But the friends of James Pratt commenced a vigorous campaign to save him. They gathered a substantial petition which included the trial prosecutor, former employers, neighbours and even George and Jane Berkshire, their accusers.
        All the documents were prepared for a Privy Council meeting with the King, William IV, to be held in Brighton.
        On 24 November, 12 men sentenced to death were reprieved by the King’s mercy. Pratt and Smith were not among them. Judge Baron Gurney’s warning had prevailed. In their case, the law was to be allowed to take its course.
        News of the pending execution spread around London, confirmed by the erection of the scaffold outside Newgate Prison.
        On Friday 27 November, the two prisoners were taken from their cells and brought to the place of execution, still protesting their innocence. Pratt was weak and had to be helped up the scaffold. The crowd began to hiss, possibly in disagreement with the execution. These were probably the last sounds the men heard. The hangman pulled the bolt and after a short struggle on the rope Pratt and Smith were dead.
        They are buried in a common grave, with others executed at Newgate, in the City Cemetery, Manor Park, London E12.
        In 2014, I petitioned the Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling MP, to grant a posthumous pardon to James Pratt and John Smith on the grounds that even by the standards of those days their convictions were unsafe. Further, the ‘buggery’ law itself was unjust. Consenting adult homosexuality should have not been a crime.
        In reply, the Justice Ministry regretted the men’s execution, acknowledging that it should never have happened, but said the conditions for granting a pardon had not been met. However, since the pardoning of Alan Turing for same-sex relations has established a legal precedent, hopefully the Justice Minister will, with further pressure, re-examine the case and grant a long overdue pardon to Pratt and Smith.
        • The full story of Pratt and Smith is retold in the book, The law to take its course – Redeeming the past, securing our future. It is available as a self-printed manuscript from the author, Father Frank Ryan, for the cost of printing (about £14): fmryan33@hotmail.com 
        • The book and this article are based on Ryan’s original research at the National Archives, British Library and London Metropolitan Archives, plus newspapers reports. 

        • This article was written by Frank Ryan, with the assistance of Peter Tatchell.



        And what of William Bonill?

        Convicted on the 25 September, 1835 to 14 years transportation at the Old Bailey, in London. He was shipped onboard the convict shop “Asia” on the 5 November 1835, to Tasmania (Van Diemen’s Land).

        He arrived in Tasmania on the 21 February 1836. He died on the 29 April 1841. 

        We have an entry from the Daily Sick Book, onboard the Asia “William Bonill, aged 71, Convict; disease or hurt, febris ephemera. Put on sick list, 9 November 1835. Discharged, 14 November 1835. Folio 2: ”

        There does not appear to be any other records for him.

        Notes

        1.  In the period from 1810 to 1835, 46 people convicted of sodomy were hanged and 32 sentenced to death but reprieved. A further 716 were imprisoned or sentenced to the pillory, before its use was restricted in 1816 (See: Lauterbach and Alber (2009), p.49).
        2. The sentence of death was mandatory, but under the Judgement of Death Act 1823, Gurney would have had the power to commute it to imprisonment.
        3. ^Pratt and Smith were the only people to be executed at Newgate in the three year period 1834–1836; this partial, temporary moratorium may have been for political reasons and because of a change in the law. Prior to 1834, individuals had been executed for any of 20 different offences; after 1836, only convicted murderers were hanged outside Newgate, until the ending of public execution in 1868. See A history of London’s Newgate Prison

        References 1

        •  Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.0, 08 March 2013), September 1835 (t18350921)
        • “Execution”. The Morning Post (20273). London. November 28, 1835.
        • Cook et al (2007), p.109
        • Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.0, 26 December 2012), September 1835, trial of JOHN SMITH JAMES PRATT WILLIAM BONILL (t18350921-1934).
        • Hamilton, J.A. (2004). “Oxford DNB article: Gurney, Sir John (subscription needed)”. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 7 January 2010.
        • “Central Criminal Court, Saturday, Sept. 26.”. The Times (15906). London. September 28, 1835. p. 4.
        • Ryan, Frank (24 March 2015). “Pratt & Smith – Last UK men hanged for sodomy”. Peter Thatchell Foundation. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
        • Cocks (2010) p.38
        •  Upchurch (2009), p.112.
        •  Lauterbach and Alber (2009), p.49
        • “Multiple News Items”. The Standard (2664). London. November 23, 1835.
        • Cook et al (2007), p.110
        •  “Execution”. The Times (15959). London. November 28, 1835. p. 3.
        • “A history of London’s Newgate prison.”. http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
        • Anonymous, “The Particulars of the Execution of James Pratt & John Smith” (1835), London printed by T. Birt. OCLC 83814830, Harvard Law School Library, Historical and Special Collection
        • “Asia voyage to Van Diemen’s Land, Australia in 1835 with 290 passengers”. Convict Records of Australia. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
        • William Bonill”. Convict Records of Australia. Retrieved 14 October 2013.

        Bibliography

        1. Cocks, Dr Harry (2010). Nameless Offences, Homosexual Desire in the 19th Century. I.B.Taurus & Co. ISBN 9781848850903.
        2. Cook, Matt; Mills, Robert; Trumback, Randolph; Cocks, Harry (2007). A Gay History of Britain: Love and Sex Between Men Since the Middle Ages. Greenwood World Publishing. ISBN 1846450020.
        3. Lauterbach, Frank; Alber, Jan (2009). Stones of Law, Bricks of Shame: Narrating Imprisonment in the Victorian Age. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0802098975.
        4. Upchurch, Charles (2009). Before Wilde: Sex between Men in Britain’s Age of Reform. University of California Press. ISBN 0520258533.

        References 2

        Extinguishment of Historical Homosexual Convictions in NSW

        On 24 November 2014, the Criminal Records Act 1991 (the ‘Act’) was amended to allow historical homosexual offences to be extinguished.

        Homosexuality was decriminalised in NSW in 1984, but prior to this time consensual sex between gay men was a criminal act. People with convictions for these historical offences have dealt with the stigma of a criminal conviction for a ‘sex’ offence which can affect employment opportunities, volunteering and travel. These amendments will allow a person with an eligible historical homosexual conviction to apply to the Secretary of the Department of Justice to have the conviction extinguished.
        Under the changes made to the Act, the Secretary has the authority to decide that an eligible conviction should be extinguished but only if if he or she is satisfied that the other person involved in the sexual activity consented to the sexual activity and was above the age of consent. The Secretary has powers under the Act to require certain persons or bodies to provide information for the purposes of making a decision under the Act.
        Applications may be made to the Department of Justice to have the following offences extinguished:

        • Buggery (s79 Crimes Act 1900)
        • Attempted Buggery (s80 Crimes Act 1900)
        • Indecent Assault on a male (s81 Crimes Act 1900)
        • Act of Indecency with another male person (or procuring) (s81A Crimes Act 1900)
        • Soliciting or inciting offences under ss79, 81 or 81A of the Crimes Act 1900 (s81B Crimes Act 1900)
        • Homosexual intercourse with a male over the relevant age (s 78K Crimes Act 1900)
        • Attempt or assault with intent to have homosexual intercourse with a male over the relevant age (s 78L Crimes Act 1900)
        • Acts of gross indecency with a male person under 18 (or procures) (s78Q Crimes Act 1900)- but only if the other person was over the relevant age
        • Indecent behaviour (s12 Police Offences Act 1901) or behaving in an indecent or offensive manner (s7 Summary Offences Act 1970) if the offence involved:
        • Sexual activity with another person of the same sex, or
        • Procuring another person of the same sex to engage in sexual activity.
        • ​​Exposure or an indecent act committed by an adult (s43(b) Crimes Act 1900), indecent exposure (s11 Summary Offences Act 1970; s78 Police Offences Act 1901) or wilful and obscene exposure (s6 Offences in Public Places Act 1979; s12 Summary Offences Act 1970; s4(2)(d) Vagrancy Act 1902) if the offence involved:
        • ​​The offender engaged in a form of sexual activity with a person of the same sex, and
        • ​​The offenc​e was not witnessed by​ anyone except the other person engaged in the sexual activity or a police officer, and
        • It was the offender’s first conviction for the offence.

        Reference

        Gay History: Piers Gaveston & Edward II

        The Earl of Warwick stands over the decapitated body of Piers Gaveston. From the 15th-century ‘Rous Rolls’.

        Piers Gaveston Executed
        By Richard Cavendish

        Published in History Today Volume 62 Issue 6 June 2012

        Richard Cavendish remembers the royal favourite who died on June 19th, 1312.

        The Earl of Warwick stands over the decapitated body of Piers Gaveston. From the 15th-century ‘Rous Rolls’.

        The Earl of Warwick stands over the decapitated body of Piers Gaveston. From the 15th-century ‘Rous Rolls’.

        Soaring up from a comparatively humble background, King Edward II’s favourite flew too high and paid the penalty. Piers Gaveston was born around 1284, the son of a Gascon lord, who gave many years of loyal service to Edward I. In his early teens Piers became a member of the royal household. In 1300 he was moved to that of the Prince of Wales, the future Edward II. They were both about 16, took to each other and an extremely close friendship developed. There were many at the time who thought it was a homosexual relationship, but some modern historians see it as more like close brotherly love. The two may have been sworn blood-brothers and Edward referred to Gaveston as ‘my brother Piers’. Edward would have four children by his French queen, Isabella, but he could have been bisexual.

        Whatever the exact nature of the relationship, it spelled trouble. In 1307 Edward I banished Gaveston from England, though he was to be paid an allowance while awaiting recall, but the king died soon afterwards and the new king immediately brought Gaveston back to his side, made him Earl of Cornwall and bestowed on him an extremely well-connected aristocratic wife and substantial quantities of land and money. Edward II was not remotely the man his father was and he had serious trouble with some of his father’s most powerful barons, who bitterly resented being sidelined by a man they considered an arrogant, greedy upstart.

        In 1308 Edward allowed Gaveston a provocatively prominent role in his coronation and the ensuing banquet, at which he paid so much attention to the favourite that Queen Isabella’s French relatives walked out. The king was forced to send Gaveston away to Ireland later that year, but he was back in 1309 and resumed his dominant position at court as Edward’s principal adviser and controller of royal patronage. He behaved as arrogantly as ever and allegedly bestowed disparaging nicknames on leading figures in the realm. Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick was ‘the Black Dog of Arden’, Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke was ‘Joseph the Jew’ and the generally much-respected Earl of Lincoln was ‘Burst Belly’. By March 1310 opposition had mounted to such a point that the king had to agree to the appointment of the Lords Ordainers, a committee of 21 earls, barons and bishops who were to draw up rules for the management of the royal household and the realm. Meanwhile the king led a military campaign in Scotland that failed to subdue Robert the Bruce.

        In August 1311 the Ordainers produced their new rules and demanded that Gaveston be sent into exile and never allowed to return. The horrified Edward offered to agree to the changes if Gaveston was allowed to stay, but the Ordainers would have none of it and in November the favourite left the country. He was back in England again by the following January, however, and Edward announced that Gaveston’s exile had been unlawful, restoring all his confiscated possessions.

        The country was now threatened with civil war as the barons gathered their private armies. The Earl of Lancaster (who was Edward I’s nephew) almost caught the king and Gaveston in Newcastle, but they just managed to escape and fled by sea to Scarborough, where Edward left Gaveston and went to York. Gaveston was besieged in Scarborough Castle by the earls of Pembroke and Warwick. In May Gaveston surrendered to Pembroke on condition that, if no agreement could be reached with the king by August 1st, he would be sent back to Scarborough Castle, which was not to be reinforced in the meantime. Pembroke took Gaveston to a town called Deddington, south of Banbury, and left him there for the moment. On the following day, to the dismay of Pembroke, who had guaranteed Gaveston’s safety, the favourite was seized by the Earl of Warwick and taken to Warwick, where he was paraded past a jeering crowd and put in a dungeon in the castle.

        Lancaster and Warwick decided that Gaveston must die. After some pretence of a trial, apparently, he was taken to Blacklow Hill, not far from Warwick, on land that belonged to Lancaster, and run through with a sword before his head was cut off. He would have been about 28 years old.

        Gaveston’s body was left lying there to rot, but was later rescued, embalmed and eventually buried in the Dominican friary at King’s Langley in Hertfordshire. In 1823 a monument was erected on Blacklow Hill by the local squire on the spot where Gaveston was thought to have been executed. The disapproving inscription describes him as ‘the Minion of a hateful King’ beheaded ‘by Barons as lawless as himself.’



        Reference

        History Today http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/piers-gaveston-executed

        “Edward II and Piers Gaveston” – detail of an engraving from a painting by Marcus Stone (1840-1921). Edward and Piers are on the left, Queen Isabella and the disapproving courtiers watch on.

          Further Reading

          1. http://queerstoryfiles.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/fate-that-waited-7-centuries.html
          2. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piers_Gaveston,_1st_Earl_of_Cornwall
          3. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piers_Gaveston_Society
          4. https://thefreelancehistorywriter.com/2015/08/29/scandalanddownfallofpiersgaveston/
          5. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/9264564/Piers-Gaveston-bending-the-monarchs-ear-and-will.html

          Tim Alderman (2017)

          Gay History: 1578 – Five Sodomite Monks Executed in (Calvinist) Ghent

          DescriptionExecution of Monks in Ghent because of Sodomy, 28 June 1578; Five monks accused of sodomy about to be burnt at the stake, left, and three others flogged, background centre, in Ghent town square. 1578 Etching
          On June 28, 1578, five Catholic monks were burnt to death in Ghent for homosexuality.

          At our scene in the Spanish-controlled Low Countries, the revolt that would become known as the Eighty Years’ War and secure Dutch independence still had about 70 of those years to run.
          Stadtholder William of Orange, aka William the Silent, has his hands full with the Habsburg forces determined to crush their disobedient subjects.

          Half civil war, half proto-nationalist revolution, this conflict overlaid disputes over both political and religious authority, complicated by a catastrophic Spanish bankruptcy.

          Of this compelling history much beyond our scope, the piece of most moment for our unfortunate monks was a grudging agreement to chill out the sectional suppression as part of a temporary truce between the warring sides. Said “slackening of persecution inspired Reformed public worship and attempts to topple the Catholic stewpot.” (Source)

          Late in 1577, a political coup in the commercial powerhouse of Ghent did just that, part of a mini-Renaissance of Calvinist city-republics that Spanish arms would truncate in the 1580’s. But here in the 1570’s, the newly elevated slate of Calvinists implemented a “Reform” agenda that included aggressive moves against Catholic authority.

          On 18-22 May [1578], the Reformed launched an attack on the four mendicant monasteries. Their churches were purified and made ready for Reformed worship. On 1 June the first public preaching was organized in the Dominican and Carmelite churches. (Source, a pdf)

          Rumors of homosexuality in the religious orders swept the overheated city (assuming they were not put about intentionally), and this day opened a summer’s terror that saw 14 monks burned (pdf) for the love that dare not speak its name.

          Kenneth Borris translates the inscription on the Franz Hogenberg image linked above thus:

          “five monks are being burned in Flanders, in the city of Ghent. Four are Franciscans (Minnenbruder*) and the fifth Augustinian. Also three have been quickly flogged with switches on the market square as they deserve, because of their outrageous sexual offenses (unzuchtt) that greatly offended the authorities. That is why the four mendicant orders have now been driven out of Ghent.”

          William the Silent, made of more statesmanlike stuff than these zealots, would actually enter Ghent himself the next year to disarm the ruling clique, realizing that firebrands were driving Catholic cities back into Spanish arms.

          But he could not contain the schism. Spain ultimately kept the Catholic-leaning territories that today comprise Luxembourg and Belgium (including Ghent), while the Protestant Netherlands fought onward to independence.

          * “Minnenbroder,” Borris explains, “may be a satiric pun on the word minne (which had come to mean debauchery), suggesting ‘brothers in lust’ as opposed to brotherly love. Hogenberg connects sodomy with ‘godlessness,’ as was common.”

          References

          Tim Alderman (2017)

          Gay History: Ali bin Hittan bin Said, Muhammad bin Suleyman bin Muhammad, and Muhammad bin Khalil bin Abdullah – 2002

          The three men – ‘Ali bin Hittan bin Sa’id, Muhammad bin Suleyman bin Muhammad and Muhammad bin Khalil bin ‘Abdullah, all Saudi Arabian nationals, were publicly beheaded in Abha, Asir province, on 1 January 2002.

          The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior issued a statement announcing that the three were convicted of homosexual acts, adding vaguely-worded charges of ‘luring Children’s rights and harming others’ without providing any further details. The trial proceedings – like most in Saudi Arabia – remain shrouded in secrecy.
          Director of Amnesty International UK Kate Allen said:
          ‘The execution of these three men is yet another gesture of defiance of international standards by the Saudi Arabian government.
          Widespread revulsion at these killings has led Amnesty International members to urgently contact the Saudi authorities expressing concern that these men may have been executed primarily because of their sexual orientation and seeking clarification of the exact charges and evidence brought against them.’
          No detailed information regarding the trial proceedings for these individuals is yet known. Amnesty International is now also seeking urgent clarification of the names of any further prisoners under sentence of death due to their sexual orientation and calling for the commutation of their sentences.
          This case is not an isolated case of people in Saudi Arabia being punished for alleged same-sex sexual relations. In April 2000 it was reported that a Saudi court had sentenced nine young men to prison sentences and up to 2,600 lashes each for ‘deviant sexual behaviour’. Six men were executed in July 2000 on charges partly relating to their sexual orientation and Amnesty International feared that these six may in fact have been among the nine men sentenced to the flogging and prison sentences. Like the recent executions, these six death penalties were carried out in Abha, Asir province.
          This latest action by Amnesty International follows the publication last year of a report – Crimes of hate, conspiracy of silence – revealing that over 70 countries continue to criminalise same-sex relations, with some such ‘offences’ incurring the death penalty.
          “Saudi Shame

          Maryam Namazie

          Published in Gay Times

          June 2005

          Gay people are routinely facing harassment, arrest, torture, flogging and execution in Saudi Arabia. It’s no wonder the gay rights group OutRage! has labelled Saudi Arabia one of the most homophobic countries in the world.

          In May alone, as many as 92 men were arrested as ‘deviants’. On March 10, over 100 men were arrested after a raid for attending a gay wedding and found to be dancing and ‘behaving like women’. According to Amnesty International, 31 of the men were sentenced to imprisonment for 6 months to a year and up to 200 lashes each; four namely two Saudi Arabians, a Jordanian and a Yemeni were given two years’ imprisonment and 2,000 lashes. As is usual in Saudi Arabia, the sentences were passed in a closed session in which defence lawyers were barred. According to Human Rights Watch, the more than 70 men who had initially been released were subsequently summoned back and informed they had also been sentenced to one year’s imprisonment each.
          These arrests closely follow the public beheading of Ahmed al-Enezi and Shahir al-Roubli, two gay lovers in Arar, in the north, for allegedly murdering a man who had found out about their relationship and was threatening to out them. The Saudi Interior Ministry’s statement announcing the execution said the two were found in a ‘shameful situation’, a term which is regularly used by the authorities to refer to homosexuality.
          Whilst the reports are alarming, and seem to be escalating, one can be certain that these are only the tip of the iceberg. Most cases of persecution go unreported for the mere reason that the government is a dictatorship with strict censorship rules. For every report that reaches the international media and organisations, there are thousands of nameless, faceless individuals whose fate goes unreported. Under such circumstances, it is exceedingly difficult to collect facts and highlight the persecution gay people face. In the case of those arrested at the party for example, it was someone close to a defendant who alerted international organisations of the arrests and not official reports. The Saudi authorities seldom release information about arrests until after a trial and it is impossible to independently verify reports. All Saudi executions are also not systematically reported; officials continue to deny that the death penalty is applied for homosexuality ‘alone’. Of course there is evidence otherwise. On 1 January 2002, for example, Ali bin Hittan bin Sa’id, Muhammad bin Suleyman bin Muhammad and Muhammad bin Khalil bin ‘Abdullah were executed in Abha, Asir province, solely for their sexual orientation. And this is not a problem faced by gays in Saudi Arabia alone. In Iran, for example, on March 15, a government affiliated newspaper, Etemad, reported on the execution sentence of two men for homosexuality. No further reports have been received and their fate is unknown.
          The abysmal situation of gay people in Saudi Arabia has to be looked at within the context of serious rights violations across the board. The beheadings of the two gay lovers in Arar brought the numbers beheaded for a variety of reasons this year alone to 24. People living in Saudi Arabia don’t have basic rights and freedoms and human rights violations are truly pervasive. Like all countries under Islamic rule, though, sexual ‘crimes’ are dealt with most severely because of their ‘shamefulness’ and ‘perversity’, especially since an Islamic state is usually most preoccupied with the control of sexuality and sex in order to assert its own ‘divine’ and ‘moral’ legitimacy.
          Certainly, Islam is not unlike other religions when it comes to sex and sexuality. It is just as inherently homophobic and misogynist as other religions but there is one important fundamental difference and that is that it is a religion in power or vying for power in many countries in the 21st century. Homosexuality is condemned as ‘indecency’, ‘lewdness’, ‘degenerate’, ‘transgressing beyond bounds’ and in need of ‘punishment’ in the Koran. In the Hadith, which are the sayings of the prophet Mohammad and part of Sharia or Islamic laws, it clearly states: ‘Kill the one who sodomises and the one who lets it be done to him.’ Under Islamic Hudud laws, ‘illicit’ gay or straight sex are considered offences for which the punishment is mandatory and corporal in nature – including flogging, execution and stoning to death. These ancient religious texts become all the more relevant because they are translated into the laws of countries like Saudi Arabia and effect real live human beings. Whilst according to Amnesty International, more than 80 countries around the world criminalise same sex relations, eight punish it by death (Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria – in states practising Sharia law, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, and Yemen) – all of which one might add are countries or parts of countries under Islamic law.
          This doesn’t mean that there isn’t an active gay community in Saudi Arabia, Iran or elsewhere or that gay tourists will be beheaded upon entry. Despite serious repercussions, people continue to live their lives, have sex and express their sexuality. Most Saudi cities have underground gay networks, which organise private parties. Some visitors find this pleasantly surprising and therefore mistakenly conclude that restrictions and repercussions are exaggerated. They are not. Or they often consider the legal restrictions and impositions as part of the ‘people’s culture and religion’ rather than that of the ruling class’. These visitors fail to make a distinction between the regime imposing these inhuman and medieval laws and the people forced to live under them.
          Of course homophobia exists everywhere including in countries that do not impose Islamic law. But Islam in power or political Islam has raised homophobia to another dimension. Those of us who have fled political Islam know full well the levels of threats and intimidation those with ‘unchaste’ and ‘perverse’ lifestyles have faced and continue to face. The political Islam behind the arrests, floggings, and beheadings in Saudi Arabia is part of the same right wing reactionary movement, which hung sweet 16 year old Atefeh Rajabi from a city square in Iran for ‘acts incompatible with chastity’, beheaded prostitutes in Iraq and recently stoned to death a 29 year old woman, Amina, accused by her husband of adultery, in Afghanistan. [As I mentioned, in many cases, we are left with only a first name or no name at all.]
          This movement is also permeating into life in Britain and the west as well. Demands for child veiling, Islamic schools and a Sharia court in Britain for Muslims as well as Ken Livingstone’s love affair with al-Qaradawi are all evidence of this fact. In Saudi Arabia and Iran, political Islam kills, maims and brutalises, but here the ‘moderate Islamic scholar’ Qaradawi’s support for women’s ‘modesty’ and his condemnation of sexual acts as ‘perversions’ are deemed mere abstract questions of freedom of speech or academic/theological debates. Don’t be fooled. They are all part and parcel of the same movement and implement Islamic rules as soon as they have any power. [By the way, it was also an ‘Islamic scholar’ who issued the sentence for Amina’s stoning to death in Afghanistan.]
          The rise of political Islam here in Britain is affecting countless women, gays, and others who have sought refuge and safety in Britain from it. Moreover, whilst the UK government has close relations with countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, it continues to refuse and deport its victims. Just last year, Hussein Nasseri, 26, a gay man who feared he would be executed if he were deported to Iran killed himself after the Home Office turned down his second appeal for asylum.
          To make matters worse, any attempt to criticise Islamic laws and states are now being deemed racist and Islamophobic. Even the Saudi government itself has labelled criticism of its policies and practices as such. Clearly though, the targets of racism and discrimination are human beings not beliefs or ideas belonging to or attributed to them nor social or political movements associated with belief systems. Such labels are often used by Islamic states and their apologists in the west to silence any criticism and opposition.
          Nonetheless, the Saudi government and its likes need to know that the world is watching them when they abuse rights with such impunity. They cannot be allowed to torture, imprison and behead gay people and others under cover of secrecy and carry on with business as usual with western governments such as the UK government, which has military links with the kingdom. Most importantly, though, those being abused and violated need to know they are not alone. That they are not just nameless, faceless individuals languishing in prison or facing torture and execution. They need to know that there are other people all over the world who will not stand by and remain silent.”
          References

          Tim Alderman (2017)

          Gay History: Three Molly-House Sodomites – 1726

          May 9th, 1726.

          Nine men and one notorious women died at Tyburn on this date in 1726 at a more than usually raucous execution-day.“At the Place of Execution, Map got himself loose, threw himself out of the Halter, and jump’d 3 or 4 Yards from the Cart, upon the Heads of the numerous Crowd of People, but the Officers following after him, wounded him with their Pikes, and the Executioner and some others soon brought him back again,” the Ordinary’s account remarked. “Vigous got himself free of the Halter also, which was immediately observ’d: Gillingham was the more desirous of Prayers, having the Night before taken Poyson, and conscious of his Guilt.”

          And that’s just what was happening under the nooses.

          Out in the audience,

          Just before the Execution, a Scaffold that had been built near Tyburn, and had about 150 People upon it, fell down. A Snuff Box Maker in Castle-Street, and a Gentleman then not known, were, as ’tis believed, mortally Wounded; and about 12 other Men and Women, Maimed and Wounded in a most cruel Manner: Some having their Legs, others their Arms, &c. broke.

          Some part of the Scaffold being left standing, the Mob gathered upon it again in Numbers; and in about Half an Hour more, that also fell down, and several were hurt. Soon after another Scaffold broke down, with about 100 Persons upon it; but the People that were damaged by it, being immediately carried off on Mens Backs, and in Coaches, we must defer the Particulars of that Mischief … (Daily Journal, May 10, 1726)

          We will leave for a future May 9th the notorious fate of the woman, Catherine Hayes, and focus for this post on the fate of the notorious men: sodomites Gabriel Lawrence, William Griffin, and Thomas Wright.

          A mere three months before, this trio had been among dozens of men rounded up in a raid on London’s thriving “molly house”.

          These establishments catered to what we might anachronistically call the gay scene of Georgian London — or the molly scene, if you like, from the slang term for effeminate, cross-dressing, or homosexual men encompassing a panoply of alternate sexual identities and preferences. What these behaviors “among Christians not to be named” had in common, of course, was the opprobrium of the surrounding world.

          Rictor Norton, who keeps the voluminous Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century Enland site and wrote a book about Mother Clap’s Molly House, records a 1726 letter to the editor demanding an exemplary punishment to check the misuse of genitalia.

          It being too notorious, that there are vile Clubs of Miscreants in and about this City, who meet to Practise and Propagate the detestable Sin of Sodomy, a Crime which drew down the flaming Vengeance of God upon the City of Sodom, in a Day when they had not that Light which we are bless’d with now, ’tis humbly propos’d that the following Method may not only destroy the Practice, but blot out the Names of the monstrous Wretches from under Heaven, viz. when any are Detected, Prosecuted and Convicted, that after Sentence Pronounc’d, the Common Hangman tie him Hand and Foot before the Judge’s Face in open Court, that a Skilful Surgeon be provided immediately to take out his Testicles, and that then the Hangman sear up his Scrotum with an hot Iron, as in Cases of burning in the Hand.

          Old Blighty was never favored with courtroom scrotum-searings, but connoisseurs of same-sex love “must risque our necks for” it well into the next century.

          But what pleasures welcomed the man who was ready to wager his life! An informant reported from that same Mother Clap’s that he

          found between 40 and 50 Men making Love to one another, as they call’d it. Sometimes they would sit on one another’s Laps, kissing in a lewd Manner, and using their Hands indecently. Then they would get up, Dance and make Curtsies, and mimick the voices of Women. O, Fie, Sir! – Pray, Sir. – Dear Sir. Lord, how can you serve me so? – I swear I’ll cry out. – You’re a wicked Devil. – And you’re a bold Face. – Eh ye little dear Toad! Come, buss! – Then they’d hug, and play, and toy, and go out by Couples into another Room on the same Floor, to be marry’d, as they call’d it.

          Several such informers were stalking the city’s molly-houses in the 1720s, goaded (or forced) by both police and private bluenoses. One of the resulting court records notes that “[t]he discovering of the Molly Houses, was chiefly owing to a Quarrel betwixt Mark Partridge and – Harrington: For upon this Quarrel Partridge to be revenged on Harrington, had blab’d something of the Secret, and afterwards gave a large Information of a great many others.”
          Many lives hung on this lover’s spat. Mother Clap’s was raided in February 1726, but it was just the most famous of a whole series that forced into public awareness “a new, distinct molly ‘sodomite’ identity.”

          The saving grace for the twoscore arrestees at Mother Clap’s was that even in Bloody Code England, a fairly high bar was required to execute for same-sex sodomy: “penetratio, that is res in re“ (“thing in thing”)* — often quite difficult to prove.** As nobody had actually been caught in flagrante delicto, most of those initially arrested were simply released un-charged.

          But the informants raise their scaly heads once more here: as they were themselves habitues of the molly circuit, they could provide firsthand eyewitness testimony about the acts of buggery several men had committed with them.

          Five men were put on trial for their lives in April on the strength of accusations made by informants Mark Partridge, Thomas Newton, and Edward Courtney. The cases are described in some detail at Norton’s site: Gabriel Lawrence and William Griffin, both 43-year-old married men, were Mother Clap regulars who implausibly claimed to have no idea it was a molly house. (The place was a coffee shop/tavern.) Griffin actually lived there. Both these men were easily condemned but refused to the end to admit their proclivities to the Newgate Ordinary, and insisted that they had been framed.

          Thomas Wright, seller of ale, had gone so far to set up his own molly house where he both slept with Newton, and procured Newton for his other customers. Wright, who “inclin’d to the Anabaptist-Way,” also said that Newton had perjured himself; nevertheless, he “could not deny his following this abominable Courses, only he refus’d to make particular Confessions.”

          A third informant keyed two additional capital trials that didn’t end at Tyburn. George Kedger (Keger) and George Whittle (Whytle) both mounted much stronger defenses casting much greater doubt on the circumstances of their entrapment.

          Charged with taking Courtney into his bed, Kedger contended that he had in fact resisted Courtney’s advances until the latter threatened to “swear my Life away”. Kedger was condemned, but pardoned. Whittle did still better by forcing his accuser to admit that he was a convict three times over and insinuating that rumors about his buggery were started by a disgruntled lodger. With a parade of character witnesses at his back, Whittle was acquitted outright.

          * This was also the standard for same-sex rape; we’ve seen in these pages a man’s life hang on a question of just the tip.

          ** Attempted buggery — a charge which could result from making a sexual advance on another man that he rejected, or as a judicial punt when same-sex activity was afoot but no penetration could be proven — might land one a fine and a trip to the pillory. This was no mean sentence; the pillory could be quite a dangerous (sometimes lethal) ordeal for homosexuals or for anyone else.

          Mother Clap herself, whose molly house we have referred to throughout this post, was also pilloried, not executed. Her eventual fate is not known; a marker in Holborn notes the former site of her famous establishment.

          Gabriel Lawrence’s Old Bailey Sodomy Trial 20th April 1726

          Gabriel Lawrence , was indicted for feloniously committing with Thomas Newton , aged 30 Years, the heinous and detestable Sin of Sodomy . Thomas Newton thus depos’d. At the End of last June, one Peter Bavidge (who is not yet taken) and – Eccleston (who dy’d last Week in Newgate) carry’d me to the House of Margaret Clap (who is now in the Compter) and there I first became acquainted with the Prisoner. Mrs. Clap’s House was next to the Bunch of Grapes in Field-lane, Holbourn . It bore the publick Character of a Place of Entertainment for Sodomites, and for the better Conveniency of her Customers, she had provided Beds in every Room in her House. She usually had 30 or 40 of such Persons there every Night, but more especially on a Sunday. I was conducted up one pair of Stairs, and by the Perswasions of Bavidge (who was present all the Time) I suffer’d the Prisoner to commit the said Crime. He has attempted the same since that Time, but I never would permit him any more. When Mrs. Clap was taken up, in February last, I went to put in Bail for her; at which Time, Mr. Williams, and Mr. Willis told me, they believ’d I could give Information, which I promis’d to do, and I went next Day, and gave Information accordingly. – Samuel Stephens thus depos’d. Mrs. Clap’s House was notorious for being a Molly-House. – In order to detect some that frequented it, I have been there several Times, and seen 20 or 30 of ’em together, making Love, as they call’d it, in a very indecent Manner. Then they used to go out by Pairs, into another Room, and at their return, they would tell what they had been doing together, which they call’d marrying. The Prisoner acknowledg’d, that he had been several Times at Clap’s House, but never knew that it was a Rendesvouz for such Persons. – He call’d several to his Character. Henry Hoxan thus depos’d. I have kept the Prisoner Company, and served him with Milk these 18 Years, for he is a Milk Man , and I am a Cow-Keeper, I have been with him at the Oxfordshire Feast, and there we have both got drink, and come Home together in a Coach, and yet he never offer’d any such thing to me. Thomas Fuller thus depos’d. The Prisoner married my Daughter, 18 Years ago; She has been dead these 7 Years, and he has a Girl by her, that is 13 Years old. – Several others deposd, that he was a very sober Man, and that they had often been in his Company when he was drunk; but never found him inclinable to such Practices. Guilty . Death . He was a 2d. Time indicted, for committing Sodomy with Mark Partridge , Nov. 10 . But being Convicted of the Former, he was not Try’d for this.

          “The Ordinary’s Account of Gabriel Lawrence.

          Gabriel Lawrence, aged 43 Years, was a Papist, and did not make any particular Confessions to me. He kept the Chapel with the rest for the most part; was always very grave,, and made frequent Responces with the rest, and said the Lord’s Prayer and Creed after me. He owned himself of the Romish Communion; but said, that he had a great Liking to the Church of England, and could communicate with them; but this I would not allow, unless he renounced his Error. He said Newton had perjured himself, and that in all his Life he had never been guilty of that detestable Sin; but that he had liv’d many Years with a Wife who had born several Children, and kept a good sober House. ——
          At the Place of Execution he said, that a certain Person had injured him when he took him before a Justice of the Peace, who committed him, in swearing or affirming, that fifteen Years ago he had been taken up for that unnatural Sin, and that it cost him Twenty Pounds, to get himself free, which, he said, was utterly false; for, ’till this Time, he was never suspected.

          He was hanged at Tyburn, on Monday, May 9, 1726.”

          William Griffin’s Old Bailey Sodomy Trial 20th April 1726

          William Griffin , was indicted for Committing Sodomy with Thomas Newton , May 10 . Thomas Newton thus depos’d. The Prisoner and Thomas Phillips , (who is since absconded,) were Lodgers for near 2 Years at Clap’s House. I went up stairs, while the Prisoner was a Bed, and there he committed the Act with me. Samuel Stevens depos’d, That he had seen the Prisoner, and his Gang at Clap’s House. Guilty . Death .

          “The Ordinary’s Account of William Griffin.

          William Griffin, aged forty-three Years, an Upholsterer by Trade, in Southwark; had, as he said, been a Man of good Business, but, haveing squandered away, or lost his Money, was fallen into Poverty. He denied the Fact for which he died, calling Newton, the Evidence, perjured; and saying, that the abominable Sin was always the Aversion of his Soul; for he had lived many Years with a good virtuous Wife, who had several Children, two of which, a Boy and a Girl, are living; and, he said, both of them behave mighty well, and to the Satisfaction of all concerned with them: And he hop’d that the World would not be so unjust, as to upbraid his poor Children with his unfortunate Death.
          At the Place of Execution, —— Griffin would not own the Commission of that detestable Sin.

          He was hanged at Tyburn, on Monday, May 9, 1726.”

          Thomas Wright’s Old Bailey Sodomite Trial 20th April 1726

          Thomas Wright , was indicted for committing Buggery with Thomas Newton . Jan 10 1724- 5. Thomas Newton thus depos’d. Last January 12 Month, the Prisoner had the Carnal Use of my Body at his own House, in Christophers Alley in Moor-fields : He was a Wooll-Comber by Trade, but he sold a Dram among such Company as came to his House. – He afterwards remov’d to Beech Lane, and there kept Rooms for the entertainment of Sodomites. He sold Ale, but he had it from other Ale-houses: He has often fetch’d me to oblige Company in that way, and especially to one Gregory Turner . William Davison and – Sellars thus depos’d. The discovering of the Molly Houses, was chiefly owing to a Quarrel betwixt Mark Partridge and – Harrington: For upon this Quarrel Partridge to be revenged on Herrington, had blab’d something of the Secret, and afterwards gave a large Information of a great many others. The Mollies had heard something of the first Discovery, but did not imagine how far he had proceeded, and what further Designs he had upon them. – By his means we were introduced to the Company, at the Prisoners Lodging’s. There were 8 or 9 of them in a large Room, one was playing upon a Fiddle, and others were one while dancing in obscene Postures, and other while Singing baudy Songs, and talking leudly, and Acting a great many Indecencies. – But they look’d a skew upon Mark Partridge , and call’d him a treacherous, blowing-up Mollying Bitch, and threatned that they’d Massacre any body that betray’d them . The Prisoner was very fond of us, and kist us all at parting in a most indecent manner, Edward Sanders in behalf of the Prisoner depos’d, That he never heard any such report of the Prisoner before; That he was born and bred at Newbury, and was esteem’d an honest Man, The Jury found him Guilty . Death .

          May 9 – 1726 – Three Men are Publicly Hanged for Sodomy at Tyburn

          The Productive Leisure Network
           Gabriel Lawrence, William Griffin, and Thomas Wright were initially arrested after a raid by authorities at a “molly house” owned by a Margaret Clap. Molly houses were gathering places for homosexual men in eighteenth century England. Since the reign of Henry VIII, homosexual sex between men, better known as “buggery” or “sodomy,” was illegal. On the other hand, its prosecution was varied, and in the early eighteenth century, after the Glorious Revolution and the Hanoverian Succession, the desire to prosecute men on sodomy charges was increased through the Society for the Reformation of Manners. The problem was the actual way to prosecute sodomy, which led to a reliance on informants, who were usually hustlers and male prostitutes who were arrested on other charges. That is how Margaret Clap’s establishment was raided and how evidence was brought against Lawrence, Griffin, and Wright. All three men tried to present some evidence that they had no idea that Clap’s house was a molly house, but the juries didn’t buy it. Thus, they were publicly hanged at Tyburn for the crime of sodomy, a public spectacle which was relatively rare in the history of Britain.

          References