Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Cottaging and Cruising in the Capital

(aka ‘Bogs, Bushes & Buggers’)
Wednesday 13 February 2013 at Bishopsgate Library, in association with LAGNA (the Lesbian & Gay Newsmedia Archive)

Was it the title, do you think, that made this event a sell out? Who knows, but it was very well attended.

Sadly, Dr Matt Houlbrook ( was unable to attend, so we didn’t hear what he had to say on the historical evidence for cottaging. But Peter, a LAGNA volunteer, entertained us with a few newspaper clippings showing how stressed suburbanites can become at the idea of goings on at the local gentlemen’s public toilet.

Then Mark Simpson, writer, journalist and rather handsome daddy of the metrosexual, talked to us briefly about his own experiences of cottaging (with a nostalgic smile on his lips) before going to his main theme - the misreporting by the press of men caught in the act. He referred to a particularly jumbled bit of reporting by pretty much all the UK newspapers in October 2007. ‘Firemen expose gay doggers’, was how The Sun headlined it.

Mark went on to show that almost all the purported facts were, in fact, not facts at all. Not that the Press Complaints Commission felt able to say so.

The first link is to Mark’s blogpost at the time, which tells you everything you need to know about the case. The next two links take you to a couple of the articles concerned, from The Daily Mail and The Sun (which Mark says was probably the least inaccurate of the lot, including the broadsheets!).

This link is to the Winter 2007 edition of Flagship, a magazine for LGBT members of the Fire Brigade Union. See page 2 - they’re quite clear that everyone within the fire brigade knew the reports were nonsense.

This was the second of a series of talks on queer topics, as part of the Bishopgate Institute’s Live and Let Louche in the Library season. The remaining two are:-

PERFORMING QUEER - Life and Art in Noughties London
Wednesday 13th March 2013, 7-9pm
The turn of the millennium saw a new type of queer expression take root in London clubland. Inspired by a range of figures from Leigh Bowery to Judith Butler, club kids became artists, performing, disrupting and dismantling traditional models of sexuality and gender. Ingo (Wotever) and Holestar (Hot Laser) will discuss their involvement in queer performance art over the last decade and its impact on LGBT life in London.

Wednesday 24th April 2013, 7-9pm

Though lesbian sex was never illegal, it wasn't until the gay rights and women's liberation movements of the early 1970s that lesbians began to socialise openly. How did women meet each other in the days before identity politics brought them together, and how did the lesbian scene evolve 1980s and 1990s? Alternative historian and performer Rose Collis will explore the social activities of pre- and post-war lesbians in London, Brighton and beyond. Louise Carolin, Deputy Editor of Diva magazine, will reflect on lesbian nightlife in the 1980s-90s.
Both are at the Bishopsgate Institute Library (230 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 4QH). Doors open at 6.30pm, entry is free - but you are advised to book in advance

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