Monday, 18 November 2013

10 years without Section 28!

Today is the 10th anniversary of the repeal of the invidious Section 28.

On 24 May 1988, after a lot of deeply unpleasant rhetoric by the right-wing press and many politicians (who were largely of a Tory persuasion), the Thatcher government brought into law Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 which added Section 2A to the Local Government Act 1986 (affecting England, Wales and Scotland, but not, interestingly, Northern Ireland). The amendment said that a local authority "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship".

It was repealed on 21 June 2000 in Scotland as one of the first pieces of legislation enacted by the new Scottish Parliament, but the rest of Great Britain had to wait until 18 November 2003, when it was repealed by section 122 of the Local Government Act 2003.

One of our recent posts provides links to material discussing the history and legacy of this detestable piece of legislation:

There is currently a great deal of comment online about the lasting legacy of Section 28:
Tom Hayes, editor-in-chief of beyondpositive, an online magazine for people living with HIV in the UK, gives a personal perspective:

After a poll by Mumsnet found that 99% of gay teens have heard homophobic language and a report by Bernardo's Cymru that 58% of Welsh schoolchildren have witnessed homophobic bullying, Stonewall has launched a new campaign to give schools, teachers and young people the tools they need to challenge homophobic language:

The need for this is made clearer by the report today that an inquest has found that 14-year-old Ayden Keenan-Olson took his own life. He left two suicide notes saying how he could no longer cope with the homophobic and racist bullying he experienced at school.

There is some goods news too, however. OFSTED school inspectors are now investigating whether schools they visit are fighting anti-gay bullying and teaching about same-sex families:
now investigating whether schools they visit are fighting anti-gay bullying and teaching about same-sex families. - See more at:
now investigating whether schools they visit are fighting anti-gay bullying and teaching about same-sex families. - See more at:
now investigating whether schools they visit are fighting anti-gay bullying and teaching about same-sex families. - See more at:
Sexual orientation and gender identity (well, 'gender reassignment') are referred to throughout the current OFSTED school inspection handbook:

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The UpStairs Lounge Fire

On Sunday 24th June 1973, 28 people died in a fire in a bar in New Orleans, with four more people dying from their burns in the following days. It was quickly established that this was a case of arson.

The Advocate has posted an article about what it calls the 'worst mass killing of LGBT people in US history':
Patrons of the UpStairs Lounge

There are a number of upsetting aspects to this story:
  • Because this happened in a 'queer bar', some of the contemporary reporting was quite hateful - and there was the 'joke' told by a local radio jockey: “What will they bury the ashes of queers in? Fruit jars.”
  • Some of the victims had children who waited decades before learning how and why one of their parents died.
  • Four bodies were never identified, no one ever came forward to claim them. They were buried in a pauper's grave.
  • It seems highly likely that the arsonist was a hustler who had been thrown out of the bar shortly before the fire started for aggressive and drunken behaviour. He may or may not have been gay himself, but was well known to the patrons of the bar.
  • Unlike with other, similar events of the time, the local authorities made no attempt to mark the tragedy.
While this may not be very surprising, - we are, after all, talking about the early 1970s at the very beginnings of  the gay rights movement, even in the US - it has taken almost 40 years for the story to become more widely known and acknowledged.

This link is to an online exhibit which "weaves artifacts from the time into a vivid historical account of this tragedy and memorializes those who perished":

Monday, 11 November 2013

Polari... again!

I recently tried to link to the online version of the Polari Bible, once hosted by the Manchester chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and the link I had failed. :o(

I'm pleased to say that today I found out that the 5th edition of the Polari Bible is now available online here:
Back online
again when I checked on 21 January 2016.


UPDATED: 21 January 2016
If you can't get the previous link to work, you can probably still download the whole Polari Bible (5th edition) as a 10Mb pdf from:

According to the history set out in the preface to this edition:

Work on the original King James Bible began early in the 17th century, and it has become a watchword for the majesty and power of its language. Vulgarising it by translating it in to Polari would be an act of cultural vandalism akin to translation in to Scots. But good taste has never yet fettered the Sisters' activities, so we did it anyway.

Besides a phrase like Rom 6:23 -
For the parkering ninty of kertever is carking it* - has a beauty and majesty all of its very own.

* For those of you who are less than fluent in Polari: 'For the wages of sin is death.'

Progress was regularly interrupted by such mundane things as the Polari Mission's project members having to earn a living. However, it is now available for your perusal once more.

Note also that Bona Eek! – The Polari Mission exhibition is on until February 2014 (free!) at the John Ryland’s Library in Manchester (150 Deansgate, M3 3EH).

Other links: - The Abbey of St Joan in Seattle - London - Edinburgh - Sydney