Love Law and Liberty is a new exhibition at the British Library to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act of 1967, which partly decriminalised homosexuality in England and Wales (not Scotland who had to wait till 1980) From the 1895 trial of Oscar Wilde to the gay liberation of today it offers a fascinating array of diaries, pamphlets and original manuscripts: Kenneth Williams’ diary entry of 9 August 1967 about the murder of his friend, playwright Joe Orton; the script of A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney from 1958 with her rendering of an authentic gay character. Recorded interviews deepen the experience- such as that with Jonathan Blake, the first person to be diagnosed HIV in Britain in the 1980s. (And gloriously played by Dominic West in the film, Pride about the mutual support of miners and gays) The first deaths from HIV were noted in 1982 but the ghastly goverment pamphlet Don’t Die of Ignorance only dropped onto our doormats in 1987.
Declaration of interest – my own book, Scarlet Ribbons, A Priest with AIDS, (1997) about my brother Rev Simon Bailey,is to be re-published in July. (http://jorvikpress.com/books/scarlet-ribbons)
And I’ll just leave this here – from the National Archives (not in the exhibition)
Margaret Thatcher’s annotations regarding proposed newspaper adverts (catalogue reference: PREM 19/1863)
‘Do we have to have the section on risky sex? I should have thought it could do immense harm if young teenagers were to read it’.