The shadowy, twilight world of the homosexual was already a cliche and mainstream joke on TV by the late 1970s

In the midst of the hysteria surrounding the TV series “It’s A Sin”, many articles have been published about what gay life was like in the 1980s. Supposedly… 

In those days many of us gay men were out and proud and we didn’t seem to face much homophobia personally. If we did, we tended to laugh it off. It was all about living your best life, being happy, confident, healthy and strong and being part and proud of a worthwhile community.

AIDS did have an enormous impact initially, when we weren’t even sure how it was spread. I can remember having a drink in The Rembrandt and wondering whether HIV could be transmitted by a dirty glass. That wasn’t through ignorance of the facts, as it would be now; in 1983 experts still weren’t sure how HIV was transmitted or why it led to AIDS. 

But, by 1984 or 85 we knew how to protect ourselves (with a condom) and most of us did. Everyone had their own experience of course, but many of the gloomy articles don’t ring true to me. It’s odd. 

By the late 1970s the idea of gay life being a twilight world in which we scurried about in the shadows was already such a cliche that it was used as a joke in the BBC TV series “The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.”

David Ellison in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin

In the episode, Reggie hosts a self-help group at his “therapy commune” because Doc Morrissey, the resident psychiatrist, has “had to go and see a psychiatrist”. Reggie asks if anyone in the group has a problem they would like to talk about. 

“I’m a raving poof,” one man blurts out. There’s no disgrace in that, replies Reggie, who stops short of repeating the “P” word out of politeness. The man goes on to explain that yes there is “if you own a small factory in The Potteries.

“It’s bad for trade in The Potteries if you’re widely known as a ‘jessie’,” he says.

What makes this even funnier in retrospect is that the factory owner is played by the actor David Ellison. A few years later he became better known as the gruff police sergeant Joseph Beck in “Juliet Bravo.”

David Ellison in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin

“And so I lead a double life of sad deception,” he continues. “By day solid businessman — pillar of the Rotary Club. By night a shadowy figure in the gay clubs of the Five Towns.”

So having self-identified as a “raving poof” the man goes on to talk about himself in these hackneyed terms.

“Well done,” says Reggie. The next patient is an insurance salesman and it’s hinted that this is worse than being a homosexual and needs a cure. 

The reason the audience laughs is because by 1978 the factory owner’s story was already a well-worn and outdated cliche about being gay. And to get a laugh it had to be something that a mainstream BBC audience recognised.  Just think about that…

But 43 years after this was broadcast, people, including those in gay organisations, continue to peddle the idea that this was the everyday reality of gay life in the 1980s and even the early 1990s. And, whereas TV moved on from cliched gays, nowadays “our own” like nothing more than a good stereotype if it brings in a bit of funding.

So they tell the public and doctors that we’re more likely to be mentally ill, a drug user or an alcoholic and at least some of this seems to be based on dubious research. They do it because there’s money to be made from sympathy seeking, pandering to stereotypes and playing up tragedy and victimhood. It’s unhealthy.  

Watching this in the 1980s I don’t recall being offended by the use of the phrase “raving poof.” Being offended and triggered, instead of brushing it off and laughing (at something that is very funny), is another part of the current culture of victimhood. It isn’t progress. 


20 years after the first broadcast – exclusive photos of Queer As Folk on location on Canal Street

It’s 20 years since the broadcast of the first episode of Queer As Folk on Channel 4. I shot these photographs later that year as the crew filmed the final episode of the second series on Canal Street in Manchester.

As they did,the weather changed and there was a tremendous rain shower.

Queer As Folk series 2 on location on Canal Street, Manchester in 1999Queer As Folk series 2 on location on Canal Street, Manchester in 1999Queer As Folk series 2 on location on Canal Street, Manchester in 1999Queer As Folk series 2 on location on Canal Street, Manchester in 1999

On location on Canal Street, Autumn 1999.

I worked as an extra on another episode which was fun. I haven’t seen any other location shots over the last two decades, so I may have the only ones. Thanks to LGBTv of Manchester which paid to include one of these in a recent video.

Sorry about the large watermarks but light-fingered people will not leave photographs alone these days and unfortunately that leads to this. Since the beginning of the year I’ve had to go after two broadcasters, two newspapers, two websites, Twitter and Facebook.

You’re very welcome to link to this web page.


MP for Brighton misleads TV viewers about the PrEP Impact Trial in England

Last month Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the Labour Member of Parliament for Brighton Kemptown, appeared on the ITV show “Lorraine.” During the interview he stated that the NHS PrEP Impact Trial was “now full” in England. That was completely untrue.

The PrEP Impact Trial website

I’m uncertain of the exact day of the interview but ITV published it on their YouTube page on 16 January 2019. You can hear Mr Russell-Moyle say it in the video at 4 mins 35 secs. (more…)


Is a pressure cooker a worthwhile buy?

A couple of years ago I bought a pressure cooker. I got it direct from the manufacturers Prestige (I have no connection with them) and opted for the 6 litre high dome model. Currently that’s on offer from them for £45 and, barring a really exceptional special offer somewhere, I doubt you’ll find it for much less.

Prestige 6L high dome pressure cooker

Seen here on my classic 1970s Creda Carefree cooker.

This was a bit of step into the unknown for me as I didn’t grow up in a pressure-cooker-using family, In fact growing up in the north-east I can’t remember ever seeing one. Were they perceived as being a bit middle-class and southern?

So they remained mysterious hissing things. A bit frightening, perhaps even dangerous? There were those rumours of food on ceilings… (more…)


Leaving Manchester. Discussing Legends, power, Gay Village and a hurt city

A video from Manchester Shield which really sums up Manchester currently. The corruption, drab inappropriate development and poor-quality shifty politicians.

The only part I perhaps disagree with is that the gay village can be saved. I don’t think so. Since the 1990s it has been a marketing scam designed to enclose and exploit us. Far better to consign it to history and have gay businesses spread across the city, the way things used to be.


Home-made ice cream

I made ice cream a couple of times this summer and it turned out well. It tastes much nicer than some of the supermarket products and involves just a handful of ingredients.

Home-made ice cream

I followed this recipe from Mary Berry on Good Afternoon in 1973.

It’s just eggs, double cream, icing sugar and whatever flavouring you want. For one tub I used some strong coffee as she suggests and the juice from some brambles that I picked for the other.

I found the ice cream needs more than two hours in the freezer. The photo above shows it after two hours and you can see it isn’t frozen completely.

For subsequent batches I experimented using single cream and even putting some milk in. The result is less rich than with double cream, but perfectly acceptable.

Although it involves raw eggs the NHS says this is safe. However it writes that infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people should stick to eggs that are produced under the British Lion Code of Practice.

I’m lucky enough to have my own hens at the top of the garden.