Sunday, 21 October 2012

459: Gay Politics: Dressing to the Left

Obviously the big gay political movement of the 1970s was the fight for civil rights aka Gay Lib which began at the end of 1969. Independent of the activists involved in Gay Lib, homosexuality began to appear as an issue of concern to nice liberal heterosexual folks. But as part of a political programme, homosexuality was most readily incorporated within the broad array of issues proclaimed by the post-hippie Radical Left (aka New left in America). Homosexuality was a part of political platforms which included diversity, feminism, gender equality, minority-rights and strident non-racism. Heady radical stuff, you’ll agree. Or wholly unrealistic, preposterous, pie-in-the-sky demands proposed by anti-social types who felt that government should be lavishing the public purse on irrelevant grievances if you’re of a more conservative disposition. So: a concern for homosexuality was a shortcut to portraying leftist politics as ludicrous by association.

By David Langdon
Punch, 24 September 1975

These would be protestors outside the annual Conservative Party Conference. The newspaper vendors are the opposite of moderate, but the person holding “Gay News” doesn’t appear to gay as such.

from Auberon Waugh’s Diary
“Private Eye”, 9 December 1977

There’s a certain amount of accompanying style from Waugh here, but it’s really just the well-worn conceit that a gay worker would only be a hairdresser. A brief knock at literary/political freeloaders, leftists, and homosexuals in the Waugh manner.

by David Austin
Spectator, 27 June, 1981

The Left’s obsessive concern with gender roles and issues over practical matters.

Illustration by John Johnsen
“Punch”, 17 March 1982

To accompany an article “”Spring Diary of a Social Worker”, who by the turn of the decade were seen as the local government-employed shock troops of leftist socio-political engineering. Even the socialist alternative comedian Alexei Sayle had his joke: “Help a deprived inner city child. Kill a social worker”. The homsoexuals holding the banner appear to be a curious mix of New romnatic, Gay 90s dandies, and Radcliffe Hall butch tweedy lesbians

Out of gay political groups came numerous short-lived magazines and publishing endeavours. The public might be aware of the existence of this sort of minority-interest stuff, but no specific title or approach is going to make a massive impression on general consciousness. So you can’t specifically parody a particular author or title. They fall too far below the radar. However, it is the gay-positive content in other leftist magazines that will make the general populace aware of gay issues and give a forum for gay voices, lifestyles and activities. There are lots of feminist and leftist journals, but as they solely political magazines they have a limited audience. The most famous example of such a magazine in the UK is “Time Out”. “Time Out” was a listing magazine, detailing the weekly events in London, and so its functionality meant that its readers encountered the leftist political life of London. Hence these two parodies of “Time Out” make much out of the gay oriented content of the magazine.

“Private Eye”, 5 June 1981

“Private Eye”, 28 August 1981

Readers with incredibly retentive memories will note that that in these two parodies there’s a lot of cross-over with the parodies attacking the irrelevant, wastefulness, social rebalancing by Ken Livingstone and the 1980s GLC (Greater London Council). I already covered a lot of those satirical attacks that used GLC’s support of homosexuality against it (20 different bits starting here). But here are a couple more from Michael Heath’s “The Gays” strip:

“Private Eye”, 23 October 1981

“Private Eye”, 26 February 1982

“Private Eye”, 11 March 1983

“Private Eye”, 6 May 1983

And let’s just round out with a silly sexual / political pun.

Spectator, 4 September 1982

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