An introduction to gay culture

On a trip to London in the 1980s, David learns about gay culture from Capital Gay newspaper.

Duration 01:55


At the age of 17, and I was politically active at that point, I went down to London with my mother and sister and an exchange student from France. And because I used to live in and around London and I knew the London Underground very well, my parent – my mother was quite happy for me to go off on my own, so I did. And on the evening of the last day we were there, I got on an Underground train in an empty carriage, and while I was sitting there I glanced across at these newspapers that were lying there, and I kept seeing the word ‘gay’, and it said, ‘Capital Gay’. And I thought, well, it can’t mean gay, y’know, in the sense homosexual, it probably just means happy, jolly, you know, sort of free magazine for nice things that are happening in London, so I picked one up – I realised very quickly that it was a gay magazine, ok, newspaper, it was the first gay publication that I’d ever read. And there wasn’t just one, there were copies going back for weeks and weeks. And I’d grabbed all of these, took them back to the room that we were, that I was staying in and put them at the bottom of my suitcase and took them back to York. And then, surreptitiously I would go through every single page of every single newspaper and write down on a postcard, in very small writing, any information I thought was relevant. So, I heard that there was a group called the London Gay Teenage Group, so I’d never been to a youth club before, let alone a gay youth club, so that was interesting. And there was a National Lesbian and Gay Youth Movement, which I was unaware of, and then there were all these gay bars and all these gay clubs, and there was a gay bookshop called Gay’s the Word bookshop.