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Alan 1

February 2008

Alan 1, born 1952


Alan talks about his early life and how he married to hide his homosexuality, as much from himself as the world. He talks about cottaging in the late 1970s and early 1980s and being arrested several times. He later left his wife and accepted his sexuality, coming out at the age of forty, in 1992.


Cottaging – 10 20 30
Being Arrested – 10 20
Marriage – 50 60
Birmingham Pride - 80
Psychiatric Treatment for being gay – 30
Homophobia – 100
Being Outed to parents - 60
Sauna Looking Glass – 110
Classification of homosexuality as a disease – 30
Goods and Services Act – 100
Nine/eleven - 110

10 Arrested for cottaging the first time

Alan was a teacher in the Black Country, Wednesbury; he regularly had sex with men in the town centre toilets near the markets. He married whilst at college and tried to tell his wife but she did not want to know. Alan was arrested in the late seventies for cottaging ”I had been married for 18 months and I was arrested by the Police, this fella and I were caught with our hands round each other’s trousers at the urinal. Suddenly two men came out of a cubicle and we thought ’Oh another two!’ but no they weren’t. I was fined and as I was a teacher the education authorities got to find out about it. The fine was a lot; it was £25. It was so much that I could not hide it from my wife and had to tell her about it.”

20 Arrested for Cottaging the second time

Alan’s wife stayed with him but he continued his secret life and was arrested again a year later ”I was in a public toilet in Carters Green, West Bromwich. This time the policeman was posing as a member of the public. I did not think I’d gone far enough to be arrested but I had and was again fined. This time the NUT (National Union of Teachers) got involved and they suggested that if I went to a psychiatrist and said I was trying to get this sorted out they would not fine me.”

30 Psychiatric Treatment

Alan recalls getting psychiatric treatment for his homosexual urges in the early 80’s as a way of avoiding a fine for cottaging ”So I went to a psychiatrist at All Saints (now part of Winson Green Prison), a Mr Imlah an elderly Scot. He said there was nothing wrong with me but he could put me on a course of psychology to deal with my behaviour. They monitored my thoughts and gave me brownie points if I did the right thing; they also offered me aversion therapy! One of the things I was told to do was to go and buy straight porn magazines, I had no idea where to go but I’d noticed a place on Summer Row in Birmingham. I psyched up my self and went to the door, but could not, went and had a cup of coffee and went back. Boy was it seedy, there were boxes with the magazines in and they were also wrapped in plastic so you could not read them. The first heading I saw was ‘Gay’, I picked a cheap one without looking at it, when I got home I’d picked up a straight bondage magazine!“

“In the end I went to court and they ignored the fact I’d been to a psychologist and fined me £25 anyway, the education authorities also warned me if I did it again I would be out of a job. I did not cottage again for 12 years and really behaved myself, my wife was also very controlling. In a way I was fortunate as AIDS came along.”

40 Coming to terms with being gay

In the early to mid 1990s, Alan’s relationship with his wife was not a good one, she was very controlling and he did not cottage for a while. He was made redundant from teaching and got himself a travelling salesman’s job and then began to cottage again. During this time he met a man called Robin, whom he began a year’s affair with. Unfortunately in 1995 the man died and his wife questioned him about the affair on the day of the funeral, it was now he decided that life was too short and he actually was gay.

50 Marriage Break-up

He and his wife’s relationship got worse and Alan also met another man, John, who he is still with now. His wife in the meantime asked him to leave their house “eventually she said ‘I want you to move out’ . I had been waiting for this, I said ‘fine’. So I phoned John and we went to look at bedsits, eventually I found a bedsit and made arrangements to move in. I went and told my wife and she said ‘I didn’t mean now I meant August’. She was a teacher and it suited her to have me there until then. I moved out anyway.”

60 Coming out

Alan’s ex wife was very bitter, she had threatened to tell his parents he was gay and followed it through when they divorced. He says his parents were fine with him and even accepted his male partner, who they get on with better with than his ex wife. Sadly though his son wants no contact with him.

70 Going to the gay scene in Wolverhampton

Alan’s partner will not go on the gay scene, although Alan was curious and started to go to the White Hart in Wolverhampton, after 3 months of going people began to speak to him.

80 Birmingham Pride

Alan volunteered for the second Birmingham Pride in 1998 and was a marshall on a barrier. He volunteered for 2 hours and ended up staying for 10 hours as he enjoyed it so much. “Pride is so important to me, that people coming out, people who are not sure, people from miles away have somewhere to come where there are other gay people around and they can try it out and feel alright.”

90 Groups Alan is involved with

Alan has been involved with various gay groups who he says have helped him a lot as he wanted to know more about being gay, these include Wolverhampton LGB Police Forum and Birmingham LGB Police Forum.

100 Homophobia

“Some years ago I travelled around the country frequently, one time I had to go to Chester in about 2000, so I decided to book a room in advance and take John with me. I called a hotel and booked a double room with one bed, the lady said they had room until I confirmed it was for two men sharing a bed, suddenly she said they were fully booked.”

110 Sauna on 9/11/2001

Alan mentions going to a sauna “some years ago now the Looking Glass was open, a tatty hole of a sauna in Birmingham. I went and nobody wanted to play, all they wanted to do was watch the television. I thought why have you come here to watch the television. I left feeling quite dejected and driving home I switched on the radio and heard about two planes crashing into tall buildings in New York.”