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Then and now 50s and today


“I don’t think the youngsters (now) have as much fun as we did ‘in the good old days’ (1950s and 1960s), to be quite honest, because, maybe it’s an age thing, maybe it’s just the looking-glass and the polished mirrors and what have you but when we went out on Saturday nights we would dress up to go out, we’d make a real effort and perhaps before we went out we’d go and have dinner somewhere or we’d have friends round for dinner and then we’d all three or four or ten of us would go out and I think we probably had more fun than (the younger) generation do.  But then I don’t think anything else has changed, if you don’t allow standards to drop and don’t accept second best.  If you don’t agree with something say so.”


“I would say that gay men now are more effeminate than they were twenty or thirty years ago but I was always effeminate, in fact so much so and John had grave doubts about our relationship lasting because I used to stand at the bus stop waiting for the bus to come with my hand on my hip and I always did it and I still do it now but it’s not made any difference to my life at all.  I think nowadays the youth is more one-sided really, that they’re not top or bottoms, they are both which is very good, very good.  Not just to be one.  I was one (bottom) for oh, fifteen years with John until I realised that there’s more to life than being one.”

Rising prices

“Prices in the bars are absolutely appalling.  I can’t go on about getting on the tram with a penny and fish and chips and take the girlfriend to the cinema and still have change, but I think the prices are absolutely astronomical and even more so in gay bars.  And all these gay bar owners have these fabulous palaces in Spain so they could put back; I think maybe there’s a niche somewhere where some of this money should come back because this is where the pink pound is and the pink pound is very important.  The same applies in San Francisco but in most of San Francisco, even in the Castro, the bars are clean and the toilets are clean and the standards are good.  They have as many dark rooms as Birmingham does, not that I go into dark rooms, it’s not something I do, but I think the youth is losing out a bit by accepting lower standards. That’s why you got the impression about the bars in New Street, they were elegant, mostly elegant bars, not tat.”


“I don’t think I can see myself in any of the young men I see today. I’m not alienated by anything that’s gay, anything that’s gay is my life anyway.  But anything that actually reduces the amount of work we’ve done over the last forty years has got to be frowned on really.”

Contributed by: Robin McGarry, 66

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