Censorship, Sex and Our Way of Life
We do it all the time. Watch porn or drool over hard-dicked, cheeks-spread pics on line or on our phone and even order boy toys to spice up our bedroom antics and never think wise. We have our own club districts and circuit parties and festival events like the White Party here in Miami or the International Mister Leather Contest in Chicago or the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco and by the crowds of sweaty men you’d think the whole world had gone gay. Meanwhile same sex marriage is on the books of most states and the way it’s looking, probably will be the law of the land by spring’s end.
Well, guess what? In the lifetime of many of us, it was a whole different world.
The first historic crack in the dam came with books like “The Tropic of Cancer,” a wild novel by Henry Miller written back in the thirties but banned for publication or sale in the US for its “obscenities” until the Supreme Court in 1961 ruled against all the naysayers and Bible Belters.
Interestingly, it was actually a few years before that that “One” won its own day in court. First published in L.A. as a self- described “magazine for homosexuals” which was more literary than illicit in tone, “One” went through a series of its own court tests. Again, and this may be hard for you under 30’s to believe, but homosexuality was illegal in the entire country and just writing about two men in love was a crime. (As you know, I write gay erotic fiction so who knows, it might have been more fun being thrown into prison then beg a guy on line. Just joking.) It would take the law and its view on our behavior decades to change, but in 1957 the Supreme Court ruled “there is no way proper to describe a love affair between two homosexuals as constituting obscenity.”
If you wanna get a taste of what it was like back in the day, check TCM or Netflix for the 1961 British film, “Victim,” historic for its blatant theme of homosexuality and the fact it was the first film to actually use the word in dialogue. For that it was banned in the U.S for years and almost didn’t see the light of day in its home country. (One of the lines of dialogue the censors wanted cut but failed to from Dirk Bogarde, a lead character who hide his gay side in real life: “I wanted him.”)
The film focuses on prominent and not so prominent Brits who closeted their homosexuality since it was illegal in Britain at the time and would lead to not only a prison term but the death of their professional careers. Besides crashing cinema closet doors, “Victim” helped to change the laws in Great Britain and no doubt helped plant the seeds of equal rights we enjoy today.
So the next time you bitch about some flake who stood you up on “Scruff,” just remember it could be a lot worse – ‘cause it was.
My thanks to Fort Lauderdale’s weekly newspaper, “Agenda” and its article about the “One” saga that inspired me to write this blog.