Monday, November 23, 2020

The two guys in the foreground seem quite chummy 
in this 19th Century photo provided by Larry K.



  1. 19th century men were more comfortable with intimacy.

    1. Yes. In fact, up to the end of WWII men were less scared of it.

  2. Yes, physical expression of male intimacy was indeed far more common in the past, certainly in the late-Victorian period when photography came into its own - and, like the early years of the internet, was largely unregulated.

    However, certainly in England, the gathering intolerance of homosexuality changed a lot of accepted behaviour.

    The Labouchere Amendment to the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885, drove a lot of customs and freedoms underground.

    In 1885, homosexuality was only illegal in regard to the act of buggery, for which the punishment was to be kept in penal servitude for life. This changed when Henry Labouchere, Liberal MP for Northampton and strong opponent of homosexuality, introduced Section 11 of the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act which made all homosexual acts of ‘gross indecency' illegal. The bill was primarily concerned with the protection of women and girls by increasing the age of consent [to 16 years, raising it from 12 - the male age of consent for heterosexual acts remaining at 14] and yet this small section in the Act was a pivotal change in homosexual legislation. Unusually, this section was passed during a late night debate in the House of Commons with only a few MPs present. It was under this Act that Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing, among many others, were convicted and punished for committing homosexual acts.

    Until this, it was acceptable for men to kiss in public in greeting and to walk arm-in-arm - in some of the exclusive public schools, it was an expected "privilege" for boys in the senior school, justified under the wave of the Classical Revival as being "Platonic" - and male nudity in public was also quite usual. The Act put a stop to all this as the clinical notion of "homosexuality" emerged with other horrors to ensue.

    It took until the mid-1970s for full-frontal male photography to be legalized, but the membrum virile had to be in a flaccid state. The Sexual Offences Act of 2006 legalized all male expressions of intimacy and affection within the definition of "public decency" as provided for in the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

    We were finally free.