Queer 1950s pp 167-182 | Cite as

Queer Profits: Homosexual Scandal and the Origins of Legal Reform in Britain

  • Justin Bengry
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


On 25 May 1952, Sunday Pictorial readers awoke to dire warnings of ‘male degenerates’ infesting not only London’s West End but even provincial centres throughout the country. So many ‘normal people’ had already been infected by this menace that it ceased to be simply a medical issue associated with a ‘glandular disorder’. It was now a danger so potent that it threatened the very fabric of the British state. Before the war, there had apparently been over one million known homosexuals, readers were alerted, but ‘both numbers and percentage have grown steeply since then’. The final instalment in the series asked who was to blame. Parents themselves, it declared, were too often ‘responsible for their children growing up to be perverted’.1


Sexual Offence Legal Reform Royal Commission Express Writer Press Coverage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 3.
    Patrick Higgins, Heterosexual Dictatorship: Male Homosexuality in Postwar Britain (London: Fourth Estate, 1996), 267.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Jeffrey Weeks, ‘Capitalism and the Organization of Sex’, in Gay Left Collective, ed., Homosexuality: Power and Politics (London: Allison and Busby, 1980), 11–20.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    John, D’Emilio, ‘Capitalism and Gay Identity’, in Ann Snitow, Christine Stansell and Sharon Thompson, eds, The Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1983), 100–113.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    For example, see: Chauncey A, Gay New York; Matt Cook, London and the Culture of Homosexuality 1885–1914, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003);Google Scholar
  5. D’Emilio, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities; Hugh David, On Queer Street: A Social History of British Homosexuality (London: HarperCollins, 1997);Google Scholar
  6. Matt Houlbrook, Queer London; Marc Stein, City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves: Lesbian and Gay Philadelphia, 1945–1972 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004).Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    See Katherine Sender, Business, NotPolitics: The Making of the Gay Market (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004);Google Scholar
  8. Daniel L. Wardlow, Gays, Lesbians, and Consumer Behavior: Theory, Practice, and Research Issues in Marketing (New York: Haworth, 1996).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    See M.V. Lee Badgett, Money, Myths, and Change: The Economic Lives of Lesbians and Gay Men (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001);Google Scholar
  10. Steven Kates, Twenty Million New Customers! Understanding Gay Men’s Consumer Behavior (New York: Haworth Press, 1998);Google Scholar
  11. Grant Lukenbill, Untold Millions: Secret Truths About Marketing to Gay and Lesbian Consumers (New York: Harrington Park Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  12. 10.
    See Alexandra Chasin, Selling Out: The Gay and Lesbian Movement Goes to Market (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000);Google Scholar
  13. Rosemary Hennessey, Profit and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in Late Capitalism (New York: Routledge, 2000).Google Scholar
  14. 11.
    On the history of syphilis in Britain since the 1920s, see Richard Davenport-Hines, Sex, Death and Punishment: Attitudes to Sex and Sexuality in Britain since the Renaissance (London: Fontana Press, 1991), 245–285.Google Scholar
  15. 13.
    Sunday Pictorial, 1–31 July 1949. Adrian Bingham, ‘The “K-Bomb”: Social Surveys, the Popular Press, and British Sexual Culture in the 1940s and 1950s’, Journal of British Studies, 50.1 (January 2011), 156–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 14.
    Gillian Swanson, Drunk with the Glitter: Space, Consumption and Sexual Instability in Modern Urban Culture (London: Routledge, 2007).Google Scholar
  17. 15.
    Hugh Cudlipp, At Your Peril (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1962), 56.Google Scholar
  18. 26.
    ‘M.P. Changes Plea to “Not Guilty”’, News of the World, 11 January 1953. On this and the Montagu case, see H. Montgomery Hyde, The Other Love: An Historical and Contemporary Survey of Homosexuality in Britain (London: Heinemann, 1970), 216–226.Google Scholar
  19. 32.
    Edward Montagu, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, Wheels Within Wheels: An Unconventional Life (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2000), 100–102.Google Scholar
  20. 38.
    Peter Wildeblood, Against the Law (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1955), 31.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Heike Bauer and Matt Cook 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin Bengry

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations