Homes Fit for Homos: Joe Orton’s Queer Domestic

  • Matt Cook
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


Geoffrey Fisher, the new post-war Archbishop of Canterbury, called on Britons to reject ‘war time morality’ and return to living ‘Christian lives’.1 His words encapsulate a rearguard attempt to awaken supposed pre-war moral certainties in the quest for national renewal. The war, though, had changed things irrevocably. Men and women had seen and experienced things which accelerated social, cultural and attitudinal shifts already underway in the interwar period.2 Postwar demographics provided further impetus: there was a sharp rise (of 20 per cent) in the number of teenagers in the late 1950s and 1960s as the baby boomer generation came of age.3 This fed a growing and more visible youth culture shaking up apparently established and establishment attitudes and widening the generation gap.4 Single mothers, those living ‘in sin’, homosexuals and prostitutes, were still judged harshly, and many felt terrible isolation.5 There was nevertheless a sense of things changing.6 The 1950s and 1960s saw a determined push for homosexual law reform voiced in film and literature, in some landmark sociology (like Michael Schofield’s), in the work of the Homosexual Law Reform Society (from 1958), and in the recommendations of the Church of England (1954) and of the Wolfenden Committee (1957).7 Though many homosexual men certainly experienced the 1950s as an especially harsh decade,8 there was not the broad moral consensus that has often been assumed.


Literary Critic Sexual Offence Domestic Life Baby Boomer Generation Interwar Period 
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Copyright information

© Matt Cook 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matt Cook
    • 1
  1. 1.Birkbeck CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

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