In Queer City Peter Ackroyd looks at London in a whole new way – through the story of its gay population. In Roman Londinium the city was dotted with lupanaria (‘wolf dens’ or public pleasure houses), fornices (brothels) and thermiae (hot baths). Then came the Emperor Constantine, with his bishops, monks and missionaries. And so began an endless loop of permissiveness and censure.
Ackroydtakes us right into the hidden history of the city, from the notorious Normans to the frenzy of executions for sodomy in the early nineteenth century.
The Second World War turned the role of the upside down, but in the sixties, “Lillie Law” still frequented all the haunts, from the coffee bars of Soho to the notorious Biograph – or Bio-Grope- cinema in Victoria. he seventies brought Gay Liberation and disco music, but then the horror of AIDS arrived, and the of Queer fortune turned yet again
Today we live in an era of her increasing openness and era cane and Queer London has become part of the new norm. Ackroyd tells us the story of how it got there, celebrating its diversity, thrills and energy on the one hand, but reminding us of its. Sry real terrors, dangers and risks on the other.
Peter Ackroyd has written a brilliantly well informed book about gar London from Roman times to the present day. He helps us to see just how very prevelant gay sex was in Roman times and that it went from the very top right the way down to the very bottom of society. To realise that the prevelance of Queer activity within London was as prevelant as it was is a real eye opener. You just never realised how much Queer life is interspaced with the life within the city that is considered as straight. Although I have never understood the desire that people have to rabidly stick labels on themselves. I’m as guilty as the next person. I’ve done it too. I came out as Bisexual a while back. One wonders why we all seem to have this desire to label. Anyway, back to discussing this awesome book. The book starts off with discussing the origins of the words gay and Queer. I absolutely love language and the origin of words and how they develop.
Sodomy was a well used term in the eleventh century but was used as an umbrella term that covers many expressions. Ackroyd has a very well researched subject matter and an excellently worded history for Queer culture throughout the ages. By the end of chapter one, you will never look at a radish the same way ever again!
You realise during chapter two that practices that would be viewed as abhorrent by the vast majority of society today where then freely done and not condemned.
The book moves through the ages extremely easily and shows that homosexuality bore little to no prejudice in Roman times, but as the years go by, it becomes very easy to track the rising patter of prejudice throughout the centuries.
We can see the changes, both negative and positive, and how they have shaped society right up to the present day.
A highly informative and very well written book. A five out of five star read.