A LGBT Community History Project


Contact Us

OurStoryLiverpool

News

Links

Workshops

Drama

Reminiscences

Interviews





Joe



So, it’s nineteen seventy nine and in my non celebrity life I was on holiday in Scarborough and the Grumbleweeds were doing summer season. (A successful, mainstream comedy act). We were all typically miserable and queuing for tickets in the Futurist theatre foyer. There I was, minding my own business and fantasising about having my own show, when a Grumbleweed suddenly appeared. He sidled over to the lady on the box office, swishing about and being all famous. My step dad was pissed off because he’d pushed in and because my mum obviously fancied him. Being from Scunthorpe, we didn’t have much celebrity experience but I knew not to look impressed and to act cool. He had flicked hair like a manly Farah Fawcet and very tight pea green flares that strained at the crotch. I loved that Grumbleweed. My step dad was looking at him with the kind of contempt he usually had for me. As the celebrity swished back into the auditorium, he shouted, “Hello Ducky” and everyone laughed, not being able to stop there, he called him a puff. I was mortified. Then it struck, a very rude awakening,…. “I’m like that. He’s just like me!”. It made perfect sense. There was me, Mr Humphries and the sexy Grumbleweed. I wanted to add Buck to the list but he wasn’t really a pufta and in my heart of hearts, I knew it. I was a real pufta though and I couldn’t wait to go to bed that night. The Grumbleweed and I pillow-talked for hours. He loved Pam Ayres and wanted to take me away from my step dad and wished I was older than thirteen so we could go on celebrity holidays and drink. In the mean time, he was happy with us living together in a Scarborough hotel. We’d go for walks on the prom. He’d smoke cocktail cigarettes while I enjoyed endless Knickerbockerglories. We were very close and even though I never knew his name, the Grumbleweed became my long term boyfriend… until I chucked him for Kenny Everett a couple of weeks later… artistic differences.

Actual sex came in ninety eighty four. I’d had lots of rows with step dad and ended in a caravan in the bottom of my real dad’s garden. (Long and knotty story). Andy was a lad in the village who befriended me and took to coming round most evenings to chit chat about his crippling teen angst. He wanted to get off with the fabulous Joanne from the next village but she had a tall, sporty boyfriend with a mini. Andy and I ended up having sex. He was more desperate than I was beguiling but there were no complaints and it made a welcome distraction. We ended up loving each other but were never in a relationship. This isn’t a gay over straight victory story. The love and the sex weren’t connected. Andy is one of the world’s extraordinarily good people. He met his long term partner (an equally amazing woman), soon after going to university and told her about our former experiences. They’re still together now, I’m happy to say, and I’m God father to their two kids. Andy coming out with the terrible truth so early in their relationship, especially considering our age at the time must have taken a lot. More courage and honesty than ‘Mr Humphries’ ever managed.

The next turning point brings us to Liverpool. Eighty five. My first glimpse of the city was at night, on a flying visit. I was taken to Jody’s and had my nipple tweaked by a much older man in leather trousers … and loved it. I remember leaning over a railing and looking down onto the dance floor. This was even better than Grace Brothers, stuffed with hot looking blokes, all over each other and not a, “Hello Ducky” from anywhere. I had my first sex with a proper gay person that night. He was a student at CF Mott and very high up in the Young Conservative Movement. I didn’t find that out until the morning but I doubt it would have put me off. He fed me wine out of a chipped mug then put Lloyd Cole on and moved in for a snog. I tried to hide my nerves by talking too much then he went for it and so did I, furiously.

Back in Scunthorpe the following night, I examined myself for evidence. There was nothing. I’d spent so much time living in a dream world where sex was concerned, I could almost have imagined it. It wasn’t long after that I started to hatch my brilliant plan. I would take my new, enlightened self back to Liverpool. I would get a job and be a proper gay … with other proper gays, ones I could actually touch and converse with. It was going to be great and eventually, it was.

Lurching back to the present, I have recently turned forty and just facilitated a writing session for Our Story with a fantastic group of people. This experience has made me realise that I’ve come a long way from the Grumbleweed-Humphries hybrid I once aspired to. There are similarities, … I occasionally sing as part of a cabaret act and play Dames at Christmas but I’d like it to be noted that I’ve never worn pea green flares or made a habit of hiding my sexuality. I know who I am, I’m lucky enough to be in a relationship … with a real person, I’m happy with the not so terrible truth but have yet to work out where the frogs thing came from.







© Copyright OurStory Liverpool