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History Rewritten

What did it feel like growing up gay? Where did you meet your friends and partners? How did your family react or did they never know?
Our Story Liverpool is running writing workshops to let you explore your memories and help capture gay history. Below are some examples of what participants wrote at our first workshop in February 2007. If they strike a chord with you and inspire you to share your memories with us please get in touch info@ourstoryliverpool.co.uk
Your experience is our history - help us capture those memories for the future.

Dave, 40

As I look across my 40 years it all started for me with two major events that happened in 1967 - the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the most important for me, my birth.

The first 17 years were uneventful. Growing up in a catholic household with the idea that I wanted to be a priest the 'girlfriend issue' was never a problem as I and those around me thought "he's not interested in girls because he's going to be a priest."

It was only when I started to explore this ambition to be a catholic priest that ironically I started to look at my sexuality - a journey that has been filled with joys, tears, confusion, pain and many other emotions along the way. So perhaps this is the best place to start sharing my story.

In the April of 1985 my life changed in some ways for the better and in others not - my father died (a man who I loved and respected but also feared and felt trapped by as he was very controlling, domineering and possessive.)

To read the rest of this click this link - Dave

Frank, 46
St Helens

I was born in 1961, into a hard-working, working class family. I realized at an early age that I was ‘different’. Mum did a variety of jobs and Dad worked shifts at the local factory – when he wasn’t down the pub. Time was spent at play on my own, sometimes with my older sister.

It was at secondary school that I began to realize that I was attracted to some of the male teachers and other boys in my class. I didn’t know what to do about it. Obviously it was ‘wrong’, as I overheard other classmates talking derogatively about ‘queers’ and ‘puffs’. I reacted with horror, fear and shame. All around me in films, on television and in the media, men and women had relationships NOT men and men or women and women.

I repressed my yearnings and feelings all the way through college and during my first job. It got to the point, when I was nearly 30 that I realized I was not actively living any sort of ‘meaningful’ or ‘happy’ life. I knew that I needed to do something about it.

I got the number of an organization in Liverpool, called Friend Merseyside, which operated a coffee bar in the city centre one night a week and served as a befriending/counselling organization.

To read the rest of this click this link - Frank


A well-endowed priest with links to the RAF. What more could a young gay man want?

My first love. Glasgow, 1974. Me- good looking (or so I was told - no confidence), student, playing at being radical. Pride marches, holding hands in public (!), gay politics and of course lots of sex! Slowly developing a gay identity for myself.

Then all of a sudden along came LOVE. Everything fell apart, I fell apart. Pulled in all directions by an obsessive need for this man. Waiting endlessly by the telephone, overjoyed when he phoned, devastated when he didn’t. Waiting for that letter that took weeks to come. Putting up with so little in retrospect. I deserved more!

To read the rest of this click on this link - Stephen

Kate, 44

I went to a very odd school. A private girls school in Liverpool staffed almost entirely by 'old maids' who, this being the early 1970's, had more in common with Vita Sackville West than the "L" word. Any subconscious sapphic desires that may have been surfacing in my early teens were firmly buried beneath the collective scorn in which we held our weird and looking back, rather wonderful, teachers.

The science mistress wore tweed, brogues, checked shirts and a tie and bore an uncanny resemblance to Margaret Rutherford. The headmistress smoked cigars whilst making clandestine phone calls in french in front of the gas fire in her room whilst we pretended to be drowning under her desk. The PE mistress was a very fit 63 and had a crew cut Steve McQueen would be proud of, she also had a Kawasaki 750 and was famous for leading the first all women's expedition to the Antarctic.

To read the rest of this click on this link - Kate

Brian, 44

As a child I was always effeminate and it was assumed that I was different. I was called 'gay' and 'queer' and 'sissy' but I did not connect to this sexuality.

I was first attracted to a classmate aged 7 and I knew my interest in other boys was different to that of other boys interests. I was bullied at school and I was determined not to live up to others 'gay' expectations of me.

I had no sexual experiences at school except fantasising about the PE teacher and having crushes on handsome boys. I brushed my sexuality aside during my teenage years and went to 'straight' places with 'straight', 'boring' people.

At age 23 I went on my first holiday alone and found myself alone with a gay black man. I wanted him as a friend as he was a fellow scouser, but he wanted more. I didn't fancy him so he told me to go away as I was "no use to him".

My sexuality peaked during this period and it was unrequited for most of the time.

To read the rest of this click on this link - Brian


I'd come home to come out. University had given me the choice of a fresh start and I'd been open about being gay for over a year now. But if I could trust strangers with such a big part of my life then I owed it to my family to be honest with them. And now it was Sunday evening, almost time to go back to Preston.

I couldn't sit still I was so full of nervous energy and I welcomed the distraction when my sister peered around the door asking for help with her homework. By the time we finished I was so wound-up that I just blurted out, "I'm gay you know?".

As it turns out, she did kind of know. A few months earlier while she was rooting through my wardrobe she found a copy of Gay Times. "I wasn't sure if it was for your Psychology or not. But it wasn't was it?"

She seemed quite unphased and feeling stronger, more confident......I bottled it. An hour later I was back in Preston, my parents no more the wiser.

Sitting in a lecture on Monday morning I felt as nervous, as frustrated and confused as I had the night before. And now I was pissed off with myself. These were the most important people in my life and if I couldn't be myself with them....I had to do it.

To read the rest of this click on this link - Mike

Lou, 40

Suzi Quatro, Chrissie Hynde and Debbie Harry were big influences on my life. I must have been about 6 when I stopped playing with Sindy to watch the woman in black leather catsuit singing 'Devil Gate Drive'.

I always had a strong personality and when I played with my best friend David, it was always me who dictated the roles - I was the boss and he was the secretary, he was Richard to my Karen Carpenter, I came out at 20 he came out at 21!

I always loved men with beards; Billy Bonds, Benny from Abba, Robert Powell as Jesus - but not because I fancied them but because I wanted to BE them. Didn't all little girls practise shaving with soap suds just like 'The Virginian'?

Then at secondary school I noticed a particular girl in my class who made me feel odd in a nice way. At 12 I was excited to be near her but our friendship drove another of my friends to hysterical anger.

There were the obligatory crushes on the gym teacher, 'Tenko' characters and older girls at my drama club. Tortured diary entries from 1980 describe how dull and insignificant I felt in their company.

To read the rest of this click on this link - Lou


Coming out, ready or not

Kenny Buck's mother's imitation of my high girlish voice, mocking my total lack of involvement in the final sports day of primary school, made me vow that, if I didn't want to get called a “sissy”, I ought to try to be more “manly” when I started “big school” in September,

The only “men” I knew as an 11 year old in mid 50's Manchester only talked about three things, sport, cars and girls, sport was definitely out, and driving was a far off fantasy, so I decided I better get a girlfriend.

I started secondary school in central Manchester in Sept '56 and was fascinated by the Jewish garment district & Sandra Bowker, who looked like a miniature Elizabeth Taylor. I tried to be her boyfriend but she turned me down on the basis of my not being Jewish, ironic, since it turned out later that technically, I was.

Anne Greenwood who was a catholic, had no mum and dad, and looked like my grandma Cort said, "Don't you think the cruellest thing one human being can do to another is inflict life on it?" I agreed, and decided I never wanted children of my own.

To read the rest of this click on this link - Bill

Joe, 40

My Celebrity Boyfriends

My most intense time of self discovery came in the seventies. By seventy three, I already had enough life experience to know something wasn’t right. (I was seven and limited to other people’s vocabulary). It was more to do with the world at large than anything wrong with, or different about me. I was the centre of my own fantastic universe. I didn’t have much to go on but I knew the terrible truth had something to do with mums and something to do with frogs and whatever it was, I wanted nothing to do with it. I was already a year into my first relationship at this point and I was in love, big time. He was smart and funny and everyone loved him. I saw him once a week when he took me to my favourite place in the world. There was no place like Grace Brothers. I learnt how to play the theme tune on my stylophone in the hope of luring Mr Humphries, siren style, to our humble abode. His visits were limited to once a week. He’d take me to my spiritual home for half an hour at a time then vanish into thin air, leaving me deserted in a world where I didn’t belong. The terrible truth was looming ever closer but I managed to remain oblivious, for a while longer.

Being able to name my uniqueness came a few years later. By nineteen seventy nine, Mr Humphries and I had parted ways and I was spending most of my spare time with Buck Rogers. He had a fantastic house that was huge and white with fury beds that slipped out of the wall at the push of a button… a bit like Gareth Hunt’s place in the Avengers. I had flings with him too but back to Buck… He’d come home after a hard day’s fighter piloting and slip into a bubble bath. I’d watch him jog down the stairs, smelling of Brut. He’d look at me with a menacing expression as he undid his karate dressing gown. There was one thing on his manly mind, … a savage game of Buckaroo.

To read the rest of this click on this link - Joe

Ram, 51

Merseyside Friends

In the summer of 1985 I came to a decision. I was working at Whiston Hospital and lived in staff accommodation. One evening in August a month before my thirtieth birthday I walked on to St Helens Road. I carried on through green fields and woods until I found a suitably secluded phone box from where I rang Friend Merseyside.

"I am a gay man from India and I've been in the UK for more than a year" I explained to Tim, a befriender on the switchboard. We arranged a time to meet up on a Wednesday evening at the Friend premises. It was located on the top floor of a worn, grey building on Colquitt Street at the top end of Bold Street. I felt wary of meeting someone I knew as I approached it that evening. My heart beat faster as I rang the buzzer labelled 'Friend'. I was told to come upstairs. It smelt dank and musty inside. The stairs creaked. I knocked on a door. It opened to reveal a brightly lit room full of strong perfumes and men busily getting dressed. "Want to come in love?" one of them said.

To read the rest of this click on this link - Ram
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