Pride month: The LGBT history you probably didn’t learn in school

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06/02/2021

If you think we live in an open-minded, sex-positive society now, just wait until you hear what may have been going on down the Yorkshire mines in the 1950s. There’s a lot of LGBT history many of us don’t know. Partly because it wasn’t covered in school, partly because so much of it happened in secret. “Even in the 19th century, it’s very difficult to talk about gay or lesbian identity,” says Harry Cocks, associate history professor at the University of Nottingham. “It didn’t really exist, there wasn’t really any such thing.” Of course, everyone was still at it. The existence of Molly Houses in the 18th century, pubs or coffee-houses (although some just think they were brothels) where men would meet, is well known. It’s just that many men who visited them went back to their wives and families afterwards. “People have always challenged gender norms and sexual norms,” Prof Cocks adds. “The idea that you can organise the world around the kinds of desires that you have, I think, is a very recent idea.”

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