At this point in time, it seems more essential than ever to celebrate Gay Pride. 

 

Around the world, LGBTQIA+ people are under threat from a variety of political regimes - mostly extreme right-wing supported by evangelical Christians, often from the USA. They are held to be the cause of economic and/or health problems as well as corrupting children, even though the problems are probably more due to that government's own corruption and incompetence.

 

From publications put out by Stonewall and other organisations in the LGBTQIA+ area on the continuing hard lives experienced by young people - who have prejudiced and bigoted families and colleagues - it was important to me to present in my books a very deliberate picture of fully supportive, accepting parents - even if this appears to be too true to be believed. Any homophobic actions, expressions or attitudes mostly happen off-stage as it were. I have been told that the boot should have been more wickedly aimed at a couple of homophobic backsides!

 

As I was among the first "boomer" generation (born nine months and a few days after VE Day - 8 May 1945), I was a teenager in the 1960s when all male homosexual activity was still totally illegal. Of course it all went on, but the Sexual Offences Act 1967 only partially decriminalised such activity (you had to be consenting, over 21 and in private). As far as I can ascertain, "in private" was never tested in the courts. 

 

Such relaxation as the Act gave however, did not prevent the police in the 1970s from maintaining continuous harassment of gay establishments, as well as using "pretty policemen" as agents provocateurs in public lavatories. A number of totally innocent men were arrested and the stigma was such at the time that several committed suicide.

 

By the way, the apocryphal story is that, when a Government Bill about the prohibition of homosexual activities was put before Queen Victoria in 1888, she declared that lesbianism was an impossibility, so any and all references to women were dropped!

 

Public attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ in the UK after 1967 very gradually changed over the succeeding decades, though the HIV/AIDS horrors of the 1980s, giving rise to the dreadful phrase "gay plague", was an appalling setback. It was followed by the sinister Section 28 imposed by the egregious Mrs Thatcher, so the education of school students at the time was full of misunderstanding and misery for LGBTQIA+ students in particular and a real problem for teachers. 

 

 

Those times were brilliantly realised by Simon James Green in his book Boy Like Me, and is one of my favourites. Highly recommended for the exposure of the bigotry and hypocrisy of so-called persons in authority! (His other books are a real joy to read too.)

 

Most unfortunately there is still a significant amount of homophobia in the UK, even though more progress came with the establishment of Civil Partnership at the end of 2005 (thank you Mr Blair) and Civil Marriage in 2014 for same-sex couples (thank you Mr Cameron).

 

Dugald MacInnes and I became Civil Partners on the first day possible, 21 December 2005.  We changed that status for marriage on 25 November 2015, in part because Dugald didn't think he would make it to Christmas. In the end, he died on Easter Monday 28 March 2016, just a month and a half short of 44 years together.

 

My books - Kissing Frogs and More Frogs to Kiss, both dedicated to Dugald - were mostly written during the Covid lockdown, because it was essential to find something to occupy me rather than sit staring at a wall. From the several possible basic plots, the obvious one to choose was the stranger arriving and being the catalyst of changing the lives of those whom they met. In my book it was a handsome seventeen year old Scot, with some sexual experience behind him, who meets an inexperienced seventeen year old American who is more than willing to be seduced. 

 

I had enormous joy writing both books, dreaming up situations where both boys could have fun exploring their world, sometimes getting up in the early hours (or even while swimming!) as thoughts and possibilities presented themselves. In all honesty, much of both books form a sort of fantasy where I could experience vicariously, at a sixty year distance, what I wish I had experienced at the time. Having said that, there are several instances where events that actually happened in my life are included, even if a little embellished, but moved forward by several decades.

 

While writing, there was time to also read many books on gay lives and thoughts (quite a few of them are listed, with a few omissions unfortunately, at the end of Kissing Frogs and quite a few others have been read since) plus newspaper articles, watching television programmes, reading recipes and consulting the computer, especially on Native American and First Nation peoples.

 

Perhaps I should emphasise that these books (other than an occurrence towards the end of the first one) are not in any way at all an autobiography - more's the pity!

 

Article written by Gerald L Milch, author of Kissing Frogs and More Frogs to Kiss. 

 

 

Kissing Frogs is available in paperback and eBook format.

 

More Frogs to Kiss is available in paperback.