A History Of Homosexuality In Europe: Berlin, London, Paris by Florence Tamagne

By Florence Tamagne

Publication by way of Tamagne, Florence

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83 The most famous Bright Young People had made their studies in Oxford, like Harold Acton and Brian Howard. 84 Acton was the first to wear very broad trousers (Oxford bags) in lavender. Together with Cecil Beaton, Stephen Tennant and other young society men they organized all kinds of themed evenings. Stephen Tennant’s effeminate appearance caused ambivalent reactions. Some were simply struck: “I do not know if that is a man or a woman, but it is the most beautiful creature I have ever seen,”85 the admiral Sir Lewis Clinton-Baker would say.

Discussing sexuality in public was out of the question, much less homosexuality. Girls especially were quite unaware of the existence of homosexuals or lesbians. When it became necessary to mention the question, a suitable vocabulary was terribly lacking. C. 62 Very often, outside the mainstream there was greater freedom: lower-class workers had crude slang terms for homosexuals, whereas certain avant-garde circles, like Bloomsbury, could be very liberal. It would be an error, however, to think that homosexuality was generally overlooked.

30 A Myth is Born: Those Flamboyant Days — You think that what is camp is an elegant young man with bleached hair, wearing a Gainsborough hat and a feather boa and who thinks he’s Marlene Dietrich?... What I am talking about is high camp... true high camp is basically serious. One does not make fun of it, one uses it to make fun of himself. 70 Camp helps homosexuals to formulate their own culture. According to Quentin Crisp (one of the best representatives of camp), camp came into being in the 1920s as a reaction to the crisis in sexual values, the upheaval of feminine and masculine roles that marked the period.

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