13:49, February 26 472 0 theguardian.com

2018-02-26 13:49:05
Secrecy surrounds case of gay war hero who took cyanide

February is LGBTQ history month. As it comes to an end, anyone who doubts why we need this focus might like to consider one trial and its consequences.

In 1954, a decorated second world war veteran took his own life with cyanide, minutes after he was sentenced to 12 months in prison for making love to another man. We’re developing a play about him and the 16 others accused with him.

We aim to present performances that animate social history, bringing the urgent questions of the past to life. It’s a shock when our best source of information turns out to be the News of the World.

An insidious form of censorship is at work. The National Archives seems to have wiped all evidence of this trial. Our Freedom of Information request to see court papers from similar cases has been refused, even though the 2017 “Alan Turing law” pardons all men who suffered such prosecutions.

What was once discussed publicly in open court is now a secret. The state seems keen to airbrush our war veteran’s tragedy from history. Stories like his show why LGBTQ History Month is so badly needed. Until the authorities can be honest about what they did to gay people, their apologies and pardons are worthless.

We call on the government to end its censorship of these trials. To make sense of the past, we should not have to rely on lurid titbits from the News of the World.

Martin Malcolm, Tom Marshman and Ben Priestley

Further to Alison Smith’s letter (24 February), I object to being labelled LGBT or any of its variations, and even more to being part of the LGBT “community”. I’m an individual, I’m proud to be called gay, and I do not wish to sound like a sandwich one could ask for in Pret. (“I’m looking for your LBT sandwiches.” “I’m sorry, these have now been renamed LGBT sandwiches – or would you prefer our luxury version, LGBTQ?”)

Nick Chadwick


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