By Steve Spencer
When reading memoirs of the Blitz in London, you will find bleakness, but also a curious exhilaration and sexual freedom for straight, but especially for gay people. Same-sex passions, could flourish in pockets of experience and knowledge, more or less secretly, and more or less safely. The mix of blacked-out streets, dark shelters and servicemen in the English capital provided new opportunities for gay male cruising. The uncertainties of the time, and the horrors of air-raids, gave many people a new determination to enjoy themselves while they could. In this article, Steve Spencer explores Londoners’ differing responses to the Blitz through a number literary and visual sources.
Chamberlain’s radio announcement that Britain was at war with Germany coincided with another air raid test in the capital, eerily reminding listeners that rehearsals would soon give way to the main performance where ‘sandbags …, gas masks …, the nightly blackout became a way of life.’ The focus of the enemy’s campaign on London itself marked the start of the Blitz in September 1940 with a series of air raids, day and night. The anticipated demoralisation of the capital’s population would presumably persuade the government to cave in to German aggression. Read full article by Steve Spencer.