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10 thoughts on “ueer City

  1. Paul Paul says:

    Ackroyd is a prolific and thorough writer novelist and biographer He has written other histories of London including ones on the Thames and the underground of London not just the tube This is about the history through the ages of the gay population of London There is an issue of terms to use gay ueer homosexual Ackroyd settles for ueer to cover the whole range of topics he covers There is a plethora of facts and stories assembled by Ackroyd; some are funny hilarious even others heartrendingly sad He drags up some of the most unlikely names Constable Obert Pert and a seller of trinkets called Samuel Drybutter Facts such as the late Tudor name for a dildo or at least one of them is a shuttlecock I don’t think I’m going to look at the game of badminton in the same way again It was also interesting to discover that in the seventeenth century there was a male brothel on the site of Buckingham Palace One fascinating aspect of the journey through history here is the breadth depth and luxuriance of the language used over the ages We meet words like catamite sapphist ingle pathic mollie jemmy tribade tommy indorser fribble and madge We also meet a vast array of characters The law is also never far away it must be remembered that penetrative sex between men was punishable by death between 1533 and 1861 the last hangings being in 1835 Hard labour was the punishment until 1967 Ackroyd charts an ebb and flow as there were periods of time when the law was applied severely than others When he can find original voices Ackroyd makes use of them like the man arrested for lewd conduct in 1726 who said “I think there is no crime in making what use I please of my own body” There are ideas thrown in too Ackroyd suggests that there was a third gender in Anglo Saxon times inspired by male corpses buried with grave goods associated with women and records female monks who cut their hair short and “dressed worked and lived like men” Ackroyd says that“our modern descriptions of what is gay or ueer need to be thoroughly revised in order to understand the past”There are transvestite knights in Malory and Richard of Devizes in the twelfth century describes “glabriones smooth skinned pretty boys pusi¬ones hustlers molles effeminates and mascularii man lovers”The voices of ordinary men and women are difficult to capture but are sometimes found in the court records Cross dressing is common and clearly gender fluidity has a very long history The city itself has a central role and Ackroyd uotes Calvino“Cities like dreams are made up of desires and fears even if the thread of their discourse is secret their rules absurd their perspective deceitful and everything conceals something else”There is a great deal to fascinate but also a great deal of persecution and tragedy some of it truly horrific and Ackroyd charts periods of particular persecution and roots them in the troubles of the times The early twentieth century apart from the two world wars being very repressiveThe ending of the history is fairly brief and everything since 1967 is packed into the last chapter which is far too brief The problem is that the last fifty years since legalization could be a rather hefty tome in itself so not everyone will be happy with Ackroyd’s selectiveness It must also be remembered that this is not the history of a movement but of the city of London and its relationship with its ueer citizens over the ages The writing about Aids is poignant given that Ackroyd’s long term partner died of Aids in the 1990s This is a good history alternately funny and sad written with great erudition and verve A bit limited towards the end but I suspect the modern history reuires a whole other book


  2. Nicolas Chinardet Nicolas Chinardet says:

    Some years ago I started to read Ackroyd's biography of London I went about half way through before giving up on it It felt very light on facts but full of hot air mostly smelling of shit and rotten produce as I recallueer city is just the opposite so crammed with facts that it becomes almost dizzying for it In effect the whole thing feels like a big brain dump Ackroyd rushes through a vertiginous list of facts often without really explaining things properly or simply adding by way of conclusion to a story an opaue comment that seems meant as an explanation but leaves the reader puzzled and non the wiserThe book is certainly informative and enjoyable to read and I have learnt lots of things from it but often I was left with unanswered uestions about the episodes described or about their context The book somehow manages to be both punctilious and vague at the time and would I think be uite confusing to a reader approaching the subject for the first timePerhaps this is due to the necessary breadth of the book sweeping two thousand years of obscured and fragmentary history but I can't help feeling Ackroyd could have given his subject a little care and affection I was excited when I got an advanced copy of the book and very much looked forward to reading it but in the end it feels like a hastily thrown together pot boiler than a labour of love


  3. charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow) charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow) says:

    Rep LGBT nonfiction most emphasis on G and Lyeah so have a collection of thoughts on this book i've seen people say that this book is too info dumpy but honestly? i've never been info dumped with lgbt history so i didn't necessarily find that to be a problem one thing i did find though was that there wasn't really a coherent flow to it it felt a bit choppy like one paragraph he'd be talking about something the next it'd be something else which didn't seem to connect so there wasn't really an overarching structure for each chapter let alone the book the use of ueer as a blanket term was kind of offputting but i can understand why he did so the terms we use now aren't necessarily applicable to the past and ueer as much as i dislike using it in that way does encompass them better than gay or lgbt the focus was primarily on cis gay men which i can understand because they're likely higher profile than any other part of the lgbt community and therefore easier to find information about not the biggest fan of when he did make forays into discussing trans history because he's obviously not in the position to really talk about it he had a really blase way of discussing some of the things between 1790s when the death penalty was introduced for homosexuality and 1970s 1980s with the gay liberation front like he drops in a line or two about someone who slit their throat because they thought they'd be blackmailed for homosexuality and then it's never considered again which ok i guess that's one way of dealing with it but we're not really talking things you can be blase about we're talking about murder and suicide and general horrific abuse he really does just skim over most of the 20th and 21st centuries and that's when most of the change happened so it'd have been nice to actually get something about that he seemed to be under the impression that the 21st century at least now has basically nothing to be fought about with respect to lgbt rights so sure he brings up homophobia a bit but besides that it's like he takes the view that there's nothing needing doing which is so wrong i don't even know where to start there's little to no analysis it's like this happened and this happened and then this happened i really hate the cishets


  4. Diana Diana says:

    Book received from NetGalleyFirst and foremost this particular history book is not for everyone the subject matter can be very divisive even though the author is a marvelous researcher and writer of British history This is one of my auto buy authors I love his books especially his non fiction He somehow finds a way to bring his subject to life and draw the reader in This book is no different even though the subject matter can be hard to read at times Unlike many of his history books this one is very short This is due to how little information on the LGBT community in the earliest parts of the historical record When it does show up for many years it's found in the trial records The book mostly focuses on the Gay community in London there is very little mentioned about Lesbians and even less about the rest of the community in general which is also do to the persecution that seemed to be focused on the males sexual preference If you want to know the origin of some of the worst slurs it's in here Why the author believes that homosexual sex became a death penalty case it's in here The ending of the history shows how much things have changed for the better in current times in Britain for the LGBT community even though changes need to be made it gives some hope that it will happen I learned uite a bit from reading this history and have plans to order myself a copy as soon as it's released If you like Gay studies alternative histories of Great Britain or Social history this book should be on you want to read list


  5. lottie lottie says:

    mint throughout and then at the end decided to be grumpy and pessimistic about where “we” are now as a “community” rather than happy that no one is being arrested pilloried murdered ruined ad naus any like they were for the previous 250 pages weird flex dude


  6. Alex Sarll Alex Sarll says:

    A frustrating fascinating mess of a book in which undoubted erudition pours forth on to the page with little structure beyond the vaguely chronological At times one wonders if it’s been edited at all; the dildo is described as indispensable to sapphic play in one sentence only for the next to admit that sometimes a finger was substituted Or consider the assertion that 1791 saw the last execution for sodomy in continental Europe Really? I’m sure there’s a few ghosts of the Nazi camps who might disagree Still and all if nothing else it’s a valuable reminder that there was never some solidly heterosexual Britain such as certain ridiculous parties now far too close to government might like to imagine oh and I’d love to see their faces if they read the section here about the recreations of their beloved King Billy Simon Callow’s Guardian review was vaguely sniffy about Ackroyd’s use of ‘ueer’ rather than ‘gay’ but really the former is a much better term – inclusive for one thing But also trying to parcel historical figures out into modern boxes for the ‘homosexual' ‘bisexual' or ‘trans' or sometimes even perhaps ‘asexual' would be to use categories which simply don't fit the facts and experiences under discussion in the same way as the catch all ‘ueer' The one downside of this is that the lines can sometimes be drawn a little too widely as when the grave of a Roman era gladiatrix is discussed There seems no evidence for her ueerness beyond her doing a job generally thought of as manly and once you start down that road where do you draw the line?To be honest you’ll probably do better with ueer City dipping into it oo er matron from time to time rather than trying to read it straight through and expecting a thesis Because considered as a treasure trove it’s full of gems Consider the 1620 text which has all the sodomites dying to mark Jesus’ birth ironic given the celebration of said birth is now uite literally as camp as Christmas Or the Dark Ages code enjoining three fasts on a boy who sleeps with an adult male in clerical orders but not specifying any punishment for the man curiously Ackroyd appears to be under the impression the Catholic Church has now reconsidered this approach All manner of disused slang is exhumed – I love ‘fribble’ and ‘whiffle’ but even my fascination with new words for bisexuals draws the line at ‘uranodioning’ There’s the notorious cottage purchased and transported to a New York estate as if it were a historical bridge or castle apparently by a wealthy American remembering happy times there during the Blitz There are the amusing horrifying or sometimes both specifics of particular busts under the homophobic laws of the day and the salacious details of what the historical ueers were up to one longs to know the tune to which the mollies sang 'Come let us bugger finely’ Not to mention many satirical rhymes my favourite among them running thus The Devil to prove the Church was a farceWent out to fish for a BuggerHe hates his hook with a Frenchman's arseAnd pulled up the Bishop of ClogherWho was known as the Arse Bishop ever afterAlas one must always keep an eye out for that same readiness to assume which we saw with the gladiatrix as when it’s blithely asserted that Othello depicts homoerotic themes when that is surely but one of many angles from which one can approach the central crack in these characters which undoes so many lives Obviously the nature of the topic is such that you won’t always have a clear statement of desires forbidden at the time but a little hedging would sometimes have been wise Not that any is needed in the case of John Addington Symonds who remarkably seems to have been turned gay by graffiti penises – a responsibility we’d all do well to remember when inscribing three line cocks in snow or condensation He would go on to propose the establishment of dedicated ‘spoonitoria' in public parksAs the book approaches the present day it covers increasingly familiar ground particularly once Labouchere’s debatable amendment criminalises all homosexual acts and not merely sodomy proper as before There’s that could have been done with these chapters I think – in particular a focus on something which has already been hinted at throughout but never fully addressed the complications of consent when a whole sphere of sexual activity is outlawed We may still laugh at Uncle Monty’s “I mean to have you boy even if it must be burglary” but it’s worth bearing in mind that an awful lot of the specific couplings described in ueer City would still be illegal today whether because one party was too young because they were taken by deceit or force or uite often both Not that the heterosexual scene was free of the same conditions of course any than it is today Nevertheless – when you tell people they’re beyond the pale to start with little wonder if their subseuent actions don’t necessarily bespeak the highest moral character Which makes it all the surprising that post legalisation Ackroyd can’t muster a bit enthusiasm for the state of things now He says that with assimilation and marriage the urge to uestion society’s norms and expectations has faded before going on to offer a serviceable if slightly old fashioned account of the increased visibility of trans and gender fluid people but makes no mention of for instance people in open and to some extent formal non monogamous relationships or otherwise ueering the pitch He remains in summary slightly maddening right to the end But it was a uick enough read which entertained me often enough that I can’t complain too forcefully


  7. Morgan M. Page Morgan M. Page says:

    Having just moved to London I decided to educate myself about my new city by picking up ueer City Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day As a trans pop historian there seemed no better way to get to know the streets and neighbourhoods of London than through its LGBT historyOn the one hand ueer City is a delightful often hilarious romp through about two thousand years of history It's full of tantalizing moment from various periods of London's history perhaps too brief but fascinating still Ackroyd manages to balance out what could've been an overwhelmingly male book given how much of history has been told solely from the male perspective and thus the difficulty in reconstructing the lives of pre modern women with uite a bit of information about lesbians and other female assigned people who might not be considered bisexual lesbian trans or ueer For these reasons I highly recommend itHowever on the other hand the book moves so uickly through time that one barely has a chance to learn much of anything It is of a rough outline of history than an in depth look something that is inevitable given the vast period covered from antiuity to present At so many points I wished we could stop and take in the sights as it were but the book spirits us on regardlessAckroyd seems uninterested or perhaps just uninformed on the events of the 20th Century While previous centuries go on at length about various actors both significant and insignificant the 20th Century is of an afterthought I don't think a single 20th Century personage besides Joe Orton gains mention Only one activist group the Gay Liberation Front merits mention there is no discussion of the specific activist groups during the AIDS crisis or even the now famous Lesbians and Gays Support the MinersThe book unfortunately also relies on the strange new fictive history of trans people relegating us as a 21st century phenomenon that came after gay rights with the so called transgender tipping point This ignores the history much of the book has already discussed of people living cross gender lives throughout the life of London Though seemingly congratulatory towards recent strides made by trans people he takes swipes at identity politics and treats trans people opposing anti trans radical feminists as crazy This section is so poorly researched that he manages even to misspell Paris Lees' name and repeat the tabloid fiction that another trans woman is the first trans Muslim That this is the note the book ends on leaves a bad taste in one's mouthThe final problem is that of all popular histories there are no footnotes or references making it nearly impossible to track down any of the facts oneself despite the long bibliography at the back As a pop historian it drives me a little madStill I'm giving the book four stars because it's otherwise delightful from start to nearly finish and can easily serve as a fun introduction to LGBT history in the UK for a non academic audience who might enjoy learning a slice of history


  8. Christine Christine says:

    Disclaimer ARC via Netgalley One of my closest friends is a gay man who is twenty plus years older than me Most days we take a walk though the local cemetery The Woodlands where Eakins and Stockton are buried among others Early on in our ritual we noticed a headstone for a couple but the couple in this case were both men Sadly it was one of those couple headstones where one partner is still alive and the other has died years ago My friend said that it was likely that the husband had died of AIDS When I asked him why he pointed out the death date and the link to the AIDS epidemic Seriously after a conversation like that you never look at tombstones the same way I found myself thinking about that as I read Peter Ackroyd’s ueer City ueer City is another entry into what I call Ackroyd’s London History series London The Thames London Under and as the title indicts follows the history of London’s ueer residents and culture ueer here meaning homosexual and trans which dates further back than you would think Ackroyd’s ueer City is a bit close to a chronical history in a way that the other London books are not though much of the flow and hither and there is still present You are either going to love this poetic style or hate it There is a level of almost catty gossip and sly humor to Ackroyd’s non fiction books Even a massive tome that is London doesn’t feel anyway near that long because of his tone It engages the reader moving the book far past a simple history book So we have observations like “They were a tribe of Ganymedes and he was their Zeus” Yet the book covers so much Ackroyd starts during the Pre RomanRoman era detailing even how gladiators weren’t perhaps uite the men we think they were apparently they really like perfume He then moves to the advent of Christianity and the Anglo Saxons He does discuss not only homosexual men but women as well noting that society’s view of women was also reflected in how society not law but society viewed homosexual relationships Being Ackroyd he is particularly interesting when discussing literature There is a detailed look at Chaucer’s homosexual pilgrims as well as the view of the erotic theatre of Elizabeth’s time “the codpieces were padded so the cods looked plumper” But he also doesn’t hesitate to describe punishment dealt out to those who did not fit the norm We learn not only of whippings and beatings but also of women slicing off a penis of an accused homosexual We hear of what happened to two women one of whom had married the other while disguised as a man We learn about those women who Waters wrote so well about in Tipping the Velvet As well as certain Mrs Bradshaw who will get approving looks from Disc fans We learn about the view of homosexuality and the arrival of AIDS in Britain This last section of the book is perhaps the uickest and almost glossed over I found myself wondering if this time period was too personal for Ackroyd to comfortably write about at least in times of his story Ackroyd’s long term partner Brian Kuhn died of AIDS in the 1990s It is this last section of the book that is at once the most hopeful and most touching In the same chapter where he discusses the AIDS epidemic he looks at the legislation of gay marriage as well as the phrase “check our privilege” and this too made me think about the differences between then and now How some younger members of ueer culture or transgender culture are somewhat dismissive of those that came before A trans person was dismissive of older homosexual because of lack of awareness of what that generation had endured He was not aware of men and women being unable and even forbidden to attend the sick and death beds of loved ones The word Stonewall to this young person meant little than a Civil War Reference The student lacked awareness and inability to see beyond or outside his own painframe of reference It is also possible that this young man his preferred description had been condensed to by older homosexualtrans population One can sense a missed discussion between groups It is case like this that Ackroyd seems to be thinking about when he talks about checking privilege He doesn’t claim immunity but he is pushing towards an ability to talk to discuss to learn to be better Ackroyd is making a cause of understanding each other in a way that the city he writes so passionately about seems to understand its residents


  9. rebecca rebecca says:

    Feeling torn about this book – it both disappointed and pleasantly surprised me On the one hand the ueer history of London is essentially a ueer history of England with a lot of unknown street names thrown in though Ackroyd does occasionally explore the link between urbanity and non heterosexuality its restriction to London feels limiting and contrived When he reaches the 19th century he suddenly seems in a hurry to finish He also skims over the uestion of sexual assault though the book's pages are full of cases of non consensual acts as though it is not worth discussing in a ueer history But on the other hand – he shows a great deal of intelligence and open mindedness establishing early on that our modern descriptions of what is gay or ueer need to be thoroughly revised in order to understand the past and not only trying to keep a 5050 balance of female and male ueerness but explaining why it is difficult to do so spoilers no one really wanted to write about women's sexuality or women at all back in the day I'd definitely recommend it but I still feel it had the potential to be better


  10. Will Will says:

    This work of popular history which attempts to chronicle the history of ueer London has its shining moments Ackroyd loves scandal and when he's in his element ueer City is a page turner His liberal uoting from old ballads and his jaunty writing style give Ackroyd's work a nice clip Unfortunately though Ackroyd has written an entirely frustrating bookAckroyd's work on ueer London through the 19th century is mostly good It's an interesting though cursory overview of how sexual identity changed over 2000 years in the city starting in pre Roman times We all know that sexual identity was fluid before the 19th century than it is today and that story is constantly hashed and rehashed in the first 160 pages We learn about ueer kings and their favorites the ueer world of 17th century theater with all of its bawdy innuendo the ubiuity of gay sex in monasteries and ueer marriages between women centuries agoBut somehow Ackroyd leaves only 70 pages for the last 200 years of ueer history in London and man are they bad First he dwells on accounts of sexual assault and violence as well as pedophilia and pederasty without making any effort to separate them from consensual sexual encounters For an author always commenting within the text Ackroyd only makes passing mention on the state of sexual s in the 19th century Instead of digging into why pedophilia and sexual violence were so common in that age Ackroyd just presents non consensual anecdotes without comment and with relish interspersing them with tales of consensual ueer love and lust If anything these stories belong in a history of sexual abuse rather than a ueer history of a cityDisappointingly Ackroyd who is 69 and gay should know better than to only mention trans people in passing and then write about them with a dismissive tone This passage was especially bizarre and outdated Those who cultivate and foster the transgender life are involved in what might be called existential change those who decide upon practical and surgical intervention merit the name of transsexuals In his final chapter Ackroyd sounds like a right wing commentator railing against so called social justice warriors rather than a ueer writer Bizarrely Ackroyd ends the book with a diatribe against people on social media trying to out check each other's privilege and against the word cis which he calls farcial The first 150 pages of Ackroyd's book are an interesting look at early ueer London but the last 80 pages are rushed annoying and disappointing You can skip this one


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ueer City [Download] ➸ ueer City ➿ Peter Ackroyd – Buyprobolan50.co.uk A Sunday Times Bestseller In ueer City Peter Ackroyd looks at London in a whole new way – through the history and experiences of its gay populationIn Roman Londinium the city was dotted with lupanar A Sunday Times Bestseller In ueer City Peter Ackroyd looks at London in a whole new way – through the history and experiences of its gay populationIn Roman Londinium the city was dotted with lupanaria ‘wolf dens’ or public pleasure houses fornices brothels and thermiae hot baths Then came the Emperor Constantine with his bishops monks and missionaries And so began an endless loop of alternating permissiveness and censureAckroyd takes us right into the hidden history of the city; from the notorious Normans to the frenzy of executions for sodomy in the early nineteenth century He journeys through the coffee bars of sixties Soho to Gay Liberation disco music and the horror of AIDSToday we live in an era of openness and tolerance and ueer London has become part of the new norm Ackroyd tells us the hidden story of how it got there celebrating its diversity thrills and energy on the one hand; but reminding us of its very real terrors dangers and risks on the other'Peter Ackroyd is the greatest living chronicler of London' Independent.