Cruising the 1970s: Unearthing Pre-HIV/AIDS Queer Sexual Cultures
The research question at the heart of this project is: How might we best reconstruct and understand LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) social and sexual cultures from the decade between the advent of an international gay rights movement and the first reported cases of HIV/AIDS, and what can this knowledge contribute to understandings of queer politics and identity in Europe’s present and future?
While public attitudes towards queer sexualities and the legislative treatment of LGBTQ people differ greatly across Europe, the researchers ask what might be gained collectively, now and in the future, from examining the shared and dissonant European experiences of persecution, discrimination, collaborative action and protest in the 1970s.
As HIV infection rates rise in metropolitan Britain, Eastern Europe, France and Spain, this project returns to places, histories and visions of the future from the pre-HIV/AIDS era that have been lost or forgotten. With one in four LGBTQ people in Europe reporting experiences of homophobic violence or verbal abuse in the past five years, the researchers explore how rethinking queer history can offer innovative means of tackling homophobia in the present.
CRUSEV interrogates the queer terrain of the 1970s across four European countries:
- United Kingdom
The project investigates the transformative impact of queer world-making in the 1970s on contemporary LGBTQ life in Europe and on the study of LGBTQ history in the present. In examining these cultural shifts and historical effects, CRUSEV asks a variety of questions including:
- What are the challenges of historicising the recent past, in countries across Europe? In what ways were the ‘queer 1970s’ experienced and historicised differently in culturally and politically distinct European countries?
- What is the significance of these national differences and similarities for the advancement of legislative rights of LGBTQ people in the European Union in the present?
- What are the blind spots in official histories of this decade? In arriving at our current cultural attitudes and political policies towards LGBTQ people, what ‘alternative histories’ have been sidelined or obscured?
- What challenges are posed by engaging with hidden or fleeting elements of subcultural history?
- In what ways did hegemonic public discourses – legal, religious, medical – around sexuality and gender identity shape subcultural expressions of LGBTQ identity and queer experience in Europe in the 1970s?
- How do these subcultural expressions of the 1970s shape the experiences of LGBTQ people in the present?
- How was queer cultural creativity in the 1970s related to the social and political legitimacy being won in many, but not all, European countries at the time?