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October 1st, 2007

Why We Fight…(continued)

Via Box Turtle Bulletin…  You need to understand this…particularly if you’re a younger enough gay person, that you don’t remember much before the Clinton years, and the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which nullified the sodomy laws: When the homophobes start talking about the "good old days" when homosexuals stayed in the closet, this is what they mean:

In our final extract from his autobiography, Pete Price reveals what Liverpool was like when ‘coming out’ could land you in prison

I SAT down in Dr Lansley’s surgery. “Well, what seems to be the problem?” he asked.]

I came out with what I’d been saying over and over in my head. This man, with the film-star looks and smart suits, was the first person I had told in my life.

“I … I think I’m a homosexual.”

He looked at me and froze. What was he going to do? I’d heard homosexuals could be sent to prison – was this going to happen to me?

Finally he spoke. “Don’t be stupid. You’re 12 years old. How could you possibly know?”

He smiled. “You’ll grow out of it.”

I left, feeling wretched. Now there was nobody I could tell– certainly not my mum. I was terrified of losing her: one mother had already abandoned me and, as much as she reassured me, I thought she would do the same.

Two years later, I went back to say I was still a homosexual. This time, Dr Lansley gave me some Valium. “Take these, you’ll be all right,” he said.

They made things even harder, as I was terrified of mum finding them, and the way they made me feel scared me. I poured them out of the bottle and flushed them down the toilet.

As time went on, there had been one man down in London who had been writing to me regularly. I’d gone off him and he had taken it badly. He had sent me one letter threatening to kill himself if I started going out with someone else – typical drama queen stuff.

I’d read it and hid it in my bureau as I was late in for work at the Cabin club. But it must have slipped out as I closed the door behind me.

After work that day I got a lift back with my boss. It was 3am and I crept into the house. Walking up the stairs, I saw a light on. I thought mum hadn’t been able to sleep, and went in to say goodnight.

She was white. In her hand was a sheet of paper, and she looked absolutely destroyed.

Mum handed the love letter to me. “What does this mean?” she asked.

I felt sick. The letter had fallen out where she could see it. Everything was there, plain as can be. Did I try to lie my way out of this? Did I tell her I was bisexual, even though I knew I wasn’t? It might soften the blow if she could think her son might still settle down and give her grandchildren. No, I thought, that would be another lie – and this has to stop now.

“It’s true, mum,” I said. “I’m a homosexual.”

It was a decision which would lead to me being checked in for aversion therapy – the most horrible experience of my life – but it was something I had to tell her.

She looked at me, then screamed: “Get out of the house!” Then she rushed to the toilet and I heard her throwing up as I ran down the stairs.

How the doc tried to turn me straight

I SAT down in the doctor’s room in a psychiatric hospital in Chester. An old-fashioned Grundy TK 20 tape machine was sitting on his desk.

He started to interview me about sex acts between gay men, taping my answers.

“Don’t you feel degraded about what you are doing?” I remember him asking me.

After he stopped the recording, he told me we would start therapy the next day.

“We’re going to try and put you off looking at men,” he said.

In the morning I was shown into a windowless room with a male nurse. A crate of Guinness arrived, and I was given a stack of dirty magazines showing body builders – not the sort of thing that would have turned me on in a million years.

The nurse started playing the tape of my conversation. I sat and listened, flicking through the books with a pint, not knowing what the hell was going on.

Then he gave me an injection and suddenly I started feeling sick.

“I think I’m going to vomit!” I yelled out. “I need a basin.”

The doctor smiled. “Then be sick.”

“I think I’m going to go to the toilet.”

“Just do it on the bed.”

I screamed: “You’re joking.”

All the while the tape of the doctor’s questions was playing in the background, over and over: “What you do is disgusting.”

It continued for 72 hours – the drink, the injections, the vomiting and excrement – hour after hour.

All I could think was that I wasn’t going to get out alive.

When it ended, I lay there sobbing, the doctor came in.

“Now you’ve got to have the electrodes … ” he said.

Peter Price is a radio personality in the UK.  Click on the link above to goto the Liverpool Echo for more, including a link to a place in the UK selling his book.  I just checked Amazon and it isn’t there, which makes me doubt you’ll be able to find it at your local gay bookstore either.  But hopefully the book will make it to these shores too.  This is history every gay person should know.

One Response to “Why We Fight…(continued)”

  1. Bill S Says:

    Sounds like that doctor was indulging in some kind of twisted bondage/domination fantasy, not administer therapy.

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