Jeremy, The Magazine for Modern Young Men, 1969


Jeremy, vol. 1, no. 1.

To note the 50th anniversary this month of the (partial) decriminalisation of homosexual acts in England and Wales I thought I’d write something about Jeremy magazine, a short-lived publication launched in the UK in 1969. The magazine is notable not for the quality of its contents, which seem slight considering the high cover price of six shillings, but for being the first British magazine aimed at an audience of gay men that wasn’t either porn, a dating mag or a political tract. I had planned to write something about Jeremy at least two years ago when the blog was still a daily thing but detailed information about the magazine’s history is hard to find. This is frustrating but not too surprising. The anniversary of the change in the law has prompted a number of exhibitions and events devoted to Britain’s gay history but little of that history ever seems to travel beyond academic circles unless a notable life story—Quentin Crisp or Alan Turing, say—is involved. As with so many aspects of British culture, the conversation is dominated by America: the main campaigning organisation in the UK, Stonewall, is named after an American riot; the LGBT initialism is an American invention, as is the rainbow flag (the latter, as I’ve said before, being fine as a flag but—with its multiple colours—hopeless as a symbol). More Britons will know the name Harvey Milk than they do Edward Carpenter (1844–1929) or Allan Horsfall (1927–2012) even though Carpenter and Horsfall devoted years of their lives campaigning for gay men to be treated equally under the law in the Britain. Horsfall’s Campaign for Homosexual Equality pioneered the push for gay rights in Britain, the first official meeting taking place in Manchester in 1964. The Sexual Offences Act of 1967 seemed in later years like a poor compromise but when the alternative being offered was celibacy or the risk of a prison sentence it was a start. (Scotland, however, had to wait until 1980 for the same change in the law while in Northern Ireland sex between men was illegal until 1982.) Two years after decriminalisation, not only was Jeremy being launched but OZ magazine devoted a portion of its 23rd issue (September, 1969) to gay material. Jeremy advertised its early issues in OZ and IT (see below).


Jeremy, vol. 1, no. 2.

Jeremy‘s status as the first gay magazine in Britain might be more acknowledged if its origins weren’t so obscure. The magazine is mentioned in books such as British Queer History (edited by Brian Lewis) and The Culture of Queers by Richard Dyer but never in any detail. Dyer refers to the title as a bisexual magazine which it may have appeared to be from the covers but this is contradicted by the ads. Peter Burton, editor of the later issues, claimed that everyone involved knew that gay men were the primary audience. Using bisexuality as a kind of fig leaf was less a case of cold feet than a means by which the magazine might be smuggled under the radar of those who would otherwise object to its existence. Britain may have been slightly ahead of the US in its tolerance of gay men but the lack of a written constitution meant that publishers, especially those regarded as subversive or disreputable, needed to tread carefully in the 1960s and 70s as OZ and Nasty Tales discovered.


Jeremy, vol. 1, no. 3.

The precarious legal position means that Jeremy‘s visuals are relatively innocuous, with sporadic nudity but nothing that might be regarded as pornography. The magazine’s features were also relatively innocuous although the novelty of publishing anything overtly gay meant that a piece about entertaining at home would carry a frisson that would be absent in other magazines. Later issues included encounters with minor celebrities including an early interview with David Bowie which has at least preserved the magazine’s name in Bowie histories. Bowie had the opportunity to be open about his sexuality but wisely waited until his profile had risen and he could make a declaration to a larger audience.


Jeremy, vol. 1, no. 5.

A few more covers and some interior pages follow. As usual, if anyone has further information to contribute then please leave a comment. My thanks to Rex for sending the information about Peter Burton’s editorship of the magazine.

Continue reading “Jeremy, The Magazine for Modern Young Men, 1969”

Greek games


Ganymede from an Attic red-figure bell-krater, ca. 500–490 BC.

And ye Megarians, at Nisæa dwelling,
Expert at rowing, mariners excelling,
Be happy ever! for with honours due
Th’ Athenian Diocles, to friendship true
Ye celebrate. With the first blush of spring
The youth surround his tomb: there who shall bring
The sweetest kiss, whose lip is purest found,
Back to his mother goes with garlands crowned.
Nice touch the arbiter must have indeed,
And must, methinks, the blue-eyed Ganymede
Invoke with many prayers—a mouth to own
True to the touch of lips, as Lydian stone
To proof of gold—which test will instant show
The pure or base, as money changers know.

Theocritus, Idyll XII, translated by Edward Carpenter.

One Ancient Greek tradition yet to be revived by the International Olympic Committee is the Diocleia, an annual contest held in the Dorian city of Megara. William Smith’s A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1882) gives a brief explanation:

DIOCLEIA, a festival celebrated by the Megarians in honour of an ancient Athenian hero, Diocles, around whose grave young men assembled on the occasion, and amused themselves with gymnastic and other contests. We read that he who gave the sweetest kiss obtained the prize, consisting of a garland of flowers. (Theocrit. Idyll. xii. 27, &c.) The Scholiast on Theocritus (l. c.) relates the origin of this festival as follows – Diocles, an Athenian exile, fled to Megara, where he found a youth with whom he fell in love. In some battle, while protecting the object of his love with his shield, he was slain. The Megarians honoured the gallant lover with a tomb, raised him to the rank of a hero, and in commemoration of his faithful attachment, instituted the festival of the Diocleia.

So the Diocleia was primarily a same-sex kissing contest, a detail that 19th century accounts do their best to skirt around, as they tended to do when faced with the unavoidable yet unacceptable sexual proclivities of the Ancient World. Here’s another account from a typewritten thesis by Ernest Leslie Highbarger, Chapters in the History and Civilization of Ancient Megara (1923):

In his honor public games, the Diocleia, were celebrated. These were as important at Megara as were the Pythia and Eleusinia elsewhere. According to Megarian belief, Diocles was a Megarian ruler of Eleusis. But the Alexandrine tradition claimed that he was an Athenian who had fled to Megara for some cause and had become a hero after dying in defense of a boy friend. […] These Diocleia were held at the beginning of spring. The prize is said to have been a crown of flowers and was presented to the boy who gave the sweetest kiss. Boeckh and Reinganum, however, maintain that we must not limit such a contest to kissing but must extend it to contests in general such as the ones in which Diocles was victorious. But if we are to judge by the elegies of Theognis, boy-love was as common at Megara as in other parts of Greece and the osculatory contest at the games may have constituted no insignificant part.

Edward Carpenter, on the other hand, being a pioneering activist for gay rights, regarded these festivals as one of the many valuable precedents that might be used to argue a defence for same-sex relations:

Further [Bethe] suggests that the competition which yearly took place among the youths at the tomb of the great hero and lover, Diocles, in Megara – and which is known to us through Theocritus (Idyll xii.) – had a similar origin; and represented the survival of actual betrothals which once were celebrated there, as at a holy place. There is certainly something very grand about this whole conception and manifestation of the Uranian love among the Dorians. The wonderful stories – treasured in the hearts of the Greek peoples for centuries – of heroic bravery and mutual devotion inspired by it; the high seriousness with which it was cultivated both as a political safeguard and as a means of the education of youth, the religious sanction and dedication to the gods, and withal the absolute recognition of its human and passional origin, cannot fail to make us feel that here was a great people with a unique message for the world. Certainly we shall never in modern times understand this love until we realise this quality of it and its immense capabilities.

Intermediate Types among Primitive Folk (1914)

Dorian: Yes, the word is the origin of Dorian Gray’s first name, and Oscar Wilde was fully aware of its referring to proscribed passions. He was sufficiently well-acquainted with Greek poetry to pen a poem of his own to Theocritus so would have been very familiar with the Idylls and their paean to the Diocleia.

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