Films and Filming: The Making of a Queer Marketplace in
Pre-decriminalization Britain

Looking at the international film magazine Films and Filming, which ran from 1954 until 1990, I uncovered a deliberate and strategic policy of identifying and cultivating queer consumers long before the 1967 Sexual Offences Act decriminalised homosexual acts between men in Britain.

Published and edited by homosexual men and assembled by a largely queer staff, Films and Filming’s producers deliberately coded the magazine for men like themselves, with little or no interest in lesbians. Throughout its life, Films and Filming’s articles on censorship of homosexual themes in film, references to sexually ambiguous male actors like Rock Hudson and Dirk Bogarde, humour, sexual innuendo and homoerotic photo spreads all reinforced for many that Films and Filming was queer. From its initial issues in 1954, Films and Filming sought what we would today call the ‘pink pound’, or Britain’s queer market segment. Commercial advertisements promoted queer-friendly and queer-owned businesses; the first issues included ads for Vince Man’s Shop, the notorious Soho men’s boutique. Discreet ‘bachelor’ ads from men looking for same-sex partners began appearing in the mid 1950s. These were soon a key feature of the publication’s pre-decriminalisation years, later becoming more explicit adverts for sexual partners and queer prostitutes. By the 1960s, some readers were so sure of the magazine’s queer audience, they even sought to buy or sell homoerotic magazines and films through its classified ads. Advertisers and readers both recognised that the tone and focus of much of the magazine’s visual, editorial and feature content spoke directly to queer men as one of the magazine’s intended audiences. Readers, too, actively participated in the magazine’s queer project, submitting and responding to personal contact ads that confirmed their place among Films and Filming’s growing and lucrative readership.

From the Publisher:

71OQJuH4v0LThe collection of essays in British Queer History takes stock of the ‘new British queer history’. It is intended both for scholars and students of British social and cultural history and of the history of sexuality, and for a broader readership interested in queer issues. In offering a snapshot of the field, this volume demonstrates the richness and promise of one of the most vibrant areas of modern British history and the complexity and breadth of discussion, debate and approach. It showcases challenging think-pieces from leading luminaries alongside some of the most original and exciting research by established and emerging young scholars. The book provides a plethora of fresh perspectives and a wealth of new information, suggests enticing avenues for research and – in bringing the whole question of sexual identity to the forefront of debate – challenges us to rethink queer history’s parameters.

Justin Bengry, ‘Films and Filming: The Making of a Queer Marketplace in Pre-decriminalization Britain’. In British Queer History: New Approaches and Perspectives edited by Brian Lewis, 244-66. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013.

Project Details


November 2013

Manchester University Press

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