Documentary featuring a rich mix of eyewitness testimony, archive and historical research to chart the radically changing attitudes towards Scotland's gay community.
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I was invited to this party.
It was the hostess herself who invited me.
Cilla said to me, "You've got to be there!
"The creme de la creme are going to be there!"
So I thought, well, "Why not?
"I might go along and see what this is like."
Do you come here often?
Extreme mincing was going on, effeminate behaviour,
girlie names flying back and forth all the time, "Get her, Mary!"
"Ooh, my dear!" and all that kind of stuff.
Then, about 12 o'clock, there's a ring at the doorbell.
DOORBELL RINGS, KNOCK ON DOOR
It was the polis and we're all arrested.
When they discovered they were actually being nabbed
and carted off - oh, my God, the horror!
We had been locked up,
not for having a party and drinking or dancing,
but for being gay men in Scotland in 1964.
MUSIC: Don't Leave Me This Way by The Communards
For many, many years, Scotland just didn't do gay.
The Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin.
Homosexuality wasn't for Scots.
It was dangerous, taboo, stigmatised
and was actually against the law, right up until the 1980s.
'For many of us, this is revolting...'
Caledonia was a repressed country
that seemed to take pride in its prejudices.
The one thing that the Catholics and the Protestants could agree on
was that they hated the gays.
I remember seeing my name in a school toilet.
"Robert's a poof," and I thought, "That's what's going on!"
I got summoned to guidance and was I told, quite categorically,
I cannot go around telling girls that I fancy them.
The story of how Scotland transformed
from a grey straight country to a rainbow of sexual diversity
is a tale old fears, brave queers that ends in tears.
There were decades of battling against bigotry.
I think they're a disgrace!
Moments that required great personal courage...
-You mean men dancing with men?
-And women with women, yes.
It doesn't seem possible in Scotland!
..and triumphant times when love overcame hate.
We got married as the bells were tolling on the 31st of December.
All this personal suffering, all the shame, all the guilt,
disappeared in that moment.
How did straights-ville Scotland
end up being the country that can boast the best gay rights in Europe?
Are you sitting comfortably?
It's time for the queer, queer story of Gay Scotland.
# My heart is full of love and desire for you... #
Post-war Scotland of the 1950s was not very gay.
Most people went to the kirk on a Sunday,
more than half the population voted for the Conservatives,
and the word "gay" described a jolly jig for the Gordons.
And nobody ever mentioned - ahem! - (sex.)
In Scotland, historically, there's been a reluctance,
a hesitancy to engage with sex and sexuality in general.
People were encouraged not to talk about sex.
We had one hour of sex education the whole time I was at school
and, er, we weren't allowed to ask any questions.
I vaguely remember, in second-year biology,
doing something about rabbits, but that was the extent of it.
I remember buying a book
entitled Everything A Boy Should Know About Sex,
and it was Everything A Boy Should Know About Heterosexual Sex,
but...no guidance for me.
If discussing the birds and the bees was taboo,
then the very idea of discussing the birds and the birds -
the concept of homosexual sex -
in Scotland was absolutely forbidden!
I don't think I can ever remember
homosexuality at all being discussed,
anywhere within my family or friends.
You just never heard it discussed.
There is almost a bar on talking about
same-sex desire and homosexuality, and that's, you know,
familial, that's religious, that's medical, that's social.
Growing up queer in post-war Scotland is essentially occupying
a social and sexual wilderness, a hinterland.
Male homosexuality was illegal,
was hidden under a repressive silence,
and "Jessies" were to be scorned.
As for the very idea of Scottish lassies being lesbians?!
Ach, behave yourself!
I did not know any lesbians.
I didn't know that lesbianism existed
or could exist. I just thought you loved your friends,
but you married your boyfriends.
When I was growing up,
the word lesbian was in our vocabulary, but it was,
it was a kind of fabled beast, a bit like unicorns, you know,
you'd heard about them, but you never actually met one.
It was always somebody's cousin once knew a lassie that knew one.
If there's no language or understanding of what a lesbian is
or what it is to be gay, what same-sex relationships are,
then how do you understand that that's something
that's actually feasible for you to do?
The Scots were very proud of their image as
hardworking, macho, unshowy people.
CASH REGISTER RINGS
And on the very rare occasion
that homosexual people DID make an appearance,
they were almost always feminine, flouncy, a bit posh
and very English.
What do you want these for?
-I get these terrible headaches.
-I said you shouldn't do needlepoint.
I don't do needlepoint! Not now that I'm doing the lace mats.
STUDIO AUDIENCE LAUGHS
'I think one of the things that was specifically Scottish'
about straight people's attitude to the gay subculture
was that you shouldn't be gay if you're Scots,
cos we're all terribly butch.
We're men's men! And it was thought that poofs actually belonged
south of the border somewhere, um,
and probably, the further south, the better, down near London, you know.
Kenneth Williams types were seen as,
if you were Scots, you're not supposed to be like that.
You began to see identifiable people, like Larry Grayson,
or like, um, John Inman,
not people that you could relate to, but that was the kind of image
'and you thought that's what a gay man would look like.'
Being gay was the antithesis of that robust sense
of masculinity and who you were, that physical and mental strength.
Therefore, many, um, cultural references to homosexual men
were as these weak, er, weak-minded, weak physically, effeminised bodies.
We like to stereotype. We like to suggest that you...
you couldn't be Scottish, you couldn't be a Scottish man and gay.
# I'm just a lonely boy... #
For most folks, the idea of a Scottish homosexual
was a contradiction in terms.
# ..all alone with nothing to do
# I've got everything
# That you could think of
# But all I want
# Is someone to love... #
But behind the net curtains, and far from the factory gates,
gay Scots furtively found one another.
You met people in public toilets. That was really the only place.
I don't know how you learned to go there.
I think it was more of the fact that you once used a public toilet
and saw something going on here, you know,
so that sort of rung bells, so you would go back.
There were, um... pubs near railway stations
were often busy, so there was always somewhere.
It was really eye contact, um,
and perhaps flashing a little bit here and there,
that made you know that you had met someone.
Meeting in toilets and station bars may seem rather sordid,
but for most isolated and stigmatised gay men,
there was little alternative.
It was a risky business and, in Scotland's bigger cities,
gay men began to meet at secret soirees.
The party was a great thing in Glasgow gay society,
because, at that time, the pubs shut at 10 o'clock and you'd just had
a couple of drinks and you were ready for more, and a party could be
a kitchen in Govan with three people and a bottle of wine.
We would dance
and they always kept a pile of hymnbooks beside the front door,
because, if there was a knock on the door and the police had arrived,
we would all grab a hymn book
and pretend we were having a prayer meeting.
It was almost like getting on a plane
and being shown the safety routine, you know -
"If the doorbell rings, grab a hymn book in your left hand."
When the chance occurred, on land or at sea,
there was a bit of Scotsman-on-Scotsman action.
It was actually 1958 -
'58 and '59, I was trawling -
and I didn't set out to act gay,
but clearly, you can't hide what you are.
And just climbing on the boat and the things I do,
I'd be like Julian Clary, I suppose,
-in those days, you know!
You're giving yourself away the whole time.
Far out at sea, away from their womenfolk,
Larry's fishermen friends talked coyly about "the golden rivet".
The guys would say there was a golden rivet
and I thought this was some sort of talisman put on every boat
sort of there for good fortune.
And, cos I'd asked a few people where the golden rivet was,
they'd said, "You'll find it."
Up comes the second engineer
and he's got sweat running off him, the grease,
and I says, "My God, you've got muscles, though, haven't you?"
And he took my hand and says, "I'll show you the golden rivet."
And, do you know, he showed me that golden rivet every day.
But because homosexuality was so taboo,
even those just looking for a quick "Wham, bam, thank you, Tam!"
were extremely vulnerable.
Because things could go very wrong very quickly.
The consequences of being caught were significant.
You know, being excluded from your family, being sacked.
You could just be sacked for, for even a hint of homosexuality,
never mind a prosecution.
There was also the worry that somebody might expose you.
We used to call it "scream you up".
For example, imagine you were walking through Central Station,
you saw your cousin and you stopped to talk, and then some queen
who knew you came up and went, "Oh, hello, Margaret, how are you?"
People went to prison for two, sometimes three years.
Sometimes, they were admitted to psychiatric institutions.
So the fear encompassed all points of their life.
It wasn't simply that you'd become a criminal, have a criminal record,
it meant you might potentially lose everything.
I loved Scotland.
It was the greatest place on earth for me.
Except for anything to do with my sexuality.
It was the worst place I could have been on earth, to be quite honest.
MUSIC: Secretly by Jimmy Rogers
But there was a glimmer of hope on the horizon.
After a series of homosexual scandals, after blackmail cases,
after years of furtive flirtations,
British homosexuals were about to get a more sympathetic hearing.
# ..a secret rendezvous
# Why must we steal away to steal a kiss or two?
# Why must we wait to do the things we want to do? #
In 1957, a committee, led by Lord Wolfenden,
examined the laws around prostitution and homosexuality
and the conclusions in his report
shocked God-fearing folk on both sides of the border.
Now, what about the large section in this report
which deals with homosexuality?
What we've done, or what we've recommended, is that adults -
consenting males in private -
should not have their behaviour in this matter
brought within the criminal law.
But, unfortunately for gay Scots,
our man in London would have no truck with these softie Sassenachs.
The problem for Scotland was that
there was a representative on the panel called James Adair.
James Adair presented a minority report and, in it,
he disagreed with almost all the suggestions
that the main committee had come up with.
He saw homosexuality as the first step into moral turpitude.
The Scotland he loved would be lost.
This upstanding moral, conservative, religious society
would descend into decay and would be destroyed.
Addressing the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland,
James Adair fulminated that the Wolfenden Report
would allow "perverts to practise sinning for the sake of sinning"
and he was determined that Scotland was no place for homosexuals.
In 1967, as the Summer of Love was in full swing,
the Wolfenden Report's recommendations
were implemented in England,
decriminalising homosexuality for men over 21.
But, thanks to James Adair, homosexuality in Scotland
remained illegal, classified as criminally depraved behaviour.
The permissive society certainly wasn't in Scotland.
Gay Scots were outcasts in their own country.
Anxious, alone, ashamed.
Many gay men and women made desperate efforts to fit in...
..to straighten themselves out.
I think it is almost impossible to overstate the role of conformity
and the role of peer pressure to conform.
It is absolutely a weight on people in this period.
Some sought out a psychiatric solution.
I thought that I was going to get cured and it meant
going to do group therapy.
But you can't force someone to think straight.
I mean, there were other guys there and one was gay,
and I ended up jumping into bed with him, you know.
Some doctors tried to cure homosexuals with hormones.
My doctor gave me female hormone, which was the then practice,
and you begin to grow boobs.
You don't have to shave as often and...you get a bit concerned,
but it didn't stop me wanting sex.
And I still admired guys even more than I did previously.
I even fancied the doctor himself -
-he was gorgeous.
But most lesbian and gay Scots
resigned themselves to living closeted lives.
The pressure to conform meant actually just
doing what you were told and getting married,
against every urge of your own,
against every instinct, against every sense of yourself,
was just to throw in the towel and say, "I'll have to get married."
In 1969, a brave group of gay Scots
realised that it was daft to pretend to be straight.
They couldn't, and shouldn't, have to change their sexuality,
so they'd just have to change Scotland.
And they set up SMG, a long-lost part of Scotland's radical history.
SMG stands for the Scottish Minorities Group
and its tag line was "for the rights and welfare of homosexuals".
Rather than "homosexual",
the word "minorities" was chosen, so as not to offend and, immediately,
the lives of gay men and women in Scotland's big cities improved.
We ran a little disco in the Cobweb,
underneath the Roman Catholic Chaplaincy Centre in George Square,
and that was very popular.
# Sing if you're glad to be gay
# Sing if you're happy that way... #
No alcohol was involved -
it was just sort of coffee and cakes sometimes.
There was a famous Rule 5 - no kissing and petting -
which was, of course, to try and conform with the law.
SMG's funky discos weren't just for gay guys.
For almost the very first time ever in Scotland,
SMG Ladies Night meant lesbians had a public space to meet up in
and that was thrilling.
Well, I had never danced with a woman before
and I danced with another woman who was in the group.
I told her that I'd never danced with a woman and she was astonished.
Women that I would never in a million years be able
to rub shoulders with normally. I mean, they were all like,
er, academics, professional women.
They spoke very eloquently. I learned a lot.
We have no other area that we can move about in or socialise in.
Um, for instance, I can't imagine Sheila and I getting up
in the Albany on a Saturday night and dancing together.
You were perfectly safe. If you went up and chatted someone up,
you wouldn't get a punch in the face for chatting the wrong person up.
MUSIC: Dancing Queen by ABBA
They wanted to organise events where people could meet each other
in sort of a fairly sort of, er, open and respectable sort of way.
The women met there every Tuesday night.
Tuesday night seemed to be when women always met, you know.
They could never get pubs or discos on Fridays or Saturday.
We were relegated to Tuesday nights.
# ..you can jive Having the time of your life... #
The early SMG discos attracted no more than 50 gay Scots,
but word spread and the numbers grew.
By the mid '70s, 700 people would travel from all over Scotland
to get to SMG nights.
Scotland was positively hoaching!
We'd actually start to make money, so the group was, you know,
gathering finances together and leased property in Broughton Street,
number 60, and called it the Gay Information Centre.
DISCO MUSIC PLAYS
Whilst gay dancing, gay flirting
and having a gay old time were very welcome,
SMG was about much more than the social scene.
They wanted to win over sympathetic straight Scots
and to support gay Scots. They set up a switchboard
to reach out to lonely gay people in the hills and glens.
Hello, SMG befriending service, can I help you?
'I was on the befriending team, as it was called in those days.'
You know, it was very, very sad! All the time!
Er, occasions that, you know...
I mean, a gay guy phoning from somewhere like Fort William
and crying for 15 minutes on the phone, by the words he's just said,
because he'd said the words, "I'm gay."
They opened Scotland's first lesbian and gay bookshop.
We called the bookshop Lavender Menace.
One of the aims behind the bookshop was really to create a presence
as an alternative to the bar scene,
and it fulfilled that role very well, um,
but it also distributed literature, which was just as important.
But perhaps the most courageous act
was simply to make gay Scots visible.
BUZZ OF CONVERSATION
At first glance, this might not look like
one of the most ground-breaking pieces of television
ever to have come out of Scotland.
Excuse me a minute, Malcolm. Hello, can I help you?
But in 1976, this was pure TV dynamite.
That's 25p, please.
-Thanks very much.
-Would you like some coffee while you're here?
-Right, well, let's get some over there.
A 30-minute documentary produced by SMG for the BBC to show
ordinary Scots that homosexuals were neither exotic nor scary.
We're having a disco this evening, but not in here, I hasten to add.
-A disco? What, you mean men dancing with men?
-And women with women, yes.
It doesn't seem possible in Scotland.
It happens in Scotland, yes.
I think Scottish Minorities Group deserves an enormous amount
of credit for changing things. I think...
their achievement in sort of changing public consciousness
was, you know, was enormous.
Glad To Be Gay dared to show a lesbian couple
that weren't ultra butch nor male fantasy objects.
In fact, the documentary seemed to stress that Edinburgh lesbians
could lead lives that were just as dull as straight people.
I've been wanting this for ages! I thought it was out of print. Mmm!
I saw it at the bookshop up the road.
Mmm, that smells nice.
It was a positive image. It showed, um, that basically...
all these gay people in Broughton Street coming out of the centre
were actually just ordinary people getting on with ordinary lives
and, hopefully, it was one of these defining moments of, er, making...
gay people coming out into the open and saying, you know, "We're here!
"We're not a threat, we're not dangerous, we're just ordinary."
-I've got some bad news for you.
-Oh, tell me the bad news.
-The electricity bill came this morning.
-Oh, how much?
The programme ended with a sympathetic interview
with a hairy Malcolm Rifkind and an even hairier Robin Cook.
Both politicians had been courted by SMG and both argued for law reform.
I do not think myself now that there will be much difficultly now
in obtaining a change in the law in Scotland.
Slowly, but perceptibly,
the Scottish Minorities Group changed attitudes in Scotland.
They developed a cordial relationship
with the Church of Scotland,
a cordial relationship with the Roman Catholic Church,
a cordial relationship with...
psychiatrists and psychologists and the medical profession.
These are the people we had to win over to make legal change.
They were actively pursuing an opportunity to change minds.
And change minds they did!
Do you know any homosexuals yourself?
-What do you feel about them?
Just keep away from them. They're all right, though.
As long as they dinnae bother me, I'm no' bothered.
I've nothing against them.
I think everybody's got the right to do their own thing.
As far as I'm concerned, they're the same as me -
we're all Jock Tamson's Bairns.
13 years after the law had been reformed in England,
Robin Cook lodged an amendment in
the Scottish Criminal Justice Act
and, finally, after years of campaigning,
after years of fear and fright, after years of discrimination,
homosexuality was finally decriminalised in Scotland in 1980.
MUSIC: Sunday Morning by The Velvet Underground
# Sunday morning... #
Scottish lesbians had never been illegal,
but for most people they were inconceivable.
It's hard to portray how invisible lesbians were.
For me, lesbians just did not exist, it just was not an option.
People like myself found their way towards their sexual
orientation without any idea of what it was.
I would have to look up the word "lesbian" in a dictionary
and I'd no idea what it was.
Even when lesbians tried to be more visible,
the older generation of Scots refused to see them.
I did read an article in a book
and it was about two women that had lived together, and I was quite
impressed with it, and my mother was in bed ill at the time,
so I went marching through
with this magazine and showed her the article
and she said, "Why are you showing me this?"
And I said, "Because what they're like - that's what I'M like."
I was sayin', "I'm... You're heterosexual, I'm homosexual."
And she went, "I'm no' like that!"
So, it was the word "sexual" that jumped out.
But by the 1970s, a new generation of lesbians set out to challenge
the "meet a man, get married, have weans" narrative.
In the very early '70s, things were changing,
things were dangerous, but in a good way.
There were beginning to be
fragmentations in the old social relationships.
We're one of the first liberated generations
and compared to our mothers, grandmothers, it's a huge leap.
We didn't have to marry to be in a certain position.
We had the right to choose what we did with our bodies
in terms of abortion.
1970s feminism inspired gay women,
and gay women inspired 1970s feminism.
It was really once the feminist movement got underway
I had to restructure my whole way of thinking.
A lot of times before that, you mimicked heterosexuals,
cos that's the only example there was, but then this big revelation
happened that you could actually all relax and treat each other as women.
lesbians began to make themselves more visible,
challenging the expectations of the scone-nibbling
ladies of Scotland in the process.
I sat down in this Glasgow hairdresser,
which was full of very sort of straight ladies,
of the sort I no longer felt I was.
And I said to the guy, "I need you to cut it really short.
"Could you do something sort of
"along one of these lines - whatever works for my face?"
And he said, "Yeah, OK, I could."
And as he started to cut and cut and cut and cut...
Cos we're talking about, I don't know,
it must have been about a metre of hair,
there was this deep silence that fell over salon.
"Look what she's just done to all that long, dark, lovely hair."
Feminist sexual emancipation had yet to reach the small towns
of 1970s Scotland.
To be a lesbian was to be
a target for relentless harassment and abuse.
I was actually in fear of my life, going about my business
whether walking to school,
walking home from school, walking down the high street,
living actually in fear of being attacked
because I was attacked a few times.
There was a lot of being spat on,
and when you go down the stairwell during class changes, there'd often
be people positioned at the top waiting for me.
So I often had my hair covered in spit.
And I did get asked once - the class were laughing and the teacher
asked me to leave the class and go and sort out my blazer,
and I had no idea what she meant.
And I went out and I had "queer" chalked on my back.
Then, as now...
many uptight Scottish guys found it difficult to accept lesbians.
Of course you'll get the people who'll say to
you...that, "Within every lesbian is a man."
-What would you say to that?
You know all the insults that lesbian women
get when they're out together as a couple.
Men see them, they either want to ask them if they want a threesome,
they want to insult them...
Because men are saying, "Why am I not in this equation?
"I feel left out, my feelings are hurt, my masculinity's damaged,
"and now I'm angry about it."
A mountain of names...
day after day, month after month,
year on year, eventually those things become very painful.
-Do either of you feel odd being gay women?
-How do you mean, "odd"?
Odd as people might think you're perverted.
It's very difficult for heterosexual mainstream
male culture to understand
that lesbianism has nothing to do with them.
In fact, its whole point
is that it doesn't have anything to do with them!
In macho Scotland, girl meets girl was a tricky business.
I fancied a string of girls, and in my naivety I would tell them.
I got summoned to guidance, and I was told quite categorically
I cannot go around telling girls that I fancy them, it's not
normal, it's not healthy, and it is a phase and I WILL grow out of it.
MUSIC: Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat
For most small-town girls and small-town boys, it was only when
they headed for the bigger cities that they finally found love...
When I left home and into the big city, Edinburgh, to be honest,
as a women, one had to join the antinuclear movement to get laid.
Right? There was no question.
I met this person and that was really exciting, it was, it was like
a burst of, "Oh, my God, this is perhaps how life could be."
Yeah, that is it.
It was like an unleashing of -
that sounds like some sort of porn film - pent-up tension!
The 1980s was the decade when the gays went to town.
# Run away, turn away, run away turn away, run away
MUSIC: Karma Chameleon by Culture Club
Boy George stunned Top Of The Pops...
# You come and go... #
Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon...
MUSIC: Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Frankie said, "Relax!"
# Relax... #
And in Scotland's big cities, the newly legalised gay culture
began to have a fabulous time.
# Relax... #
In Glasgow, the gay Mecca was Bennets.
# When you wanna come... #
I remember really clearly when I first went to Bennets and
I just thought,
"I couldn't even have imagined a place like this existed."
I mean, I had not even seen a gay club in film or in television.
It felt like Xanadu, you could meet anybody, you could go anywhere.
# Relax, don't do it
# When you wanna go to it
# Relax... #
There was all sorts of people there, stockbrokers and bus drivers,
leather guys, guys in suits, there were married guys,
go-go boys, dare I say?
Like hot pants, high kicking to Donna Summer.
To walk into a room and to see all these men dancing together
and kissing - I felt stressed, I actually thought,
"Something's going to happen, something bad's going to happen.
"These people can't be allowed to be having this much fun."
It was like everybody
who'd ever been bullied, in every school in the West of Scotland had
somehow found themselves in a room with great music
and great lights and good drinks,
and I just thought, "This is great."
It was all about finding a sense of community and sex
I remember voguing, I remember dancing to Mary Kiani,
really trashy Mary Kiani. And drinking Mad Dog 20/20
and just vomiting and thinking,
"I'm having the best time of my life!"
In Edinburgh, Fire Island was home to disco queens
and homosexual hedonism.
People like Divine and Eartha Kitt
in her disco incarnation came to play that club,
and I do remember up at the back of the crowd
while Divine was performing on stage, some policeman's son
who was my "thing" at the time,
sucking my cock while Divine's doing her act, and it's just...
What a wonderful... You think,
"Aye, this is life, hello."
# Hello... #
But this hedonism of Scotland's early scene
was about to be shattered.
A guy who I had shared a flat with -
there was a group of us who shared this flat -
and I saw him in Bennets, and he said he was kind of tired,
he said, "I just don't feel very well."
Almost as tiny as that.
And he sat down for a bit,
which I thought was, kind of, a bit odd that he was sitting down.
But he was dead within a few months,
seriously ill within, I think, days.
The past weekend should have been a time of outright celebration
for Britain's homosexual community, as a march through
London ended Gay Pride Week, seven days in which they commemorated
the start of the gay liberation movement.
However, the festivities were overshadowed by fear -
fear of a mysterious new disease that
has hit the homosexual community in America and has now come here.
Reports of an awful, mysterious disease killing homosexual men
began to emerge from gay communities around the world.
And in the early 1980s, HIV/AIDS arrived in Scotland.
We first heard about HIV, I think, in 1982, it was very much
the same time as it was being publicised in the United States.
It was a bit of a mystery,
and people were dying from this strange disease.
We were all suspicious of it, there was
a quite commonly-talked-about idea that it was made up,
that it was a form of prejudice, it was a discriminatory thing
that straight people were making up, and it wasn't actually true.
We didn't take the government propaganda seriously, of, you know,
the falling tombstone.
-There is now a danger that has become a threat to us all.
It is a deadly disease and there is no known cure.
I was still living at home and it came on the television
one evening, and there was, kind of, silence between Mum and Dad
in the living room, and then Mum made some crack about,
"Oh, that's what the gays get."
If you ignore AIDS, it could be the death of you,
so don't die of ignorance.
Homosexual sex was once again portrayed as something to fear,
a matter of life and death.
The number of deaths in Britain to date
from the disease stands at 293.
244 of those victims were male homosexuals.
If Scotland was in any way ignorant about AIDS,
it was rudely awoken in 1985,
when over 60% of injecting drug addicts
tested at an Edinburgh hospital
were found to be HIV-positive.
As a result, the Scottish capital was labelled
the HIV capital of Europe.
"Edinburgh, the AIDS capital of Europe,"
was written in some newspaper,
by whom I cannot remember, and that has certainly stuck,
and yet it was blatantly untrue.
In 1983, The Times even warned that the Edinburgh Festival could
"become a breeding ground" for the mystery disease.
By the end of the century, there won't be
one family in the United Kingdom that isn't touched
in some way by this disease.
With little information and a lot of fear,
Scotland's homosexual community were once again stigmatised.
Because it was associated with gay men and sex,
there was a backlash.
I remember hearing people say,
"That's what they deserve." It was very much...
It fitted in with the kind of Calvinist logic of, you know...
"You do this, you get that."
As far as we were concerned, that was par for the course,
we'd lived with this for decades,
so it didn't make any difference,
what really mattered was how we were going to manage this ourselves.
Edinburgh's small gay community mobilised quickly...
But nothing would ever be quite the same...
Right from the start of me going to Edinburgh - '86 or so,
I think, the topic of conversation of part of our nights out
on a Friday or Saturday was who was sick.
In 1986, ten homosexual men were reported to have
died of AIDS in Scotland, in 1990 it was 24.
In 1991 it was 47.
By the late '80s, people were dying on a pretty regular basis,
and it was pretty devastating, because they were people you
would have known socially
and a fortnight later, they were ill...
and a month after that
they weren't around any more.
Our pal Bill was a buddy at university.
And when Bill came out with this diagnosis, it was a complete
and utter devastating shock.
That was it, it was the start of a long goodbye.
MUSIC: I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by Sleeping At Last
# When I wake up
# Well, I know I'm gonna be
# I'm gonna be the man who wakes up next to you... #
When I saw him, he was well into his illness,
he just couldn't eat
and he couldn't digest anything and he'd been living on liquids,
and he was a tiny, frail little creature.
You know, I saw him about six weeks before he died,
and leaving that hospital room,
it was just a small, little frail lump under a pile of sheets.
# And when I'm dreaming
# Well, I know I'm gonna dream
# I'm gonna dream about the time I had with you. #
So we all knew people who had died,
and despite the fact that
I had a partner,
we were both,
we both had extra-partnership affairs, as it were,
and we could have been more careful than we were...
So...we both came down with HIV, so...
it was just, you know...erm...
Life-saving combination therapy
arrived in 1996. Now, with medication, most HIV-positive people
are no longer infectious
and can expect to live as long as anyone else.
That was a godsend.
I mean, it was...
This was, you know,
at least a decade after it was
so science and medical science had really come on leaps and bounds.
And all of a sudden, people were beginning to survive.
It was extraordinary.
MUSIC: It's A Sin by Pet Shop Boys
In 1987, amidst the HIV crisis and growing calls for equality,
Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Government
went to war with the gay community.
Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values
are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay.
# It's a, it's a
# It's a sin... #
In the Local Government Act of 1988, Section 28 prohibited
the "teaching of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended
What they meant by
"pretended family relationships" was vague, and teachers risked breaking
the law if they acknowledged that gay love was possible.
Section 28 basically said you cannot talk about
non-heterosexual relationships at school.
The media eagerly stoked the prejudices of a public
already alarmed by HIV.
I obviously don't want children taught
that the gay and lesbian lifestyle is natural or normal.
It is not. It never has been and it never will be.
People, I think, thought what we were stopping people doing was
talking about hardcore sexual acts, and explaining them
in graphic detail and maybe putting on a porno or something in schools.
Obviously not. Heterosexual sex education doesn't do that,
so why on earth would same-sex sex education do that?
Of course, it wouldn't.
It was very clear that both
this was a piece of legislation that was deeply stigmatising of
people's lives, of whole communities,
the idea that you can talk about
"pretended family relationships".
That's a deeply offensive thing.
So it literally meant that
funding for things... for switchboards, help,
community centres, plays that were maybe trying to
raise awareness about homophobia, all these things.
They all got their funding cut,
everything got shut down, closed, and that was just horrendous.
Outraged gay men and lesbians came together across the UK
and protested against the intolerance of tolerance.
They even crashed the Six O'Clock News.
In the House of Lords a vote is taking place...
SHOUTS FROM SIDE
..now on a challenge to the poll tax.
Stop Section 28!
But it was vulnerable gay teenage kids
at school in the 1980s and '90s who suffered.
I came out to my guidance teachers, and when
I eventually actually told them I was gay, when I stopped denying
it and used those words, they said,
"We can't talk to you about this."
I said, "What do you mean? You talk to me about everything else,
"why can't you talk to me about this?"
And they said, "We can't talk to you about this
"because of a piece of legislation called Section 28."
If I was being bullied, teachers couldn't actually say,
"Well, you need to stop that because being gay is OK."
So, they might just have been able to say, "Shoosht."
But they weren't actually able to deal with the root of the problem.
My best friend at school, who knew he was gay,
and I knew he was gay and we were very, very, very close,
I'm here and I'm alive now. He's not, he's dead.
He committed suicide when he was 21, and who's to say
whether he would have made a different choice if he'd had more
support at school from the people who were there to support him?
In 1999, Scotland entered a new era, with the re-establishment
of the Scottish Parliament.
One of its first acts was to repeal Clause 28.
It was the first chance to declare to the watching world that
a devolved Scotland would be a progressive and modern country,
a liberal and caring place
which didn't discriminate against its minorities.
But a businessman and born-again Christian called Brian Souter
didn't fancy this vision of Scotland.
Nor did the biggest-selling Scottish newspaper.
Nor the major religions.
I hesitate to use the word perversion,
but let's face up to the truth of this situation, that's what it is.
With Brian Souter's money, they started a full-on campaign
to Keep The Clause.
Don't want to promote homosexuality in our schools.
-It's a disgrace what they're doing.
-It's ridiculous, isn't it?
-Things are just getting out of hand.
-It's terrible what they're doing.
It was a battle that would define
what kind of country Scotland would become.
Brian Souter is bankrolling
a crusade against the Executive's plans to repeal
Section 28 - a law which currently prevents schools from promoting
the acceptability of a homosexual lifestyle.
I'd walk down the street
and in just about every window, there was these,
"Keep the clause, save our children."
You know, and it felt...
I felt hated, I felt despised,
I felt like a Jew walking down the street and seeing swastikas.
There was massive bill posters all over the place -
there was one round the corner at the supermarket
and there was one up at the primary school where our youngest, Gillian,
was going at the time, basically saying that our family was wrong,
that I was an evil person,
that I had no right to be bringing up children.
Protecting children? Against what?
Against homosexuality? What are they talking about?
Paedophilia? What are they talking about here?
It was a terrible thing to do.
Having plastered almost every billboard in Scotland
with his provocative posters, Brian Souter upped the ante.
The boss of Stagecoach, millionaire Brian Souter, said he's going to pay
for a private referendum in Scotland on the repeal of Section 28.
The prospect of an unofficial referendum on
whether to keep the clause put intense pressure
on the fledgling MSPs in the new Scottish Parliament.
I think it was the last gasp, if you like, of the old Scotland,
and that wasn't just Conservative Scotland,
which still existed to some extent, but Labour Scotland,
which had always included quite a strong conservative element.
You know, working-class Scots did not tend to be liberal
on issues like homosexuality.
Souter held his unofficial referendum.
But the parliament held its nerve.
More than one million people opposed repeal in a ballot
privately funded by the wealthy businessman Brian Souter,
but the majority didn't vote.
And despite the fury of the Daily Record,
the result was an irrelevance.
Then in June 2000, Clause 28 was finally removed from Scots law.
Gay activists celebrated as Section 28 was finally scrapped in Scotland.
Next step, they said, to persuade Westminster to follow suit.
Thankfully, common sense prevailed and people went,
"You know what,
"there's starving children in the world - who cares
"who's sleeping with who, Brian Souter?
"Clearly you're not getting enough."
The new Scottish Parliament had set an important precedent,
it had stood up for the rights of gay people.
And the debate itself had forced notoriously uptight Scots
to think about gay issues.
It was discussed openly,
but it was forced onto the agenda
by the actions of the Scottish Executive, and it
had to be discussed, and the Souter referendum
meant there was discussion in the media and at public events around the country.
And I think, however unpleasant and difficult it seemed at the time,
it was quite a cathartic experience.
MUSIC: Only Girl (In The World) by Rihanna
# Want you to make me feel like I'm the only girl in the world
# Like I'm the only one that you'll ever love
# Like I'm the only one who knows your heart... #
Since the millennium,
Scottish attitudes to homosexuality have changed dramatically.
Surveys find that two-thirds of Scots
now actively approve of equal marriage.
And more than ever, it's homophobia that's taboo.
Glasgow and Edinburgh have healthy gay scenes,
with bars in Dundee and Aberdeen and LGBT groups in the Highlands.
But you must know that - surely you've been in gay bar by now?
MUSIC: Hung Up by Madonna
Well, hello there, darling...
You've never been in a gay bar in Scotland before?
Oh! Follow me!
# Time goes by, so slowly
# Time goes by, so slowly... #
Fix my camel toe, don't be lookin' at it...
People think that in a gay bar it's just gay guys dancing to Cher and Madonna -
dance, dance, dance... That just never happens.
See? Gay men playing sports...
Hello, how are you?
They love playing with balls, too...
# Waiting for your call, baby night and day
# I'm fed up... #
MUSIC PLAYS: We Are Family by Sister Sledge
# I got all my sisters with me
# We are family
# Get up everybody and sing
# We are family
# I got all my sisters... #
Civic Scotland is finally making amends for the wrongs of the past,
and Scotland's gay community is now part of the wider Scottish family in a very real way.
In 2005, the Scottish Parliament legislated for civil partnerships
for gay couples.
In 2006, same-sex couples were given the right to adopt.
In 2014, at the opening of the Commonwealth Games,
our country was being beamed out across the world to an audience of millions,
and Scotland happily promoted its new openness with a kilted gay kiss.
-Here's to equality in Scotland!
It projected a view of Scotland that said
Scotland is a liberal, inclusive and tolerant country - which it now is.
Scotland has always been a romantic country, a sentimental country.
A place many gay people have always had a great love for, and a sense of belonging to.
And last year, Scotland finally fully embraced them,
when the Scottish Parliament had a vote to legalise gay marriage.
And as if to highlight how much our society had changed,
the lesbian making the most personal plea for tenderness,
love and kindness, was the leader of the Scottish Conservatives.
We have an opportunity today to tell our nation's children that
no matter where they live and no matter who it is that they love,
there is nothing that they can't do.
I was terrified about making that speech,
but it was trying to explain that
so many people out there take completely for granted
the idea that if they find the love of their life,
then they can marry them. It wasn't on offer to me.
It was something I never grew up thinking I would be able to have.
Yes - 105. No - 18.
There were no abstentions and the
Marriage And Civil Partnership Scotland Bill is passed.
When the vote was read out at the very end,
the people in the gallery, the campaigners,
stood up and applauded.
They're not supposed to,
the presiding officers don't really like that, but the MSPs,
in turn, stood up and applauded the campaigners in the gallery,
and again there was a real sense of that connection -
the idea of a parliament
that shares power with the people, the way it's supposed to.
I just fell on my knees. I went down on my knees and I just cried.
I'm getting emotional thinking about it, but, yeah,
I get very emotional... It was a huge, huge thing for me.
I came back up upstairs to my office, afterwards,
and I just burst into tears.
It completely surprised me,
cos I'm not usually one for bursting into tears
about passing a law, do you know what I mean?
In the first six months of 2015,
over 1,250 same-sex couples have got married in Scotland.
And men marrying men, and women marrying women,
has become an everyday event.
A fantastic, moving, beautiful, tear-stained, gushing,
life-affirming, everyday event.
For us, it was a really important place to get married.
Didn't think of doing it anywhere else.
It feels significant, and the closer it gets, it feels more significant.
I just find it very emotional,
much more emotional...
Are you crying already?
-I am crying.
-He's crying already.
We got married as the bells were tolling
on the 31st of December,
with the First Minister and Patrick Harvie from the Green Party
as our witnesses.
All the politics, all the pain,
all the personal suffering,
all the shame, all the guilt, all the negative stuff that had
gone before us for 20 years disappeared in that moment.
Scotland was a fairer place,
we're more in love than we ever have been,
and it's just an enormous celebration. It was incredible.
-How are you? Hello.
Good afternoon, everyone, we welcome you here to Scotland,
to Glasgow's Art Club
and to this, their wedding day.
Equality is not a luxury,
equality is not the cashmere bed socks of politics,
equality is a basic human right.
Gay people's liberation is everybody's liberation.
I, John, take you, Stefan, to be my lawfully wedded husband.
To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health,
until death do us part.
I, Stefan, take you, John, to be my lawfully wedded husband.
To have and to hold...
-..from this day forward, for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health,
until death do us part.
This year, a European human rights monitor called The Rainbow Alliance
classed Scotland as the best country in Europe for LGBTI equality.
Scotland has excelled itself.
The legal protections that people now have are world-leading,
and that is not hyperbole.
Scottishness and LGBT identity
are not uneasy bedfellows in the way that they used to be.
Certainly we've still got a lot more work to do,
but I would say I'm very proud to be Scottish,
and proud to be Scottish LGBT.
I'm hereby delighted to declare that you, John, and you, Stefan,
are now married, and may share your first kiss as husband and husband!
MUSIC: At Last by Etta James
# At last
# My love has come along... #
We've grown from a intolerant country
where gay people were criminalised, despised and discriminated against,
to a welcoming place, where men can fall in love with men,
women can fall in love with women,
and have their love recognised and celebrated and protected by Scotland.
And live happily, gaily ever after.
# At last... #
It was great seeing everybody that we know and love, crying, smiling...
And I think they were all there with us.
It's absolutely amazing, absolutely loved it.
So, tell me, Stefan, how does it feel?
It feels lovely. I'm going to cry again!
# My heart was wrapped up in clover
# The night I looked at you... #
Celebrating the postwar history of Scotland's gay community which, over 70 years, has seen gay men and lesbians transform from Scotland's pariahs to Scotland's pride. Using a rich mix of eyewitness testimony, jaw-dropping archive and historical research, the documentary charts radically changing attitudes. Scotland was over a decade behind England and Wales in decriminalising homosexuality but now has the best gay rights in Europe: nothing short of a revolution.