Would you be able to ‘spot a homo’ using this 1962 newspaper column?

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Times have changed drastically for LGBT people in the UK since the 1960s.

Admittedly there is still some way to go at home and abroad until we have LGBT equality – but this newspaper article from 1962 which offers advice to “spot a homo” is quite jarring.

Published in the Sunday Mirror (which thankfully has vastly improved its coverage of LGBT issues since 1962), the article helpfully offers “some useful advice” on how to “spot a possible homo”.

Suggesting that “The Admiralty, the Foreign Office, and MI5 don’t seem to know”, how to spot the elusive homosexual.

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It warns: “You can and will meet them in London’s Bond Street, Tokio’s Ginza, Rome’s Via Veneto, Glasgow’s Sauchiehall-street, the Road to Mandalay and the street where you live…”

Discussing Soviet Union spy John Vassall, the paper expresses disbelief that a tribunal suggested it was difficult to know his sexual orientation.


John Vassall, a Soviet spy

The advice it offers is that “basically, homos fall into two groups- the obvious, and the concealed.”

“OBVIOUS: Those who dye their hair, touch up their lips, and walk with a gay little wiggle could be spotted by a One-Eyed Jack on a foggy day in Blackwall Tunnel.”

“CONCEALED: They wear silk suits and sit up at chi-chi bars with full bosomed ladies. Or they wear hair sports jackets and give their wives a black eye when they get back from the working men’s club.”

“They wrestle, play golf, ski and work up great knots of muscles lifting weights. They are married, have children.

“They are everywhere and they can be anybody. How then are we ever going to pick them out?”

The author goes on to suggest that, having spoken to a psychiatrist, there are five categories of hidden homosexuals.

“1. The middle aged man, unmarried who has an unnaturally strong affection for his mother.

“2. The man who has a consuming interest in youth. He is ready to give ALL his spare time to working and talking with boys and youths.

“3. The crawler. The ‘umble man, the man who is always saying he’s nothing and everybody else is marvellous, the man with the fixed and meaningless smile on his face. A prime suspect.

“4. The fussy dressed. When one, two or three button jackets are in he is the first to wear them. His shirts are detergent bright, his tie has the latest knot and is always just so, and he can never pass a mirror or a shop window without a sly glance at himself.”

He goes on to say the “over clean man” is the next “prime suspect.

Well, can you “spot a homo” now?