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Original Demo

Unreleased demo recorded with Cafe Society, 1976

Cafe Society


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The British police are the best in the world
I don’t believe one of these stories I’ve heard
‘Bout them raiding our pubs for no reason at all
Lining the customers up by the wall
Picking out people and knocking them down
Resisting arrest as they’re kicked on the ground
Searching their houses and calling them queer
I don’t believe that sort of thing happens here

So sing if you’re glad to be gay
Sing if you’re happy that way

Pictures of naked young women are fun
In Esquire and Playboy, page three of The Sun
But naked young men are corrupt and obscene
And that’s why they only bust our magazines
Read how disgusting we are in the press
In the Telegraph, People and Sunday Express
Molesters of children, corruptors of youth
It’s there in the paper it must be the truth

Sing if you’re glad to be gay
Sing if you’re happy that way

Don’t try to kid us that if you’re discreet
You’re perfectly safe as you walk down the street
You don’t have to mince or make bitchy remarks
To get beaten unconscious and left in the dark
I had a friend who was gentle and short
He was lonely one evening and went for a walk
Queerbashers caught him and kicked in his teeth
He was only hospitalised for a week

So sing if you’re glad to be gay
Sing if you’re happy that way

Have you heard the story about Peter Wells
Who one day was arrested and dragged to the cells
For being in love with a man of 18
The vicar found out they’d been having a scene
The magistrates sent him for trial by the Crown
He even appealed but they still sent him down
He was only mistreated a couple of years
Cos even in prison they look after the queers

So sing if you’re glad to be gay
Sing if you’re happy that way

So sit back and watch as they close down our clubs
Arrest us for meeting and raid all our pubs
Make sure your boyfriend’s at least 21
So only your friends and your brothers get done
Lie to your workmates and lie to your folks
Put down the queens and tell anti-queer jokes
Gay Lib’s ridiculous, join the laughter
‘The buggers are legal now, what more are they after?’

And sing if you’re glad to be gay
Sing if you’re happy that way

Download MP3


Tom discusses the background, writing and recording of this version at length in the Interview.

Explanatory notes:

Glad To Be Gay badge
“Sing if you’re glad to be gay”

As Tom details in the interview, ‘Glad To Be Gay’ was a slogan on badges circulating in the mid-70s, yet would often be worn only at safe gay events and taken off to face the world outside.

“Make sure your boyfriend’s at least 21
So only your friends and your brothers get done”

Although buggery had been illegal since the 1500s, other male homosexuality was only specifically criminalised in 1885. When homosexuality was legalised in England and Wales in 1967, it was only permitted between adults in private and, despite the fact that the straight age of consent was 16, homosexual acts were only permitted for those over 21.

Thousands of men under were convicted and imprisoned under the Sex Offences Act, equivalent to rapists and paedophiles, for having consensual sex with adult men under 21.

It was lowered to 18 in 1994. After a young gay activist called Euan Sutherland took the government to the European Commission on Human Rights the age of consent was equalised in January 2001.

In Northern Ireland homosexuality was illegal until 1982, when it was allowed for those over 18. In 2000 it was dropped to 17 to give parity with the hetero age. The joint age was lowered to 16 in 2008.

In Scotland, homosexuality was illegal until 1980, when it was allowed for those over 21. It was lowered to 18 in 1995, and given parity at 16 in 2001 by the same law as England and Wales.

On the Isle of Man, homosexuality was illegal until 1992, and the age of consent was only given parity in 2006.

Talking to Tom:

Who was Peter Wells?

It was a cause celebre in Gay News and an absolute tragedy. It was literally as its told in the song, that the local vicar grassed them up, an eighteen year old and a twenty-six year old. He got two and a half years, he appealed and still got sent down. Throughout his time in prison he was beaten, abused and put in isolation wings because of his sexuality.

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