The view on homosexuality in 1980s Sunderland is more diverse than you might think

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A TV clip from 1980 showing people of Sunderland sharing their views on homosexuality reveals that public opinion was more divided than one might think. The footage was filmed a year before the first case of AIDS in the UK, and seven years before the introduction of Thatcher’s anti-gay Section 28 legislation in schools.

This era was notorious for demonising LGBT+ people, but the TV clip suggests public opinion at the beginning of the decade may have been more nuanced. Locals from the town in north-east England were asked: “What does homosexuality mean to you?”

Comments 2

  1. i am from Sunderland and in 1980 i was 17 i knew i was gay but didnt do anything about it as coming from a town were my friends were either working in shipbuilding or down the mines it was what could be described as a mans town… i am quite shocked by the video as i didnt realise the people of my town were as diverse in 1980 as shown… but remember this an edited version so we dont know the real outcome of how many accepted it and how many didnt….

  2. Another question they asked was, “what would you do or what would your reaction be if you learned that your best friend was gay”, which makes the discussion much more personal and tends to de-passionate the debate and the answers. I like the way they were asking their questions.

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