Gay shame – part 1

Updated: Mar 26

Gay shame is a central theme in Channel 4’s It’s a Sin.

Shame seriously affected the lives of the characters in this drama, which was set during the AIDS crisis in the UK during the 1980s.

I was so moved by It's a Sin, I decided to reflect on my experiences of gay shame growing up a decade later, in the 90s.

As a direct result of homophobia and the AIDS crisis of the 80s, Thatcher's government enacted Section 28. And it was Section 28 that continued to cause gay shame in the 90s and well into the 2000s.

It often amazes me how many counsellors I train, who’ve not heard of Section 28! When working with LGBTQ clients, particularly of my generation this is something we all need to know about.

What was Section 28?

A government act which stated that a local authority:

"shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality"
"promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”

Access the government legislation archives here

This was children being prevented from learning about gay people positively!

Section 28 in my primary school

Starting school in 1989, just one year after Section 28 was enacted, I sadly experienced the effects of Section 28 first hand.

I don’t remember knowing any different. I was only 5. But I do remember as the years went by how homophobic slurs and bullying were left unchallenged.

Gay people were seen as strange and diseased.

Section 28 in my high school