The Relationship Between Homosexuality and Censorship

What story are we telling? I think we are engaging with the relationship that homosexuality has had with censorship.

Kerry Allen and Chris Bell, ‘Chinese broadcaster censors Rami Malek Oscars speech’, BBC News, 26 February 2019 <> [accessed 27 February 2019]

This is an ongoing story. As opposed to the UK today, censorship was politically sustained by the government. We could possibly look at the institutional changes that has occurred in the UK between the 1980s and today. Which UK institutions: centralised politics, media and art.

But why the 1980s is a question which we are still thinking about, in addition to why we’ve used ‘homosexuality’ rather than ‘LGBTQ+’ (or any anagrammatic variant thereof).

Mapplethrope was possibly able to contribute to the UK homosexual cultural and political movements which were different than in the US. Alan Hollinghurst and David Hockney—two successful gay UK artists—are who largely affected how his works were framed and received by public audiences in the UK. What does the reception of Mapplethorpe reveal about cultural movements in the UK 1980s.

How does this fit into the historical context of AIDS, and how does that informs responses to homosexual cultural objects?

Our new research question might rather then concern the impact of Mapplethorpe’s documentation of homosexuality in 1980s UK culture—ie an age of censorship in which homosexuality was represented as subversive.

Possible structure:

Introduction:  censorship as the antithesis of documentation, censorship as suppression.

Part I:

Establishing in what ways 1980s UK agents censorship homosexuality and presented it as subversive. Document’s meaning is two-fold: 1) Mapplethorpe his artistic works are documenting homosexual experience 2) how Mapplethorpe’s works themselves were documented

a) Politics: the laws (ie section n ). Jeremy Thorpe: merging homosexuality and subversive actions (ie same-sex, extra-marital affair plus murder)

b) Culture: Music Frankie ‘Relax’. Gays the Word raided by the government. 

With the desire to suppress ‘subversive’ documents, it is easy to see what work agents of censorship had cut out for themselves.

Part II: Mapplethorpe intro

a) photography as a utilitarian medium. Using it to document homosexuality.

b) analysing his works themselves

Part III:

What Mapplethrope reveals about this culture

a) his reception in the UK

i) Alan Hollinghurst and David Hockney

One thought on “The Relationship Between Homosexuality and Censorship

  1. This project looks really interesting! I found the point about photography as a ‘utilitarian medium’ interesting, it could be interesting to look into the objectivity documentary photography as a medium. A book that investigates this concisely and well is Stuart Franklin’s ‘A Documentary Impulse’.

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