Dating in the 1920s

For gay men and women, romantic opportunities were also escalating.

The year 1937 saw the publication of a book called For Your Convenience, a euphemistic guide to cottaging, which marked out the best kind of public toilets in which to meet ‘like-minded’ male cohorts.

(One of the pleasantest things about modern life is the increased range of suitors.)’ Similarly, there’s a whole chapter dedicated to alcohol, covering everything from how to arrange a mini drinks cabinet to how to avoid giving your friends hangovers when you’re hostessing, the overriding conclusion being ‘it’s a wise lady who knows enough to confine her drinking to social occasions’.

On the matter of sex, the book was equally straight-talking.

The book is funny, frank and disarmingly modern in its conclusions about life without the hassle of a husband, the key tenet of which seems to be learning not to care that one is alone in the first place.As Madelaine Henrey put it, ‘They brought into our anxious lives a sudden exhilaration, the exciting feeling that we were still young and attractive and that it was tremendous fun for a young woman to be courted, however harmlessly, by quantities of generous, eager, film- star-ish young men.’ ‘Overpaid, oversexed, and over here’, the GIs were a breath of fresh transatlantic air with finances to boot.The average GI received £750 a year, compared with a British soldier’s measly £100.At around the same time, certain pubs in London became known for their queer credentials, places where both gay men and women could meet and date under the protection of a dogged status.The most notable pub of the era was the Running Horse in Shepherd Market, which had even seen the writer Radclyffe Hall drink there prior to the publication of The Well of Loneliness back in the 1920s.

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