Observing the 1980s
Blake, Jonathan (Part 5 of 9)
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Blake, Jonathan, (speaker, male)
Farnham, Margot, (speaker, female)
Part 5: Jonathan Blake (JB) born July 1949. Talks about family history; father's patriotism, Conservatism and Jewish faith. Anti-semitism; middle class attitudes. His private schooling; competing with his brother; feeling alienated due to Jewishness and sexuality. His early homosexual fantasies, attractions, encounters. Interest in acting, theatre; influence of John Gielgud. 'Coming out' to parents. Attitudes to his Judaism; to death; his response to his HIV status. Tape Two: talks about school environment; his sexual activities; Combined Cadet Force; his rebellious behaviour. JB's place at drama school: influence of Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley. No significant relationships at school; meeting Nigel: impact and effect. Influence of 1960s. JB's exploration of his sexual identity; his political awareness; Kings Road in 1960s. Political education when in New York, 1974-75. London gay scene; effects of Sexual Reform Act of 1967. Talks about cottaging and living a lie; danger of abuse; his interest and involvement in drama scene over emerging gay movement. His attendence at Gay Pride marches; influence of America gay culture. Tape Three: talks about working as Assistant Stage Manager at Derby Playhouse; his Equity card; gay culture in theatre: intolerance of gay political expression; anti-gay discrimination; his contempt for white middle class culture. Prominence of Solidarity in 1980. JB's involvement in Polish film. 1978-79, his work on Scottish production with Ken Campbell. Talks about working in gay restaurant; being diagnosed as HIV positive. 1983: meeting Nigel; involved with gay productions; gay liberation. Talks about vulnerable and promiscuous sexual culture re AIDS. Describes his time in New York: working; gay culture. Discusses his hatred of his middle-class upbringing; 'coming out' to his parents; hiding his HIV status; 'The Homosexual Matrix'; his mother's death. Tape Four: visiting his mother on her death bed; being excluded. Talks about his suicide attempt; joining Gays for a Nuclear Free Future; costume making and weaving; London College of Fashion; living in housing co-operative in Brixton. Miner's strike; involvement in Lesbians and Gay Men Support The Miners; JB's criticism of Thatcher era; debates in mining community re women's relationships. Talks about becoming ill; being diagnosed; his response; being tested at James Pringle House. His suicide attempt and susequent decision to become 'healthy.' Discusses death's of friends from AIDS; his attitudes to living and dying. Opera, theatre and his costume making. Tape Five: his work continued. Reflects on effect of Thatcher's rule on gay community; critical of Clause 28: licence to queer-bash; cottaging and arrests. Talks about suspicions among gay community re AIDS epidemic; considers changes needed before sexual freedom is achieved. End of interview.
Interviewed for the Hall-Carpenter Oral History Project