I grew up in an intensely secular home on the edge of London, England. Three of my grandparents were Jewish, but my mother’s mother — and it’s the maternal line that has to be Jewish — was not. My parents weren’t only secular, but as Jews or “sort of” Jews, they had known even in generally tolerant or indifferent Britain what discrimination was like.
This was the 1960s and ’70s, and homosexuality was mentioned only in whispers. When people like my parents used the word queer — which was pretty much the only word used for gay people — it was from them less pejorative than descriptive.
The only acceptable face of homosexuality was on television, with comics camping it up and playing effeminate stereotypes all the while assuring their public that in real life they could barely keep their pants on when an attractive woman walked past. They were, of course, all gay men off camera but never the caricatures they created on TV. If they’d revealed their secret, their careers would probably have been over.
Source: Toronto Star