OurStory Scotland

Becoming Visible

Exhibition of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender history in Scotland

Ian Passmore - Space for Ourselves

Photograph of Exhibit

"Why would you want to get a flat when you've a room here," was the response when I broached the idea at home. Ian and I were desperate to find a space for ourselves but didn't really know how or where we were going to do it. We both knew that there had to be gay places in Glasgow but there was no way to find out. Then in 1967 we decided to go on a camping holiday. We flew to Amsterdam from where we were going to explore Holland and Belgium. We had no idea that Amsterdam was a gay city. We were a pair of right country bumpkins from Paisley as we walked out of the train station to be pounced on by four men one after the other, "you don't want to live in a tent, you come and stay with me." A hundred Yards on we saw men strolling hand in hand in Dam Square. There were men kissing — in public.


Instead of an overnight stop we stayed for the full two weeks. The first night we actually cried in the tent. It souls stupid but it was the first time in our lives that we didn't feel like freaks, that there were actually places where you could just be yourself and nobody batted an eyelid. On our way home we decided that somehow we would find a way to live there. We arrived back in Paisley on the Friday and at work on Sunday one our mates said "Have you seen this in the News of the World." It was a two page spread on Amsterdam with the heading "Do we want our country to be a cess-pit like this." The 1967 Sexual Offences Bill was going through Parliament and we realised that if it went through then London would be the obvious place to live. The day it was passed we got drunk as skunks. We caught the train from Central Station in September, 1968 to London and when we got off at Euston I had a little piece prepared. I put my bags down and said "Now I can draw a line. I will never ever apologise for, or deny, being gay ever again. Life starts here." I'd found my gay space at last.

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