Last week the History and LGBTQ Societies were honoured to host Chris Bryant MP in celebration of the publication of his new book. The Glamour Boys tells the story of the ten queer MPs who opposed the policy of appeasement in the 1930s, realising the evil of Hitler whilst many were still spellbound by his claims to peace.
As we approach Holocaust Memorial Day, it is easy to forget how widely accepted some of Hitler’s actions were in post-war Europe, and why those who stood against appeasing the Nazi regime were truly remarkable. Sadly, this is a story that has been largely undervalued by history, as the heroism of these MPs wasn’t commemorated because of their lifestyle. It is important to make an effort to remember these forgotten periods of history, and those who made them.
What was striking about Mr Bryant’s talk was his description of being ‘queer’, a term he thinks best captures these men’s lives, in England. He spoke of the increasing criminalization of ‘buggery’ throughout the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, reminding us that whilst modernity aims to bring freedom, it can also bring conformity.
In these circumstances, the resistance of these MPs to Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement meant they put themselves in great danger. There were attempts to expose their sexuality, which led to the popular moniker the ‘Glamour Boys’. Of particular interest was the example of Victor Cazalet, a former President of Pop at Eton, who publicly abhorred the Nazi Party and sadly died in a plane crash in 1943.