The most popular of my tours of lgbt Nottingham is entitled “The 7 Deadly Gay Sins”. The Medieval world assigned colours to each of the traditional Deadly Sins. Six of these correspond to colours on the Rainbow Pride flag. My tour deals with each sin, one at a time, and I build up the Pride flag as I take my guests around the city and tell them about the sinful gay/lgbt history of Nottingham.
This short series of
articles will deal with each sin in the same manner and I’ll look at the way
they can be illustrated with lgbt heritage and build up our sinful Pride flag.
The best place to start is at the top stripe as we take a look at ANGER
and the colour RED
with which it is inextricably linked.
Over the centuries the
Christian church has included wrath, rage and fury. Impatience, revenge and
vigilantism have also been classed as Anger. Indeed, patience is the
corresponding opposite of Anger in the Catholic Church’s list of Seven Heavenly
Virtues (to be covered next year).
One word which is included
less often, however, is hate. It could be said that hate is the route cause of
all the emotions under the Anger label. Recent decades have seen governments
recognise hate as a crime in itself, specifically if it is directed against
minority groups or opposing viewpoints.
Surprisingly, one word has
never been (officially) listed under Anger, and that word is “violence”. This
is very strange because the Medieval church said that the punishment the sinful
angry would receive in Hell was to be torn apart alive violently.
Be that as it may, as far
as the lgbt community is concerned it can be said without question that it has
been a victim of Anger more than having been a perpetrator. The Medieval church
said that the sin of anger can even be directed against yourself. This is why,
until the middle of the last century, suicide was considered a crime, and the
world still sees with sadness the high levels of lgbt suicides due to bullying
There are many instances
where the Anger of lgbt men and women has led to sinful deeds. Let’s look at a
couple of them.
Close to home, quite
literally, was the murder of Grenville Carter, a gay man who loved a few doors
away from my old home in Nottingham in 1999. I wrote about this murder several years
ago, but it’s appropriate to go over it again briefly to see how it fits our
Deadly Gay Sins theme.
Grenville Carter was a
lonely man who often walked through the cemetery behind our homes, offering
rough sleepers the shelter of his home. One rough sleeper was Simon Charles,
who had already served a prison sentence for attempted murder. Grenville Carter
knew none of this, of course. During the month Charles lived with Grenville he
became annoyed at his host’s habits, and his patience ran out and turned to
rage and he murdered Grenville with an electric flex. Impatience and rage had
turned to the Deadly Gay Sin of Anger.
When it comes to other
lgbt murderers the name of several serial killers spring to mind (Denis
Nielsen, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy). However, their killing sprees were
motivated more by other sins (greed or lust, for example) rather than out of
The lesbian murderer I’ve
chosen to illustrate the Anger of impatience led to the death of an unfortunate
The body of old Mrs.
Chadwick was found in a Manchester street in 1948. Police first thought it was
a hit-and-run attack, but a trail of blood led straight to the door of her
neighbour Margaret Allen. Even though the victim was well-known as a
cantankerous old miser, Margaret Allen’s reputation was worse. Margaret behaved
like a man throughout her adulthood. She took on masculine jobs such as loading
coal and building, and acted aggressively, and sometimes violently, to people
she had little patience for. Unfortunately, this lost her a job as a bus
conductor after passengers kept complaining about her pushing, hitting and
swearing at them it they didn’t take their seat quickly enough.
After her mother’s death
Margaret slipped into a series of mental health problems which could have been
treated compassionately today. Bouts of depression and several suicide attempts
drove Margaret to drink and smoke heavily. By 1948 she was calling herself
“Bill” and claimed to have had some form of transgender operation.
On 28th August
1948 old Mrs. Chadwick called at Margaret Allen’s home for a cup of sugar. She
had enough money to buy some but often begged off her neighbours. Margaret
refused to let her into her home and lost her patience. Grabbing a coal hammer
she smashed poor Mrs. Chadwick’s skull several times and pushed her out of the
door into the street.
When arrested a couple of
days later all Margaret said was “I was in a funny mood”. Funny or not, her
characteristic impatience and quick temper led to murder. Her trial lasted only
5 hours, and the jury took less time than it took me to type this article to
find her guilty. She was hanged in January 1949 after a failed attempt by her
only friend, Mrs. Cole, who had once spurned Margaret’s amorous advances,
compiled a petition. Only 162 people signed it.
So, we can start to build
up our Deadly Rainbow Sins flag with our first Deadly Gay Sin.
We sin again in April when
we look at the sin associated with the next colour on the Pride flag, orange.
The colour gives a clue to which sin we encounter, and we will see if it feeds
our soul or our sinful appetites!