Friday 12 August 2011

Do you need a fag?

I got a very nice surprise earlier this week when I logged on to the LGBT History Month website. I’d been sending them information on several occasions, mainly regarding lgbt sport and the Olympics which I mentioned in a previous post. As well as the list of lgbt Olympians I compiled a history of lgbt involvement in sport from the year 14 AD. Both of these are now on the History Month website -​/updates/out-of-the-blocks-tak​es-us-to-the-future

It's a pity they spelt my name wrong!
I’m still working on them and adding new dates and events. For instance, one recent addition to an entry on the Gay Games is the participation of the 1960s Marlborough cigarette man who was famous on advertising boards around the world, Christian Haren. Another recent addition is the publication date of “The Book of Sport” written by “Queen” James I in 1617 in which he banned bear-baiting on Sundays amongst other things.

What I find amusing is that these men are on the opposite sides of tobacco addiction. Christian Haren earned a fortune as the “Marlborough Man”, presenting to the world a macho smoker that women lusted after (and a few men, given that he owned a gay bar in San Francisco and became HIV+ and spent his last years on AIDS prevention tours around American schools). King James I of Great Britain, however, detested tobacco. He wrote a very long tract denouncing smoking, and ended with one of the best sentences in the anti-smoking lobby that has never been bettered. He called smoking: “a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black stinking fume thereof nearest resembling the horrible stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless”. Nice turn of phrase, though I wouldn’t go that far myself, even though I’m a non-smoker.

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