26 August 2020

Tony Dyson

We have a local hero and I had never heard of him! Maybe because I wasn't around in the late fifties. And only interested in Bangor history since having moved to this area. But I am around now and there is always something to learn. So who is this hero? Some of my friends might think 'oh yeah, Tony Dyson, the bloke associated with R2D2' but that's not who I mean. We have our own, non-star-wars-associated Tony Dyson here. So how did I find out? There was an email going out to University staff that there would be a Zoom meeting, called 'panad with Pride' (panad being a cuppa), organised by the Bangor University LGBTQ+ society, during which a scholar from South (!) Wales would talk about the Gay history of Bangor. And for the initiated, clearly not me, that meant: at least mention of Tony Dyson. 

Dyson was actually a London-born man! But he chose Bangor to take up an academic position in English literature. And he didn't restrict himself to literature. He was gay and wasn't happy with the fact that that was illegal (or at least, putting it into practice was). And he wasn't going to hide that view. Au contraire! He was going to shout it off the Bangor rooftops. And he did that well. He managed to rally loads of politicians to his side. And with patience and insistence he managed to get his way, be it that it took a decade. In 1967 gay sex (if consensual, private and not involving men under 21) stopped being illegal. Success! And was it perfect? No clearly not; why the difference in age of consent with the straights? But it was 1967. And it was a massive step forward! And I didn't know this man had been so pivotal in that change. One learns! 

If you read up on the history of a place, you might end up just reading about straight white cisgender able-bodied men. And this sort of talks is important to address that imbalance! The speaker had actually published a book: A small gay history of Wales, and I should read it, but then again. I should read so much, and I have barely read books at all since lockdown. So maybe I should first address that imbalance, and then go order and read that book! I will learn more.  

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Tony Dyson

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