Although Victim wasn’t the first LGBT-themed movie ever made (underground efforts and plenty of films that dealt with it through allegory came first) it still holds a special place in the history of gay cinema. For a start it’s believed to be the first mainstream English-language movie to use the word ‘homosexual’, as well as the first to explicitly make gay men (including the main character) its main subject and to show them in a sympathetic light.
It came at a time in Britain when there was a fair amount of debate over homosexuality (or at least more than there’d ever been before). In 1957 the Wolfenden Report – a commission set up to look at the laws surrounding homosexuality in the wake of a series of prosecutions against high-profile people purely for having engaged in gay sex – recommended that “homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence”. This wasn’t just because they thought that prosecuting people for what they do in the privacy of their own homes was pointless, but because there was a large problem with gay people being blackmailed over their sexuality. Some estimates say up to 90% of blackmail cases at the time involved homosexuality in one way or another. [Read more…]