It’s difficult to imagine nowadays what audiences would have made of The Naked Civil Servant in 1975. Gay sex had only been (partially) decriminalised in England and Wales eight years before, and homosexuality certainly wasn’t seen on screen much. Then suddenly there was a primetime TV movie in the UK, about someone who didn’t even have the common decency to hide in the shadows and pretend being gay was the most shameful thing in the universe!
The film charts the life of Quentin Crisp (John Hurt) from his youth through to his 60s. As a young man, his parents don’t know quite what to make of their fey son, who doesn’t seem to like girls or be able to fit himself into ‘normal’ society. After meeting a bunch of ‘effeminate homosexuals’ in London, Quentin starts wearing makeup and becoming increasingly ‘noticeably gay’ at a time when homosexuality was one of society’s most detested things. [Read more…]