‘Cruising the Seventies: Unearthing Pre-HIV/AIDS Queer Sexual Cultures’  - CruSev - explores LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) social and sexual cultures of the 1970s, and their significance for LGBTQ people across Europe now and in the future.

The three-year project is financed by the European funding agency, Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA), under the theme of ‘Uses of the Past’.

The Crucial 70s

The 1970s was an important decade for gay/lesbian/queer culture and politics, lying between the birth of the gay rights movement in the 1960s and the impact of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s.

In many countries across Europe, this was a decade of increasing yet tentative public visibility, accompanied by flourishing subcultural spaces and interactions, as well as an outpouring of overtly queer art, film, and literature.

However, the spread of HIV/AIDS across the globe in the 1980s stymied many of these developments. The CruSev project returns to places, histories, and visions of the future from the pre-HIV/AIDS era that have been lost or forgotten, which were fleeting or ephemeral, censored or destroyed.

Public attitudes today towards, and the legislative treatment of, LGBTQ people differs greatly across Europe.

By examining the shared and dissonant European experiences of persecution, discrimination, collaborative action, and protest in the 1970s across several European countries, the project intends to reframe, and ultimately transform, contemporary cultural, social and political knowledge about queer history and queer life in Europe in the present.

The CruSev Team

Cruising the 70s is led by Dr Glyn Davis, Reader and Chancellor’s Fellow in the School of Design at Edinburgh College of Art. 

The Principal Investigator of the UK research team is Dr Fiona Anderson (Newcastle University). 

The project also includes teams in Humboldt-University Berlin (Germany), the University of Warsaw (Poland) and the University of Murcia (Spain), bringing together researchers and practitioners from a variety of disciplines including art history, art practice, film, cultural studies, design and the history of sexuality.

In addition, a network of arts institutions and cultural partner organisations based in Scotland and from across Europe are supporting the project.

Photo of the interior of a bookshop
Image courtesy of CruSeV
Edinburgh's Lavender Menace bookshop in the 1980s

The CruSev project returns to places, histories, and visions of the future from the pre-HIV/AIDS era that have been lost or forgotten, which were fleeting or ephemeral, censored or destroyed.

The project so far

Cruising the 70s was launched in Edinburgh in July 2016 with a weekend of talks, screenings, and celebrations. In its first year, the project has held a symposium titled ‘Between the Sheets: Radical print cultures before the queer bookshop’ at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, and a one-day workshop titled 'How to do the history of sex' at ECA Edinburgh. 

In July 2017, the team will host a conference titled ‘A Golden Age for Queer Sexual Politics? Lesbian and Gay Literature and Film in 1970s Germany’ in Berlin. Further symposia, film screening series, discussion groups, and exhibitions are planned across the remaining two years, with the project culminating in an international conference in Edinburgh in summer 2019.

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