MUCH OF THE WRITING about twentieth-century Scottish masculinities has focused upon the changing definitions of ‘manliness’ and its links to social, economic and domestic shifts, which have resulted in a renegotiation of men's roles. Yet despite considerable scholarship focusing on the emergence of queer masculinities in England during the interwar period, there is a paucity of research from a Scottish perspective. The notion that a solid, inflexible form of Scottish masculinity has existed relatively unchanged has rightly been challenged, but largely from a heterosexual position. Just where are Scotland's queer masculinities? This chapter will demonstrate that deviant, subversive and oppositional forms of masculinity did exist in twentieth-century Scotland, with the interwar period featuring centrally in the history of queer men and queer masculinities.
The emergence of the resolute British male has its links to Empire, where a culture of ‘otherness’ disassociated the British man from his effeminate subordinates in the colonies. Empire-driven masculinities also shunned expressive sexuality, viewing it as a dangerous threat to order and control and likely, if unrestrained, to lead to dangerous and deviant behaviours. The concept of the British soldier in World War One was built upon Edwardian notions of masculinity, which promoted self-control, emotional restraint and physical toughness. The inability of some men to adhere to these principles, as a result of either mental trauma or a failure to reassert their place within the breadwinner family model, led to considerable concerns over the shape of British manhood. Further, the queer man had come to represent an unacceptable version of masculinity, both deviant and dangerous. Noel Pemberton Billing, publisher, aviator and Member of Parliament, infamously saw within the homosexual the potential for perfidiousness, through his claim in The Imperialist magazine that Germany was infiltrating British society through the use of male and female homosexuals during World War One. German spies had allegedly formed intimate relationships with British subjects with the intention of blackmailing them for sensitive information. The homosexual was just a nudge away from treachery.
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