8 Unintentionally Gay Vintage Wartime Posters

There are many things that I will miss when I leave the UK, but that everything is so bleeding old around here is not one of them. I dropped History in school when I was 14 and haven’t looked back since (get it) but here it’s staring me in the face at every corner: in the bust of Virginia Woolf that stood in front of my first-year hall, in the free-to-access collections at the British Museum (alternatively known as the Shrine to the Empire), or in the weathered storefront of newly 35-year-old bookstore Gay’s the Word.

Okay, maybe history has its plus points.

Y’know which bit of “history” needs to go, though? This damn thing.

No.

Produced in 1939, this propaganda poster wasn’t actually publicly circulated during World War II and was instead just recently rediscovered as a commercial goldmine. It encapsulates so much of what exasperates me about this world and the study of its past: wars, nationalism, and overdone memes.

Now I’m talking history because this month is Femslash February LGBT History Month in the UK. I may not like old things but I do like queer things, and as I was perusing the history section at Gay’s the Word in some vague hope of finding a serious topic to write about, it occurred to me that (a) there’s so much more to romanticised wartime nostalgia than the ubiquitous “keep calm” franchise, and (b) you can really read lesbian subtext in anything, can’t you? So here I present to you my humble contribution to this month’s celebration of queer history, 100% made up in my head.

1.

Women in uniform, amirite?

Because women in uniform, amirite?

2.

AND INTO MY ARMS

AND INTO MY ARMS

3.

G-d, I'm sorry, I thought he'd never leave.

G-d, I thought he’d never leave.

4.

Ladies and gentlequeers, do we need to talk again about how important it is to keep your nails clean?

Ladies and gentlequeers, do we need to talk again about how important it is to keep your nails clean?

5.

"How many times is anything to do with hands funny?" "Two."

“How many times is anything to do with hands funny?” “Two.”

6.

Think hard! The fate of the Alliance depends on how dapper you look today.

Focus! The fate of the Alliance depends on how dapper you look today.

7.

"King-sized bed?" "Or separate bedrooms?" "Dibs on middle spoon."

“King-sized bed?” “Separate bedrooms?” “Dibs on middle spoon.”

8.

Yep.

CIRCLES, PAPI!

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Politiqueer, student and future cubicle drone-person fond of trees, bicycles, and strawberry sponge cake. Abuses en-dashes. Undecided about the Oxford comma. Follow her on Twitter or her occasionally updated blog.

Fikri has written 53 articles for us.

25 Comments

  1. Thumb up 19

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    This is brilliant, and I am now debating whether or not to send this to my grandmother, who loves WWII propaganda-type-stuff, esp when it’s being made fun of.

    But then I might have to explain “CIRCLES, PAPI!” to her, and I don’t think I can deal with that.

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    It’s funny, I found the “old things” to be one of the most difficult things to leave behind when I emigrated. Aside from family of course.

    I always go on a history binge when I visit home – castles, Stonehenge, historic houses, towns (York, Bath etc).

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      Y’know how people say “100 years is old in the US, and 100 miles is far in the UK”? I come from a 48-year-old nation that’s 42km measured end-to-end, so large numbers in both dimensions were virtually unfathomable to me till very recently. I mean, they made sense in my head ofc, but they didn’t really register as possible things.

      (I have done none of those historic things you talk of in my 2.5 years here!)

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    I have a bit of issue with the caption for 6.
    The poster says “I wish I were a man” and the caption is “But then I wouldn’t be able to go to A-Camp, so maybe not.”
    I know that cis men aren’t able to go to A-Camp, but not everyone that goes to A Camp identifies as a woman. A-Camp is open to people of many different gender identities. A Camp is not just for queer women. I personal don’t identify as a woman and I’ve been to A Camp and will continue to go to A Camp. When I see things like this caption or something that equates going to A Camp with identifying exclusively as a woman it makes me feel hurt and isolated.

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