Recently I came across an article that served as both an interview of late British actor John Inman, and a promotion of his then-new TV show Odd Man Out. Produced during a hiatus of Inman's hugely popular BBC program Are You Being Served?, this was a series that provided his first starring sitcom role, albeit it on the ITV network. Alas, it flopped, and was canceled after only seven episodes.
What is of note from the aforementioned article is how much it seems to focus on Inman's private life. It mentions the mews house he purchased in Little Venice (what he described as the first home he'd ever owned), and how he was still a "bachelor" at age 41. Inman died aged 71 in 2007. The article was from 1977. At the time of his death, the actor had been with his same-sex partner, Ron Lynch, for 35 years. I'll let you do the math.
Of course, hiding one's homosexuality is nothing new. Folks such as John Inman would have had to contend with a nosy media the best they could. Only ten years prior to the Odd Man Out interview was homosexuality decriminalized in parts of the UK. You can watch Basil Dearden's 1961 film Victim to get an idea of what gay men were going through to keep their lives secret at the time. And the awkwardness, fear and timidity extended well beyond the sixties and seventies.
I (briefly) bristle at the thought of John Inman hiding the fact that he's in a same-sex relationship in 1977, but then, before judging him too harshly, I remember myself and Ashley in the early 2000s. Our relationship was new, just finding its way. This was prior to Lawrence v. Texas, so there were still enforceable laws on the books regarding homosexual relations. We'd had a commitment ceremony, but it came only after much to and fro in our personal lives about just how out we wanted to be.