Tom Robinson’s sardonic masterpiece Glad to be Gay (on his Rising Free live EP) peaked at Number 18 in the pop charts in 1978, just 11 years after homosexuality was “decriminalised” in the UK, and during an era when it was still openly and habitually persecuted. Robinson’s song contained a verse dedicated to Peter Wells – a 21-year-old who served two years in prison for a same-sex relationship with an 18-year-old, which destroyed his life. Merrick delves into the culture and attitudes of 1970s Britain to uncover the story behind Wells’s persecution. He talks to the people who knew him, and even interviews his lover. In late 2016, the UK government still couldn’t apologise to thousands of men convicted of same-sex relationships. Peter Wells’s story highlights how the law is used to cosh what the government identifies as unacceptable outsiders.
Audio book also available, narrated by Tom Robinson himself: