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    AC Benus
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

The Great Mirror of Same-Sex Love - Prose - 47. Tor Hell "Loving Soldiers in Sweden"

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Loving Soldiers in Sweden

 

The question of whether the soldiers I knew in Stockholm in the 1920s and 1930s could be called whores is complicated. To be sure, they expected some remuneration; five crowns was the usual fee. But they weren't able to draw more than 50 crowns of their pay each month, and regarded even small earnings with delight. There was an awful discrimination against soldiers in Stockholm in those days: in almost all the better cafés they were denied service and shown to the door. They were mainly country boys with no contacts in Stockholm, and the desire to get away from their dismal barracks and visit a pleasant home was very strong in them. “It is wonderful to be treated like a human being,” one of them told me. Sometimes their hosts did not want sex; lonely men picked them up just for a little company. “He just wants me to sit and talk to him,” one told me. “He offers me coffee and a little cognac. That's all. I'm glad to go to his place; it's someplace to go.” One boy, one of the nicest, said to me, “A guy sure would be dumb if he didn't go along with another guy when he gets money for it. Shit, you jack off by yourself anyway, and it's better with two doing it.” Frequently, the soldiers met men on Valhallavagen and went into the Lilljansskogen forest for sex.

I met a hundred or more boys on Valhallavagen over a 15-year period. They were not what one usually means by the “h-word,” but they did show loyalty to me when they warned me not to pick up some boy or other because “he kicks up a fuss.” With one exception, the soldiers I picked up behaved well. In a way, they were in the same boat I was. As a group, they were honorable. In fact, I regarded a soldier's uniform as a sign I could approach its wearer without evil consequences, and it was good advice in those days to “never pick up anyone who's not wearing a uniform if you want to avoid trouble.” Honorable whoring was a military tradition, but some members of the Royal Navy were an exception. They were all over the central part of town in the evenings and they were so menacing and threatening that they inspired those peculiar public debates that used to be held in those days on the subject of men and boys. My boys were from simple, sometimes proletarian backgrounds, who were working hard to find a modest and secure position in society; I was a scientist with a promising future. That many of them in their youth – and some all their lives – dared to enjoy members of their own sex does not blacken their name in the least; it only shows that they were more natural and healthier than the people who condemned them. Thanks to my experience with these boys, I began to get a perspective on the big lie about sex in our society – the ghastly deception that had made my life a nightmare. I finally overcame it. The boys and what they taught me liberated me from the psychologists and psychiatrists who were constantly warning against “perversity and decadence.” Once I had had three or four good contacts with the boys, I enjoyed life. I felt my powers grow and give me the capacity to work and achieve as much as possible. I wanted to share my happiness with my friends at work – to tell them that something remarkable had happened to me. But if, at one of our dinners, I had said that I would spend that night with a boy, they would have thought I should consult a psychiatrist. But I was healthier now than the psychiatrists.

—Tor Hell,[i]

1920s

 

 

[translator unknown]

 

 

 


[i] “Loving Soldiers in Sweden” Tor Hell, recounted in Meat. How Men Look, Act, Walk, Talk, Dress, Undress, Taste & Smell, Volume 1, San Francisco 1981, ps. 118-119, with the following note: Adapted from the memoirs of Tor Hell, [as printed] in the Swedish magazine Revolt

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Copyright © 2021 AC Benus; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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AC Benus

Posted (edited)

By all the many, many accounts by Gay men of having sex with the 'Home Guard' units stationed in the center of London, Hell's comment that "Honorable whoring was a military tradition" seems entirely true.

Why, just remember what detractors and supporters alike said of a certain soldier coming up in the world: "He's a real ladies' man, and every man's lady." That of course was bandied about in regards to a little known historical figure, named Julius Caesar 

Edited by AC Benus
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I cannot tell you how an opportunity to read something like this in my teens would have electrified me. Thanks for making it available to an audience which might need to hear its message. 

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Although, regrettable, @Puppilullhas not been on GA for a while, I asked her to search online in Sweden for more information concerning the diarist. Boyd McDonald, the editor of the STH (Straight to Hell) magazine and anthologies states that "Tor Hell" was a very prominent chemist, and something like a household name. It would be mega wonderful to have access to this man's published memoirs from the end of the 1960s 

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AC Benus

Posted (edited)

On 2/18/2022 at 8:10 AM, Parker Owens said:

I cannot tell you how an opportunity to read something like this in my teens would have electrified me. Thanks for making it available to an audience which might need to hear its message. 

Thanks for your comment, @Parker Owens! Now, in context with later installments in the prose volume of the Mirror, you can see this man's experiences were by no means isolated. The soldier (and, ahem, sailor :blushing: ) on the make were (are!) ubiquitous. In fact, I think I mentioned to you in passing a while ago that Keith Stern's 2009 Queers in History provides appendices of the Gay men and women written about in the book broken down by birth-place, nationality, occupation, etc., and the single, absolute clearest, most popular profession for an LGBT person is (drumroll, please) military personnel! A distant second is composer/musician, followed way behind in a trailing-off third...hobbles the lowly writer/poet.        

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