Molly Houses

Molly houses provided men with a safe place to meet and have sex with one another. They may have served as a clearing house for procuring boys and young men for sexual purposes and as sites of social rituals that involved the adoption of feminine roles and sometimes dress...Sex, however, was what drove the molly houses and subculture. The notorious Vere Street molly house and other taverns and private clubs were certainly sites of homosexual seduction. Sex between men, between men and boys, between exclusive sodomites and nonsodomites, is fully and specifically documented in journals, court records, and literature. Sexual activities between men seem to have involved masturbation, anal penetration, and intercrural intercourse, and, to a lesser extent, fellatio, and increasingly kissing, which in the seventeenth and early eighteenth century had been a common form of greeting between men but which by the late eighteenth century had become a sign of sodomitical tendencies. Sex occurred in pairs and in groups; boys were procured for men, and male prostitution flourished. 13




--coffee shops around the Royal Exchange

--piazzas of Covent Garden

--latrines of Lincoln's Inn

--Birdcage Walk in St. James's Park,

--Sodomites Walk in Moorfields

Public meeting places required homosexuals to use special signs, gestures or codes of recognition to identify each other and to express sexual interest.

An example is, "If one of them sits on a bench he pats the back of his hands; if you follow them, they put a white handkerchief through the skirts of their coat, and wave it to and fro; but if they are met by you, their thumbs are stuck in the armpits of their coats, and they play their fingers on their breasts. 14




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