Prior to 1962 homosexuality was punishable by criminal sentences

Prior to 1962 engaging in homosexual sex was a felony in every single State in the USA - punishable by lengthy criminal sentences including hard labor.

In 1962 Illinois decriminalized consensual homosexual sex in the home - but it was a decade before any other State followed suit.

As recently as 2002, 14 States still carried such anti-sodomy laws on their books.

44Lawrence v. Texas45

During the long period of homosexuality's criminal status, gays communicated to each other in code out of necessity.


Certain thematic elements appear again and again in these ads - particularly the trope of a younger, more athletic man in a pool or ocean in a bathing costume and an older man in a robe or suit watching or greeting.

Others are more innocuous: a come hither look or a quiet domesticity.

Each ad on its own is easily disregarded as simply promoting friendship between men.

Viewed together, they begin to look like a concerted campaign aimed at marketing a particular type of whiskey to the US homosexual market segment.

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