In 1941, State Solicitor for Kildare Ronald Brown was charged with fourteen counts of gross indecency. The court records and his unusual life before and after the trial suggest that there is a story worth examining. In independent Ireland, the state was particularly concerned with adult same-sex desiring men corrupting teen boys. Brown's government position, his lover's age, and their intergenerational relationship all shaped the outcomes of this case. Although gross indecency cases ruined the lives of the implicated, including Solicitor Brown and his alleged lover Leslie Price, a close reading of the case material reveals a deep affection between a late adolescent boy and an adult man that would otherwise be invisible in a forcibly closeted mid-century Ireland.
Averill Earlsis an Assistant Professor of History at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA, where she teaches courses on European and world history, sex and gender studies, and digital history methodologies. She is the executive producer of Dig: A History Podcast and the layout editor of Nursing Clio. She is currently working on her first book, which is tentatively titled “Love in the Lav: Same-Sex Desire in Dublin and Belfast, 1916–2015,” which considers the policing of same-sex sex and desire in the two Irelands. Email: email@example.com