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A Molly house is an archaic 18th century English term for a tavern or private room where homosexual and cross-dressing men could meet each other and possible sexual partners. Found in most of the larger cities, Molly houses were a precursor to the modern gay bar.
In 18th century England, a "molly" referred to an effeminate male, or a sodomite. Mollies, and other third sex identities were the precursor to the 'homosexual' identity of the 20th and 21st centuries.)
Patrons of Molly houses who dressed in women's clothing were called "Mollies", they would take on a female persona, have a female name, and affect feminine mannerisms and speech. Marriage ceremonies between a Mollie and her male lover were enacted to symbolise their partnership and commitment, and the role-play at times incorporated a ritualised giving birth.
On 9 May 1726, three men (Gabriel Lawrence, William Griffin, and Thomas Wright) were hanged at Tyburn for sodomy following a raid of Margaret Clap's molly house. Charles Hitchen, the Under City Marshal (and crime lord), was also convicted (in 1727) of attempted sodomy at a Molly house.
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