I would like Jeremy to be remembered for being fearless about how he lived his life. He was unashamed of his sexuality, his issues with mental health, and his size. Indeed, he revelled in it all, as he did in life in general. He had so many other things that he thought were more important and that defined who he was more than his sexuality and he reached out and grabbed life by the horns. I think that’s a great role model for students today.-Jeremy Trevathan on his friend Jeremy Round
A new scholarship, funded by The University of Hull and graduate Jeremy Trevathan (BA Politics and Philosophy, Class of 1979) has been established to support LGBTQ+ Students. Jeremy has helped to establish the scholarships, in memory of his former partner, good friend and fellow Hull graduate Jeremy Round, the hugely respected food and cookery writer who sadly passed away in 1989.
Ten £1,000 awards will be available to support LGBTQ+ students with the costs of study. The recipients will also have the opportunity to meet with LGBTQ+ alumni, who have enjoyed success in their respective fields, for advice and question sessions.
In this moving personal piece, Jeremy discusses life as a gay student in the 1970s, the fear and challenges of coming out to friends and family, and his remarkable friend Jeremy Round.
When I arrived at Hull University I hadn’t come out yet. Gay sex between men had only been decriminalised about eight or nine years previously. It wasn’t decriminalised in Scotland or Northern Ireland until two or three years after I left.
In the first term of my first year I lived in a student house on Cranbrook Avenue, right by the main campus. As a first-year student, I shared a room with another first year called Mark from Brighton. We became good friends, though we did different things and made different friends. I remember at the Fresher’s Fair being very scared to go up to the Gay Society table in case any of my housemates saw me, but managed to grab a leaflet in passing.
One night I secretly went to a Gay Soc, as it was called back then, party and ended staying the night with a guy I met there. The next day Mark and my housemates all teased me about staying out with a girl and I went along with it, uncomfortably.
That evening, when Mark and I turned the lights out in our room and chatted in the dark – as we often did before drifting off to sleep – I told Mark I was gay and had met a bloke at a Gay Soc party. This was the first time I told anyone I was gay. I was scared but felt sure we were good enough friends. The next thing Mark was yelling and screaming and thumping me, telling me to get out of the house.
The other housemates came and separated us and everything calmed down. All the other housemates were very sympathetic and supportive to me that night. Gay rights had become something that young people were attuned to, so I felt safe with them. I slept on a sofa in the common room that night. The next day we had a house meeting to establish what happened next. Mark was adamant that he couldn’t live in the same house with me, that I was disgusting etc, though I was very relaxed about sharing the house with him, assuming that he’d come to his senses eventually.
He was, on the face of it, sympathetic to gay people but very clearly homophobic when confronted by one. There was a vote amongst my housemates and, to my surprise, after everything they had said the night before, they decided that I had to move out since I was the one who ‘had created the problem’. I was stunned and very lonely and scared. I went to the University authorities the next day and they swooped in and offered me new accommodation immediately and I moved out before the end of that day. Ironically, I ended up with my own single, much larger room in Loten Hall which was right by the Student’s Union and absolutely prime student accommodation normally reserved for 3rd year students, so there was a silver lining!
So basically, at Hull then to be gay you had to learn very quickly to be resilient, even when scared, and to read every situation and understand if you were in gay-friendly company or not. It could be stressful. I have to say the University and my two departments, Politics and Philosophy, were always very supportive and understanding.
From there I came out to my family at the end of my first term at uni. I made other friends at Hull who were either supportive, or intrigued, or gay themselves. Being gay was quite fashionable, in fact. In the media and in pop culture people were ‘coming out’ regularly and even straight men, with massive mullets, felt comfortable singing along with Tom Robinson’s (Sing If You’re) Glad To Be Gay – bizarrely that wouldn’t necessarily stop them gay bashing you. The first gay newspaper, Gay News, was launched and the first ever Gay Pride marches happened in London. Gay Equality was one of the great causes for the young generation of the period.
The Liberal Party (now the Lib Dems) became the first UK political party to support LGBT rights, passing a motion at conference to support ‘full equality for homosexuals’, including equalising the age of consent. So, we were all part of a community that were supported by some and reviled by others, and you had to find ‘your people’ to survive.
And, of course, I met my partner Jeremy Round at Hull at the beginning of my 2nd Year. We became inseparable and we were quite open about our relationship. We were known by many as ‘Jeremy Squared’ or the ‘Two J’s’.
Jeremy was a very charismatic man. In my first year I heard from friends I made about another Jeremy who had taken a year out at the end of his first year. They all told me he was amazing, highly intelligent, very funny and charming… and gay. He had a nervous breakdown at the end of his first year and had gone home, travelled and was now living in Istanbul in Turkey, but he planned to come back and finish his degree. Our friends were matchmaking. When he came back we were introduced, with much anticipation among our friends, and were both distinctly underwhelmed by each other. But gradually we became friends and then lovers.
He was very creative, amazingly persuasive and articulate and larger than life. In the summer after our finals he made a short film. He got a grant from Lincolnshire & Humberside Arts, as they were then called, persuaded the University Drama Department to lend him all the equipment, inveigled drama students and others to appear in the film (a cast of about 50), and wrote the script and directed it.
When we left university, we moved to Oxford where I was going to do a postgraduate course in publishing at Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes). Jeremy joined an amateur poetry group at the Old Fire Station in Oxford. This group became quite influential in the poetry world under the leadership of the poets Ann Stevenson and Tom Rawling. One of their members, Martyn Crucefix, wrote a highly-regarded poem about Jeremy after he died which probably describes his character better than I can (it’s at the end of this blog post: https://martyncrucefix.com/publications/beneath-tremendous-rain-1990/).
He became a really good cook and, on a whim, entered a Guardian cookery competition. To our surprise he won the competition. And as a result, he was commissioned to write an article about Turkish food for Harpers & Queen magazine (one of the photos I’ve sent of him is from that piece) and discovered that he was a really good writer. The piece caught the eye of the Editor of the Good Food Guide, the UK’s most prestigious restaurant guide, and he was asked to join as a restaurant inspector. He quickly became the Deputy Editor of the Good Food Guide.
At that point he was approached by the Independent newspaper, which was launching in the autumn of 1986. It was a major event: the first quality national newspaper launched in the UK for over a century. They were looking for a Food Editor to write for their Saturday edition. They weren’t going to compete with the Sunday papers but they planned to create a Saturday supplement, the first in Fleet Street, and they wanted the Food & Leisure section to be the lynchpin. They loved Jeremy’s irreverent style of food writing. He really wasn’t interested in food snobbery or prissiness. When he died Andreas Whittam Smith, the founder and editor, said that Jeremy’s food pages were the foundation of their dominance of the Saturday circulation wars and the other broadsheets ended up emulating the Indy as a result.
Jeremy’s style was also the precursor to the more relaxed style of food journalism that arose around Jamie Oliver and Nigel Slater. Indeed, Jeremy was responsible for Nigel Slater winning his first major award and coming to the notice of newspaper editors and book editors. He was highly regarded by the whole food community from suppliers to home cooks to chefs and cookery writers and he was awarded the highest accolade at the time for food writing, the overall Glenfiddich Award in 1989, just a few months before he died unexpectedly of a brain haemorrhage.
JEREMY ROUND was a bon viveur. He was a person that bit into life, enjoying it shamelessly with no guilt, unlike most English people. Besides that, though, he was an extremely serious food writer. He was not only interested in restaurants, but also supermarkets, the food chain, all food issues. He was very interested in bringing the consumer to be far more critical and demanding. He criticised in a very honest way, but was never blunt. He had such a passion for food that he could easily deconstruct the food itself. Few critics can do that.