The story of the Gay Liberation Front Youth Group's central London march in August 1971
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On 28 August 1971, the year before the first London Pride March, members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) Youth Group organised the first LGBTQ+ public march in the UK. Beginning with a mass gathering in Hyde Park, GLF Youth Group and allies marched through central London to their rally point of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.
The Sexual Offences Act 1967 partially decriminalised male homosexuality in England and Wales for men over the age of 21, but the age of consent for heterosexuals was 16. The GLF Youth Group used the GLF newspaper to articulate their Declaration of Youth Group Rights and called LGBTQ to join the march through Central London.
The British Library brings together participants in the first public march in the UK by LGBTQ+ people and instigators of UK Black Pride, to reflect on the meaning of Pride and community.
Gay Liberation Front was founded in October 1970 by students Aubrey Walter and Bob Mellors after encountering the American gay liberation movement at the Black Panther Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention in post-Stonewall Philadelphia (1970).
Ted Brown first encountered GLF when he was handed a leaflets the collective were distributing outside a screening of The Boys in The Band. Ted was active in the GLF Youth Group and participated in the first public march and demonstration by LGBTQ+ people in the UK on 28th August, 1971 – a year before for the first Pride march in London. Ted founded Black Lesbians and Gays against Media Homophobia, leading a campaign against The Voice magazine following its reports on the first openly gay professional footballer Justin Fashanu (1990). The 1992 campaign to stop the broadcast on commercial radio of Baju Banton’s homophobic reggae pop song Boom, Bye, Bye resulted in it being banned and a televised apology.
Phyll Opoku-Gyimah is the nucleus of the award-winning celebration and protest that is UK Black Pride. Widely known as Lady Phyll – partly due to her decision to reject an MBE in the New Year’s Honours' list to protest Britain’s role in formulating anti-LGBTQI+ penal codes across its empire – she is also the executive director of Kaleidoscope Trust, an organisation working to uphold the human rights of LGBTQI+ people around the world; a community builder and organiser; an Albert Kennedy Trust patron, and a public speaker focusing on race, gender, sexuality and class. She's regularly called upon to advise nascent LGBTQI+ organisations around the world to help leaders create cogent organising strategies, establish robust partnership networks and work effectively in service of the LGBTQI+ community.
Peter Tatchell has campaigned for LGBT+ liberation for 52 years, since 1969. An activist in the Gay Liberation Front from 1971-74 and a founding member of OutRage! 1990 -2011, he helped organise the UK's first Pride in 1972 and has marched in every Pride London parade since then. In 1973, he staged the first LGBT+ protest in a communist country, East Germany. His international solidarity activism has resulted in him being badly beaten by President Mugabe's bodyguards in Brussels in 2001 and by Russian neo-Nazis in Moscow in 2007. He is Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation: www.PeterTatchellFoundation.org
Image: GLF Youth Group demonstration against age of consent at 21 (1971), from the Hall-Carpenter Archive, London School of Economics.The British Library is a charity. Your support helps us open up a world of knowledge and inspiration for everyone. Donate today.
|Name:||Pride Before Pride|
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