Reflections: Gay Liberation Front at 50

A crowd of Gay Liberation people.

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Hear from four activists who took part in GLF London in the early 1970s.

This is an online event. Bookers will be sent a link in advance giving access and will be able to watch at any time for 48 hours after the start time.

‘Gay liberation does not just mean reforms. It means a revolutionary change in our whole society.’ Gay Liberation Front Manifesto, 1971.

Gay Liberation Front (GLF) 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).

Though its time as a political collective was short, the impact of GLF, through newspapers, pamphlets, phone lines, discos, demonstrations, communes, street theatre and marches, lasted long after it stopped organising in late 1973. Generations of LGBTQ+ people in the UK would come to understand their oppression by society through the work of GLF.

50 years after the founding of Gay Liberation Front we bring together four activists who took part in GLF London in the early 1970s to consider the impact on their own lives and the LGBTQ+ community in the UK.

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. .

Stuart Feather encountered GLF in its first month of meetings. He attended the first GLF demonstration at Highbury Fields on November 27th 1970. A participant in GLF Street Theatre, Stuart was arrested dressed as Christian evangelist Mary Whitehouse in one of the infamous GLF actions against the fundamentalist Festival of Light during 1971. Stuart is an artist and was a core member of the award winning gender benders Bloolips (1977 to 1997). His tell-all account of GLF, Blowing the Lid: Gay Liberation, Sexual Revolution and Radical Queens (Zero Books, 2016) is, so far, the only first-hand accounts of the gay liberation movement in the UK during the 1970s

Roz Kaveney encountered GLF in the autumn of 1971: she remembers it hazily, given the counter culture nature of GLF socialising, but found it formative and apparently co-wrote the GLF Transvestite and Transsexual Groups statement of principles of 1972. Roz is an award nominated writer, poet, and renowned pop culture critic. Her semi-autobiographical work Tiny Pieces of Skull, (Team Angelica Publishing, 2015) depicts the life of an English innocent in late 1970s America and won the American Literary Award for Best Trans Fiction. SELECTED POEMS will be published in May 2021.

Angela Mason was a student at LSE during the early 1970s and an active early participant in GLF. Angela was director of the LGB campaigning organisation Stonewall from 1992 - 2002. She has been the National Adviser for Equalities and Cohesion at the Improvement and Development Agency and was Chair of the Fawcett Society from 2007 - 2013. In 2010, she was elected as a Labour councillor for Camden Borough Council.

Steven Dryden, our chair for this event, is a Sound Archive and Humanities Reference Specialist at the British Library. Steven co-curated Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty (2017, British Library) and led a series of student workshops and public lectures for the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality at Harvard University, Boston, USA (2018). Steven’s primary research interest is in the use of language by heritage organisations. His recent work has focused on the cataloguing of gender nonconforming and sexual minorities in archive and museum catalogue. Steven develops content for the British Library LGBTQ Histories website and the cultural event series <i>Notes and Queeries</i> (2019 onwards).


Name: Reflections: Gay Liberation Front at 50
Where: Online
When: -
Price: Free Event: £0.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546