Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Shepherd's Bush: Gay Liberation Front launch pad

Peter Tatchell, leader of one of the most successful civil liberties campaigns in our history, talks here in quite a moving account of his early days. It comes amid the debate going on inside the Anglican church about the direction of their institutions. Mr Tatchell is usually associated with Southwark, in fact a blue plaque was unveiled in his honour just the other week marking his time there. But did you know his early days were spent in the Bush ..

On 13 October 1970, the Gay Liberation Front was founded in Britain. It was a modest beginning, with 19 people meeting in a basement in the London School of Economics. But it grew rapidly and proved to be a defining, watershed moment in British queer history. From 1970 onwards, thanks to GLF, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) mindset changed for ever, from victims to victors.

I was an activist in the GLF, aged 19 with long curly hair and living in Shepherd's Bush with my 16-year-old boyfriend, Peter Smith. I was a student. He was a budding jazz guitarist.

GLF was a glorious, enthusiastic and often chaotic mix of anarchists, hippies, leftwingers, feminists, liberals and counter-culturalists. Despite our differences, we shared a radical idealism – a dream of what the world could and should be – free from not just homophobia but the whole sex-shame culture, which oppressed straights as much as LGBTs. We were sexual liberationists and social revolutionaries, out to turn the world upside down.

Now read on

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