Queer rights veterans celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Gay Liberation Front and reclaim Pride – 27 June 2020

Please find below press links to our 50th celebration protest of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) – to get involved email gayliberationfrontuk@gmail.com to be added to the mailing list. Our regular ‘Think In’ gatherings (physical or virtual) will be updated here.

Gay Star News – LGBT+ veterans from the 70s mark 50th anniversary of UK’s Gay Liberation Front

12 of the activists from the London Gay Liberation Front have marched to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

They took the route of the cancelled Pride in London march on Saturday (27 June) to demand LGBT+ rights in the UK and worldwide.

Moreover the veterans made five demands:

1 For the UK to stop detaining and deporting LGBT+ asylum seekers.
2 Let people define their own gender, not doctors or the state.
3 Mandatory LGBT+ education in every school.
4 For religion to get its ‘hands off women’s and LGBT+ bodies’.
5 Solidarity with Black Lives Matter and LGBT+ people of color worldwide.

The Gay Liberation Front formed in 1970 and ran until 1974. While the GLF wasn’t the first LGBT+ campaign in the UK, it ignited the modern LGBT+ rights movement in the country.

Of course, many of the LGF’s founders have now died. Just 40 supporters joined the dozen veterans to ensure social distancing.

‘Freedom, including sexual freedom, for everyone’

GLF veterans marching.
The veterans are sticking to their ‘radical’ agenda 50 years on.Tris Reid-Smith

The activists, many in their 70s and 80s, emphasized modern concerns, including Black Lives Matter during the protest.

Ted Brown, aged 70, said: ‘GLF stemmed out of Stonewall 1969, which was a riot that took place after centuries of oppression against LGBT+ people.

‘We proved that the authorities will not listen unless we fight back, make a noise and cause a disturbance, as Black Lives Matter is doing now.’

Likewise, Nettie Pollard, 70, said ‘GLF still believes in revolution’

She added: ‘50 years ago, the Gay Liberation Front said “come out, change ourselves and revolutionize the world”.

‘Joining with other oppressed groups is the only way to work toward real change. Rights can so easily be taken away again. Liberation must mean freedom, including sexual freedom, for everyone.’

Meanwhile Andrew Lumsden, 78, emphasised that visibility remains important:

‘We insist on gathering in plain sight every year because for 2,000 years we were told to be invisible.

‘And we walk in honour of the young who are fighting in every country around the world. We think of LGBTs in Hong Kong, Poland, Chechnya, Brazil and Indonesia, who seek the dignities that ought not be denied to anyone.’

And Stuart Feather, 80, described the gay liberation movement as ‘the cosmic big bang beneath heterosexual and gay society’. He said it called on people to ‘to come out – be visible – break the taboo’. 

‘Radical social change is needed now’

The GLF veterans.
The Gay Liberation Front veterans.Peter Tatchell Foundation

Meanwhile Peter Tatchell, 68, remains the UK’s most famous activist and organized the anniversary march.

He said: ‘GLF did not seek equal rights within a flawed, unjust status quo. It campaigned for the transformation of society to end straight supremacism and stood in solidarity with all other oppressed people.

‘A similar agenda of radical social change is needed now, as the UK faces the threats of COVID-19, economic meltdown, institutional racism, climate destruction and the demonisation of trans people.

We support Black Lives Matter and the just demands of black communities and black LGBT+ people, like we did in the early 1970s.’

Likewise John Lloyd, 67, recalled how the GLF had always looked beyond the UK.

He said: ‘From the outset, GLF had an internationalist perspective. In 1973, Peter and myself represented GLF at the World Youth Festival in communist East Berlin, which was attended by over 100,000 young people from all over the world.

‘We spoke out for gay liberation and staged LGBT+ protests.

‘Despite being attacked by members of our own British delegation, our interventions for the first time put LGBT+ rights on the agenda of the left, social democratic, liberal and trade union movements in the UK and other countries.’

Further press links

Gay Star News – LGBT+ veterans from the 70s mark 50th anniversary of UK’s Gay Liberation Front

Openly – OPINION: LGBT+ statues would remind us to fight for freedom – by Dan Glass

GScene – Gay Liberation Front celebrates 50 years of Pride

Pictures – Pride London 2020 Queer rights veterans celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Gay Liberation Front and reclaim Pride – 27 June 2020 – photos by Nicolas Chinardet. More photos by Getty Images and on the Peter Tatchell Foundation website.

BBC News – Veterans walk London Pride route to celebrate 50th anniversary

Guardian – LGBT+ marches from London to New York call for end to racism

Openly – LGBT+ marches from London to New York call for end to racism

Reuters – Pride: London’s Gay Liberation front turns 50 – London’s ‘Gay Liberation Front’ celebrates 50th anniversary

Shropshire Star – Campaigners march in London as main Pride celebrations move online

BBC London News – 50 YEARS OF THE GAY LIBERATION FRONT! And the aim is ‘absolute freedom for all!’ Yes Ted Brown! Minute 16.00

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