The Gay Activist’s Alliance

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A march organised by the Gay Activists Alliance | Undated | Location unknown | Public domain | 14310

The Gay Activist’s Alliance was one of the first gay political groups to form following the Stonewall Riot and was founded on December 21, 1969 when people split off from the Gay Liberation Front with the goal to to secure basic human rights, dignity and freedom for all gay people. They published the Gay Activist newspaper until 1980.

GAA first met at the Church of the Holy Apostles in New York City, moving to the Firehouse at 99 Wooster Street in Soho which was occupied in May 1971 and burned down by arsonists on October 15, 1974.

Activist Jim Owles being arrested at a demo | Grey Villet/Life Magazine Archives/Getty | 14311

One of the GAA’s favourite activities was the “zap” which they pioneered, at the suggestion of Marty Robinson.

The organisation is no longer active.


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Richard Adams

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Richard Adams, left, and his partner, Anthony Sullivan | 1984 | Los Angeles Times | 14312

Gay Activist is sad to learn of the death of Richard Adams, gay marriage activist and pioneer, age 65. The LA Times reminds us of his huge contribution to gay rights.

“Thirty-seven years ago, Richard Adams made history when he and his partner of four years, Anthony Sullivan, became one of the first gay couples in the country to be granted a marriage license. It happened in Boulder, Colo., where a liberal county clerk issued licenses to six same-sex couples in the spring of 1975.

Adams had hoped to use his marriage to secure permanent residency in the United States for Sullivan, an Australian who had been in the country on a limited visa and was facing deportation.

But Colorado’s attorney general declared the Boulder marriages invalid. Several months later, Adams and Sullivan received a letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service that denied Sullivan’s petition for resident status in terms that left no doubt about the reason:

“You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots,” the notification read.”

Born in Manila on March 9, 1947, Adams immigrated to the U.S. aged 12. He studied liberal arts at the University of Minnesota and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1968. By 1971 he was working in Los Angeles, where he met Sullivan and fell in love.

But the US initially refused to let Sullivan stay and did not recognise the relationship, so in 1985, they flew to Britain and drifted through Europe for the next year.

“The pair ended their self-imposed exile after a year and came home. They lived quietly in Los Angeles to avoid drawing the attention of immigration officials, but in recent years began to appear at rallies supporting same-sex marriage.

They were encouraged by new guidelines issued by the Obama administration this fall instructing immigration officials to stop deporting foreigners in long-standing same-sex relationships with U.S. citizens.

Although the policy change came more than three decades after Adams and Sullivan raised the issue, it gave Adams “a sense of vindication.”

The day before he died, Sullivan (said) that the most important victory was that they were able to remain a couple.

“Richard looked at me,” Sullivan (said), “and said, ‘Yeah, you’re right. We’ve won.'””

Gay Activist sends condolences to Anthony, family, colleagues and friends.


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Blotting paper will never be the same again

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Matt Houlbrook | LGBT History UK | 14313

In his book “Queer London”, writer Matt Houlbrook relates the story of “Cyril”, which he gleaned from reading dusty court files. Cyril was a young gay man in London in the early 1930s, during the time when male homosexuality was completely illegal in Britain. Cyril was a regular attendee of a basement club in central London. One evening, there was a raid. Cyril found that some of the men he had been talking to were in fact plain clothes policemen. Cyril was arrested and taken to Bow Street Police Station.

Cyril was subject to the humiliating ritual of having his cheeks rubbed with blotting paper for evidence of make-up (he wore lipstick and rouge, which was the fashion of the time). He was imprisoned pending trial then brought to trial at the Old Bailey for aiding and abetting in keeping a disorderly house. Cyril was let off.


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GALOP

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A more recent London Pride with Police Officers considerably more relaxed about everything! | Lewis Whyld/Press Association | 14314

In the early 1980s the police were notorious for their treatment of LGBT people, who were seen as an easy target for arrests and intimidation. In June 1982 the Gay London Police Monitoring Group was created to expose the systematic harassment of the gay and lesbian communities by the police and to educate them about their rights. Galop’s first major achievement was to prove that the police were using agents provocateur to gain arrests and convictions of gay men.

A splinter project, the Lesbians and Policing Project was also developed.

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GALOP Annual Report Cover | 1992 | 15519

In the 1980s a quarter of the cases Galop dealt with involved AIDS including police making home arrests in space suits. Galop encouraged gay men to come forward to report ‘queerbashing’. The Police began to understand that they needed the co-operation of the gay community to help solve homophobic crimes.

In 1988 Section 28 had become law, but for the first time consultative meetings took place between representatives of the LGBT community and the police. When members of the gay community did come forward to assist enquiries, they faced offensive behaviour from the Police, who continued to suppress public gay sexual behaviour, from displays of affection to cruising. Massive police resources were dedicated to the control of these essentially ‘victimless’ crimes despite a huge rise in crimes with genuine victims, but by the 1990s arrests for gross indecency had dramatically fallen.

Unfortunately the years 1999 to 2001 were dark ones for London’s gay community. The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry saw a huge change in police response to race hate crime. Ultimately this led to the implementation of Minimum Standards for homophobic crimes.
The Crown Prosecution Service also introduced policy guidelines for dealing with LGBT hate crimes, and the Association of Chief Police Officers set out new guidelines for more sympathetic policing of public sexual activity. Following the nail bombings in 1999, the LGBT Advisory Group to the Metropolitan Police was established.

Galop is still operational and is a charity. Galop’s Telephone number is: 020 7704 2040.


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365 gay news

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Illawarraq Info | 14315

365 Gay News was a news service originally provided as television programming by Viacom, an American media company. It was launched in 2005 as “CBS News on Logo”, Logo being a Viacom programme stream. The name was changed to 365 Gay News in 2008. The service tried to provide a comprehensive news service which covered gay stories from around the world. The venture was not financially successful and in 2009 the service became a web-only news service. That still did not succeed and it was closed in 2011.


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Clones

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Jim Drew | 14316

In the post Stonewall era, gay men in the Castro district of San Francisco adopted a working-man style of dress based on Levi 501 jeans or chinos, t-shirts, and cut down flannel shirts, accessorised with leather belts and straps, a moustache, and aviator glasses. The Clone look became one of the dominant gay fashions of the mid to late 1970s. Gay men were becoming more accepted and began to feel that they wanted to be identified as gay men and stand out more. Of course if you all look exactly the same you end up with nobody standing out, but that is another story… The look was taken up by gay magazines and by advertising, and the fashion quickly spread to other gay communities around the world.

Asos | 14317

The Clone look, er, cloned into the Bear look.


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Kenneth Kendall

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Kenneth Kendall | British Broadcasting Corporation | 14318

Gay Activist is sad to note the passing of Kenneth Kendall, age 88, after a stroke. Mr Kendall, who was born in India, served in the Coldstream Guards and took part in the D Day landings, sustaining injury. He joined the BBC as a radio announcer and news reader in 1948 and in 1955 was the first British newsreader to appear on camera on television. Gay Activist sends condolences to Mark, family, friends and colleagues.

Television news in the days before computerised news rooms | BBC/Daily Mail | 14319


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Nalgay

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A NALGAY banner on a CHE march in London in 1975 | Nottinghamshire Rainbow Heritage | 14320

Nalgay was the first gay group to form inside a British trade union, in 1974. Nalgay was set up within the National Association of local Government Officers Union, NALGO, and the founding members of Nalgay included John McKay and Howard Hyman. Nalgay’s Chris Creegan became the first out gay man to be elected onto the main union’s Executive Committee, and may have been the first out gay person in the world to serve on a Union EC. The NALGO union became part of the larger UNISON union in 1993, there continues to be an active gay group.


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A short history of British Gay media

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Help Gay Activist: We would like to list all the gay publications that have appeared in the UK. Please help us by telling us about the ones that are missing from the list. Were you involved in setting up or running a gay publication? We would be pleased to hear from you. If you have a copy of an historic gay newspaper or magazine, could you help us by scanning it and sending us a file? We would like to make .pdf files of some of the old publications available.

You can get in touch with Gay Activist easily, by just leaving a comment, and we will get back to you.

A vibrant and sustainable press and other media helps gay, lesbian and bisexual people to find out about themselves, meet others, take part in activities, form friendships and contacts, and live a fuller life. The lack of such press and media has the opposite effect.

Before law reform in 1967, it was difficult to publish openly gay magazines and news. There were some publications, but they were poorly distributed, and often were not available to many of the community. Most gay people only found out about an event of interest when it was reported in their local evening paper, or they saw an advertisement, which might have used code words to indicate to knowing gay readers that the event was a gay one.

As there was no gay media, gay men and lesbians had to communicate through straight media, which meant that communications were in “codes” that only other gay men and lesbians would recognise.

Gay people trying to find other gay people or trying to find out more about their sexuality had a particularly difficult time. There was no “gay” section on the shelves of the local library, although the adventurous library user might explore the Dewey card index system and discover a heading for “homosexuality” and a small number of books which were usually indicated with an “R” (for Restricted to over-21s). Some gay men had jobs as librarians and would slip a few titles into the library system. Naughty, naughty! There were no “gay” bookshops (although there were some scruffy inner city bookshops who were discreet). (If you did hear of an interesting gay book you could ask the library to order it for you and often it would arrive.)

There were however some occasional documentaries on television, particularly those presented by Dan Farson or on BBC2, which explored issues of homosexuality, which provided gay men and lesbians with some basic information, if they were able to watch them; that might not always have been possible in a one-television household in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

A degree of subtle subversion was in wide use. There being no ‘gay guide’, news of gay pubs and meeting places was spread by word of mouth. You found gay venues by stumbling on them, or by following your gaydar, or reading the local press of police raids on bars, and so on. There was also an unwritten rule that you might find gay bars near or associated with hospitals and theatres.

BBC radio was subverted. Gay parties were advertised as “Ruby wedding parties” on Housewive’s Choice, for instance, usually with the record “I enjoy being a girl” by Doris Day being the requested record. The use of a male and female name by gay couples of the time assisted the deception. “Bill and Doris are celebrating their Ruby Wedding in Grimsby Road, Dagenham on Saturday”. (Whether the BBC was aware that their programme had been hijacked for such purposes is not known.) The gay scene was there but ignored, and you usually had to stumble on it by accident to find it.

Local newspapers were also subverted. The Letters to the Editor page was often used to spread information and reach people who may be isolated. The playwright Joe Orton used a pseudonym, “Edna Wellthorpe (Mrs)”, to publicise his plays but also to spread information (and misinformation!) and generate debate over gay issues. Since Orton died, over the years a number of letters have appeared from the redoubtable Mrs Wellthorpe in many local newspapers. Sometimes the editorial staff are aware of the significance of the name Edna Wellthorpe but often they are not.

The term “media” includes events where people gather. Gay men and lesbians would often gather for special events, where they might make new contacts, exchange addresses and phone numbers, and socialise. The Judy Garland tour of the UK in the early 1960s was a typical example of an event which was widely supported by the gay community although not advertised as a gay event. Most of the people who went to see Judy perform, were gay, and used the event for networking as well as enjoyment.

There were a limited number of gay organisations in the 1950s to the mid 1960s but they tended to be fairly respectable and quiet organisations, hoping to keep out of the papers and persuade politicians to reform the law over a game of golf or a gin and tonic.

In the early 1960s the development of home tape recording generated a number of “tapesponding clubs” and once gay men discovered that (a) you could buy a tape recorder for about £20 and (b) for five bob join a club and get “contact lists” of other members, these clubs became a reliable, safe and private way to get to know friends in different parts of the country. One particular club’s contact lists heavily featured “single men”. The operator of the club was well aware that many of its members were gay men.

In the mid 1960s the hippy generation espoused radical politics and radical art, and the hippy newspaper “International Times” became the first publication in the UK to openly print gay contact advertisements, as well as regular features of interest to gay men and lesbians. Ink and Oz also published gay material. The International times was prosecuted for their innovation; in 1972 the Law Lords found them guilty of ‘conspiracy to corrupt public morals’ for publishing gay contact advertisements. Now, most local and regional newspapers include such advertisements.

Then in Autumn 1967 homosexuality between men over 21 in private was legalised, and it became possible to have openly gay media.

At the same time, more radical gay groups such as the Gay Liberation Front – often with the support of some religious groups – began to form and campaign, but especially, form organisations and services for the gay community. Out of that radicalism and from the experience of the GLF and CHE came the first national Gay Newspaper, Gay News. Gay News also carried personal advertisements, illegally, for some time.

Although nominally service organisations, local gay switchboards and other groups and organisations could also be regarded as media because they imparted information about the gay scene and gay life to callers and clients.

The Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) organised itself into local groups, usually in areas with developed gay communities. The local groups started their own newsletters which were usually mailed out to members, or handed out at events. These local CHE group newsletters became the gay community’s first local press. Then the national CHE organised a national newsletter called Out.

Some of the local CHE group convenors found themselves locked into long and protracted negotiations with local councillors trying to get their local public library to stock Gay News.

You would not find them in W H Smiths, but local independent book shops and especially bookshops in university towns, which had been stocking radical publications, started stocking Gay News and other gay magazines which were being launched – Him, Bona, Jeremy and others. Gay publications occasionally found their way into record shop chains. In London many street magazine stands had a few copies of Him tucked away.

Political activist groups and collectives started producing their own newsletters, such as Gay Noise, and lesbian publications also started to emerge.

Regional publications started to appear, such as Scotsgay, All Points North, and Gay East Midlands, which supported other publications such as The Pink Paper and Capital Gay. Many of these were available on subscription as well as being given away free in gay pubs and other venues such as gay cafés and the growing number of ‘gay centres’. Largely supported by advertising, and often small circulation, they provided a local or regional news service, gay guide, events listing and contact advertisements.

The Gay News newspaper folded and mutated by merging with Him to become Gay Times, a glossy magazine. Your Activist often found it difficult to reach up to the top shelf, though, so on one occasion asked two Policemen who happened to be in the shop if they would kindly reach it for him. They did – with broad smiles.

Larger media companies started to investigate the gay and lesbian market, hoping to cash in on the ‘pink pound’ and started to launch glossy magazines for gay men and lesbians. These stylish productions were more froth than radicalism but they did seem acceptable to newsagent chains and supermarkets. The market was not big enough to support more than one or two of them and most folded fairly quickly.

Producing magazines and newsletters on paper costs money and the producers of early gay news media had very little. They were reliant on the generosity of printing houses, trade unions, community centres and kind individuals who often produced the print matter for a reduced charge or even “forgot to send the bill” on a regular basis. The gay community owe a debt to these kind individuals, companies and organisations who so kindly supported our media.

Since the introduction of the internet, all has changed in the print world. Many titles are finding sustainability a challenge in the face of declining advertising revenue and declining printed copy sales. This has hit gay publications as hard as straight publications and many gay magazines have now folded. Gay news websites have not found it easy to sustain themselves. GayStarNews and PinkNews are currently available free on the internet. The internet also enables you to visit the sites of local, regional and national gay media in other countries, where they are available, and through the work of bloggers in different countries, to inform yourself and communicate on an international basis. Gay Activist receives visits from people in more than 90 countries.

Please help Gay Activist add further titles and information to this list.

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Gay News | 14321

Probably one of the best known historical UK gay titles, Gay News was formed by Denis Lemon, Martin Corbett, David Seligman, a founder member of the London Gay Switchboard collective, Ian Dunn of the Scottish Minorities Group, Glenys Parry (national chair of CHE), Suki J. Pitcher, and Doug Pollard, in June 1972. It achieved a fortnightly circulation of 19,000 copies. The paper appeared in court a number of times over personal advertisements, photographs which were claimed to be pornographic, and over a poem which was ruled as blasphemous. Gay News appears in the Who film of “Tommy”. Gay News Ltd ceased trading on 15 April 1983.

Out

Out was started by the Campaign for Homosexual Equality in 1979. It was distributed to members and supporters and was included in the membership fee. The publication ceased. CHE now publish a quarterly newsletter for members.

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Scotsgay | 14322

Scotsgay was founded in December 1994 by John Hein as a bi-monthly magazine for the lesbian, gay and bisexual community in Scotland. It is still being published.

Diva

Diva was launched in 1994, is a leading lesbian magazine, and is still being published.

Attitude

The first issue of attitude appeared in May 1994. A separate Thai edition has been published since March 2011. The ownership of the magazine has changed over the years. The magazine is still being published.

Gay East Midlands | 14323

Gay East Midlands or GEM was published during the 1980s and was founded by Colin Clews. It is no longer published.

AXM

AXM was originally called Axiom and first appeared in 1996. It was initially a free giveaway magazine. The magazine is still published online but is no longer available in print.

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Bona | 14324

Bona magazine was a soft porn magazine published in the 1970s. There is a current South African magazine under the same name.

Bent

Bent started life as All Points North (APN) and was first published in the 1980s. It is a free monthly magazine handed out at hundreds of gay bars and other gay premises.

Boyz

Boyz magazine is a free newspaper which was launched in the 1980s. It is still being published.

followup

Follow-Up | 14325

A 1970s gay magazine. No details known.

himruckus

Him | 14326

Him (Him Exclusive) was a gay magazine founded in the early 1970s. It was merged with Gay News to form Gay Times magazine, which is still being published. There is also another magazine with the same name currently being published in Hong Kong, which is not connected.

Jeremy

Jeremy was founded in 1967 by Peter Marriot and his partner Victor Wilson just after law reform and was the first openly gay British magazine to be founded. It sold itself as “the magazine for modern young men”. In an early issue was a landmark interview with David Bowie. Jeremy was regarded as somewhat old fashioned by publications such as Gay News who followed it, and were more left wing. Jeremy folded in 1972. Peter Burton was an early editor and contributor to the magazine. One of the reasons the magazine folded was financial: gay men ordering items from the magazine would send cash rather than cheques (in the early 1970s Britain was still a largely cash economy) and it is thought that money received had been taken from the till. It is no longer published.

Jeffrey

Jeffrey was a reincarnation of Jeremy in 1972 and lasted for a short while. It is no longer published.

Upstart

Upstart was a magazine published in Belfast during the 1980s. It was founded by Seán McGouran.

Gay Star

Gay Star was published by the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association, which was formed in 1975. Some issues do not go away over time: one of NIGRA’s current campaigns is “Access to Material In Libraries for the Gay Community”.

The Gay Journal

The Gay Journal was founded in 1978. It is no longer published. It was a more “learned” magazine with the emphasis on essay writing.

Gay Noise

Gay Noise was established in 1980 in South London as a radical gay fortnightly newspaper. The Radical Fairies were involved in the creation of the paper. A paid-for title, it was not economically viable and ceased publication the same year.

The Pink Paper

The Pink Paper was founded in 1987 as a newspaper, it switched to internet-only publication in June 2009 before finally closing in September 2012.

Outrage header

Outrage | 14327

Outrage was launched in 1983 published every other month. The title is no longer published.

Gay Scotland

Gay Scotland was launched in 1982 by the Scottish Homosexual Rights Group (which became Outright Scotland). It is believed to be dormant.

Out

This incarnation of Out was a free sheet launched in 1984. The title is no longer published.

London area

Capital Gay.

Capital Gay was founded by Michael Mason and Graham McKerrow in June 1981. It was a weekly publication and was handed out free of charge. During the controversy over Section 28 in December 1987, the paper’s offices were targeted in an arson attack. The paper is thought to have been the first to feature the term “HIV”. Its last edition appeared on June 30, 1995. The circulation reached 20,000.

Other resources:

Gay in the 80s – Demise of Gay News

Gay in the 80s – Capital Gay

Time Out

Gay Activist would like to thank Colin and Seán for their help in writing this article. We note that vintage gay magazines are sometimes traded on EBay.

This page was updated on 3 August 2014 to add additional titles; and to delete code referencing photographs which are no longer available. The page was updated on 5 August with additional photographs.

Page updated 5 August 2014

Picture credits:

The first issue of Gay East Midlands: Colin/Gay in the 80s | Outrage: Collection of Colin Clews | Scotsgay: John Need | Him Exclusive: Ruckus | Follow Up: A Gender Difference | Remainder: Public domain


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Robert Mapplethorpe

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Robert Mapplethorpe | Listal/Estate of Robert Mapplethorpe | 14328

Robert Mapplethorpe was born on November 4, 1946 and died on March 9, 1989 of complications arising from Aids. He was an American photographer who was known for his large-scale, highly stylized black and white portraits, photos of flowers and nudes. A strong current of sexuality runs through much of Mapplethorpe’s work. There is even a self-portrait with a bullwhip inserted in his anus. The homoerotic nature of some of his work triggered a controversy about the public funding of artworks and in some cases led to exhibits and even complete exhibitions being withdrawn.

Andy Warhol | Robert Mapplethorpe | Estate of Robert Mapplethorpe | 14329

Arts in Company reports:

“A retrospective of Mapplethorpe’s work was organized by the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute of Contemporary Art, which had received $30,000 for the show from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The retrospective, Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment, included 150 of Mapplethorpe’s images: formal portraiture, flowers, children, and carefully posed, sexually explicit, erotic scenes, some of which were sadomasochistic including the “X Portfolio”. The exhibit was scheduled to tour seven cities throughout the United States.

As the show traveled, there were a wide variety of responses to the same material. For example, in Philadelphia and Chicago, early in the tour, the show went largely unremarked and generally received positive reviews. In Chicago, the show attracted record-breaking crowds at the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

By the summer of 1989, however, with the show heading to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., outrage over Mapplethorpe’s work and the use of federal money to fund the exhibit grew to a fever pitch. Although most of the controversy focused on the gay sexual content of several of the photographs, many conservative leaders and critics also purported to find Mapplethorpe’s portraits of Black men racist and branded the nude studies of young children (both male and female) child pornography.

The outrage over Mapplethorpe’s work was fueled mainly by such conservative politicians as Jesse Helms, Dick Armey, and Alfonse D’Amato. Conservative cultural critic Richard Grenier, writing in the Washington Times, labeled Mapplethorpe “the great catamite” and fantasized about dousing the body of the photographer with kerosene and burning it.”


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