LGBT+ Activists and Campaigners

Author: Adam Heppell

Date: Thursday 18th February 2021

We continue our LGBT+ History Month by looking at LGBT+ activists and campaigners. 

We have recently seen Falklands War veteran Joe Ousalice have his medals returned after campaigning for years. They were stripped because of the draconian Armed Forces LGBT+ ban, abolished in 2000. LGBT+ personnel discharged on sexuality grounds will now be able to reclaim their medals.

Marsha P Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson was an African-American drag artist and activist in the 1960s and 70s. Marsha resisted arrest when police raided a gay bar and used excessive violence against those inside. She subsequently led protests and demanded rights for LGBT+ people. Alongside friend Sylvia Rivera, STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) was founded. In 1992 police found her body after she went missing and they concluded that nobody else had been responsible. After reopening the case in 2012, police reclassified Johnson's cause of death from suicide to undetermined. Her legacy remains with the Marsha P. Johnson Institute.

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The London Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM)

The group was formed in July 1984, four months into the year-long miners’ strike of 1984. Mike Jackson and Mark Ashton   organised a bucket collection to support the striking miners on the June 1984 London Pride march. Eleven people attended the initial meeting and over sixty people were involved in LGSM by the end of the strike in March 1985.  LGSM built solidarity links with the South Wales mining communities and donated funds to the Nottinghamshire Women’s Support Group. The alliance between LGSM and the South Wales miners was an important factor in establishing equality measures for the LGBT+ community.

 

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Allan Horsfall

Allan was a member of the Homosexual Law Reform Society. He helped to bring about the decriminalisation of male homosexual activity in 1967. Following the publication of the Wolfenden Report in 1957, he entered politics as a member of the Labour Party. Allan became involved in the politics of law reform, several acquaintances advised against this. Allan’s story is still revered today and continues to inspire. He spoke about campaigning in the 1960s at LGBT+ History Month events.

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Radclyffe Hall

Novelist Radclyffe Hall published The Well of Loneliness, in 1928.It was the first widely read novel written in English to address lesbianism. Originally banned in the UK, the book was the subject of much debate between the medical and legal professions. The book faced similar resistance in the USA, but it had the opposite effect and gave greater publicity for lesbianism. The book sold over 100,000 copies in its first year. Radclyffe knew the significance of publishing the book and of the difficulties faced by many of the LGBT+ community “Nothing is as spiritually degrading or undermining of one’s morale as living a lie, as keeping friends only by false pretenses.” The book remains relevant today and has been continuously published since its original release in 14 different languages.

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Gilbert Baker

Gilbert Baker was the creator of the original rainbow Pride flag that would become a prominent symbol in the LGBT+ community. He was commissioned to create a flag by another LGBT+ icon, politician Harvey Milk, for San Francisco’s annual pride parade. The original colours were pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo, and violet.  The colours represented sex, life, healing, sun, nature, art, harmony, and spirit, respectively. Gilbert said: “I like to think of those elements are in every person, everyone shares that. Flags say something.” The design was later changed to the six-stripe version because of a shortage of pink and turquoise fabric.

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Mark Bingham

A keen rugby player, Mark signed for the San Francisco Fog inclusive team. He later discussed plans to form an inclusive club in New York. He was committed to making the sport welcoming to everyone. "We have the chance to be role models for other gay folks who want to play, but never felt good or strong enough." He helped form the Gotham Knights. In 2001 he was killed in the 9/11 terror attacks while aboard the hijacked United Flight 93. Following his death, the Bingham Cup, the world’s largest amateur rugby tournament has brought together gay and inclusive teams from around the world.

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