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date: 31 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The formation of the Gay Liberation Front in London and the publication of the Front’s Manifesto in 1971 was a pivotal event that transformed the ways gays viewed themselves. The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was made up of an international collection of gay men living in London who were frustrated at what they saw as society’s constant efforts to humiliate and discriminate against them. Their strategy bears a striking similarity to the one pioneered by Gandhi and Steve Biko: to demonstrate to society and to oneself that the problem was not being gay; the problem was society’s homophobia. Or, in the words of one GLF activist, “Instead of us having to justify our existence, we forced the gay-haters to justify their bigotry.” The GLF used a variety of strategies and tactics to build a new sense of identity while challenging societal attitudes and norms. Civil disobedience and boycotts were combined with humorous street performances and gay-pride parades. A sense of community was reinforced by the GLF sponsorship of a gay newspaper and counseling center.

Manifesto Group of the GLF, “Manifesto” (originally printed by Russell Press/Nottingham, 1971 and reprinted by Gay Liberation Information Service/London, 1979). In Lisa Power, No Bath but Plenty of Bubbles: An Oral History of the Gay Liberation Front, 314–20. Copyright © 1995 Cassell Academic Books.

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