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Gay Men and the Left in Post-war BritainHow the Personal Got Political$
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Lucy Robinson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780719074349

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719074349.001.0001

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Confronting Thatcher: the Bermondsey by-election, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners and AIDS activism

Confronting Thatcher: the Bermondsey by-election, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners and AIDS activism

Chapter:
(p.154) 6 Confronting Thatcher: the Bermondsey by-election, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners and AIDS activism
Source:
Gay Men and the Left in Post-war Britain
Author(s):

Lucy Robinson

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719074349.003.0007

This chapter looks at how the relationship between gay men and the Left was further crystallised through events in the 1980s. Although there were clear moments of out and out animosity between gay activists and the Left, there were also significant moments of unity between the two. These two poles can be traced through two gay activists at the time, Peter Tatchell and Mark Ashton. Tatchell felt the full impact of both the parliamentary and radical Left's attitudes to gay politics when he stood as Labour candidate in the Bermondsey by-election (1983). Ashton was the first out gay Secretary of the Young Communist League, a bit player in Red Wedge, and a key player in Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. Despite these shared campaigns where gay activists were able to engage with the Left without compromising the politics of their sexuality, Tatchell's experiences were ultimately more representative. By the time AIDS and Clause 28 made lesbian and gay self-defence an absolute necessity, the Left had already burnt its bridges.

Keywords:   gay men, Left, Peter Tatchell, Mark Ashton, gay politics, Bermondsey by-election, AIDS, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, Young Communist League, gay activists

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