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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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Politics and culture: homosexuality and the Left in post-war Britain

Politics and culture: homosexuality and the Left in post-war Britain

(p.10) 1 Politics and culture: homosexuality and the Left in post-war Britain
Gay Men and the Left in Post-war Britain

Lucy Robinson

Manchester University Press

This chapter provides an overview of reactions to homosexuality across a broad spectrum of the Left from the late 1940s to just before the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967. During this time, we can see an increase in public discussion of homosexuality and we can also see that the social, cultural and economic changes in post-war Britain had marked implications for the Left. The working class seemed to be blurring with the middle class, and the age of affluence had unsteadied traditional alliances. The Labour Party and Communist Party both negotiated youth as a political category, but, were not able to countenance a left-wing politics of sexuality. World War II changed the ways in which many men experienced their homosexuality. This chapter also looks at the lives of two contrasting figures within the Labour Party, Tom Driberg and George Brinham. It then examines how the Trotskyite movement influenced the gay liberation movement, and later gay activism. Finally, it discusses entryism among the Left.

Keywords:   Britain, homosexuality, youth, Labour Party, Communist Party, politics, World War II, Tom Driberg, George Brinham, entryism

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