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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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The Left gets personal: identity, performance and the Left 1972–79

The Left gets personal: identity, performance and the Left 1972–79

(p.93) 4 The Left gets personal: identity, performance and the Left 1972–79
Gay Men and the Left in Post-war Britain

Lucy Robinson

Manchester University Press

This chapter differentiates between the competing Trotskyite parties in order to trace the variety of attempts to curtail and depose the growth of gay politics. It follows the liberationists who moved back into the Trotskyite or Stalinist Left and discusses how the Left was changing and dealing with the new forces of identity politics and of the Right. The Communist Party and some of the Trotskyite groups began to engage further with youth culture and took up the counter-culture and liberation movements' use of performance as protest. Meanwhile, punk was taking lifestyle politics and running with it. Punk offered particular possibilities for young gay men who felt that neither the reformist nor liberational models spoke to them. As Punk's initial moment was disseminated, the Left belatedly attempted to harness the rise of lifestyle and cultural politics. This is examined through the examples of the Communist Party of Great Britain's People's Jubilee, Workers Revolutionary Party's Right to Work Campaign, and the Socialist Workers Party's Anti-Nazism and Rock against Racism. The chapter also considers anti-racism and gay activism.

Keywords:   Left, gay politics, identity politics, performance, counter-culture, punk, Communist Party, anti-racism, gay activism, youth culture

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