Gay liberation days


Jason Victor Serinus | Bay Area Reporter | April 27, 2016

Blowing the Lid: Gay Liberation, Sexual Revolution and Radical Queens, by Stuart Feather (Zero Books)

Even before Blowing the Lid reached my desk, several things about this purported history of the UK’s Gay Liberation Front had my eyebrows raised. First and foremost was its claim that the author, British Bloolips gay theatre troupe co-founder and interior design craftsman Stuart Feather, was “the first participant of the Front to write a history of the lesbian and gay men who joined Gay Liberation [UK].” While it seemed rather strange that it had taken 45 years for anyone to write a history of a movement that was founded in October 14, 1970, over 15 months after the formation of the New York Gay Liberation Front, it turned out that the claim was half hyperbole. Feather’s may in fact be the first personal memoir of the UK’s Gay Liberation Front that also claims to be a comprehensive history of the modern British gay rights movement.

While it made sense that I review the book – I lived in New York City’s pioneering 17th St. Collective, was active in NY GLF from June 1970 until its demise, paraded the streets in drag, and remain in touch with most of the key players – I knew nothing about the history of GLF UK. To be able to offer some kind of critical perspective, I requested assistance from Steven F. Dansky, an early GLF veteran and founder of the Outspoken: Oral History from LGBTQ Pioneers project. Dansky’s contributions to NY GLF are even cited in Feather’s book, although his surname is misspelled.

With Dansky’s help, I contacted two UK GLF veterans. The first was Peter Tatchell, whose work as a gay and human rights advocate is celebrated worldwide. The other was Jeffrey Weeks, a well-known gay academic whose latest book, What is Sexual History?, reaches the U.S. in May.

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