Gay News launched in May 1972, and was at first collectively edited by a group of people including Denis Lemon, Doug Pollard and Glenys Parry, all of whom were gay liberation campaigners before, during and after their involvement in the newspaper.
The newspapers tell an important story in the history of LGBT+ rights in the United Kingdom in the 1970s – an area of queer history that is often overlooked, partially because, in the words of Tom Robinson, “the buggers are legal now, what more are they after?”. The era covered is one where male homosexuality had been partially decriminalised, so long as only two men were doing it, and they were alone, and the building in question contained only them (ruling out hotels and having friends staying over!), and they were both over 21 – the age of consent remaining at 16 for straight people. It was an era of police harassment being the norm – LGBT+ people were not protected from straight crime, were often entrapped and arrested for the nebulous offence of “obstruction” for attempting to go into or out of gay-friendly pubs. LGBT+ people outside of the cities had a terrible, lonely time of it; those in Scotland and Northern Ireland didn’t even have the cloak of decriminalization to cover them.
Yet it was a fun a time. The newspaper revels in the joy of being gay, of having gay friends and of breaking free from the constraints of straight society in a time before the arrival of HIV and AIDS in our community. There are as many laughs to be had in its pages as there are sorrowful stories and angry rants – all of life is in these pages.
The Gay News Archive Project was created in 2016 to digitise and make accessible, for free to everybody, the early issues of the UK’s pioneering Gay News newspaper. The project is led by historian Russ J Graham with support from the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System. We are volunteers working in our spare time and the project is not-for-profit. Our initial hosting and technological needs were covered by a grant from Ray Batchelor, made in the name of his late lover Jeffrey Grace, who was a journalist and advertising manager at the newspaper, as well as other anonymous contributions.
This site contains material that may not be appropriate for those aged under 16