The Leicester Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was reformed in 1975* by Jeff (Geoff) Martin and was operational until 1980. Over that period, they were involved in a number of local and national campaigns, most notably around the promotion of "Gayline", the local gay help/advice phone line. Campaigns included:
Picket at Scraptoft College
The picket at Scraptoft College of Education against their function entitled 'Poofs, pimps, tarts, TVs and fairies' when Leicester GLF joined Leicester Women's Liberation on 29 September 1976 to protest at a student's fancy dress ball (1). They felt that the event was derogatory and insulting. 14 people demonstrated and handed out leaflets. Two members of GLF went into the entrance hall to discuss the issues raised but people threw the screwed-up leaflets at them from the balcony and shouted at them. The Student Union said they allowed it to proceed as there were two sides to the issue.
Production in 1977 of Gay Pride issue of the Leicester Buck
The Leicester Buck was a local community newspaper that had been in production for about 2 years when GLF approached them to see if they could produce a special issue for Gay Pride week. They stated in the editorial that they hoped to highlight 'oppression and discrimination faced by gay people in Leicester and in some way to compensate for the dismissive attitude of the local press'. Few copies of the paper have survived. There is a record of one in the LSE Hall–Carpenter Archives.
Work within NUPE to produce a non-discrimination clause in their policy documents
This campaign was aimed at getting the National Union of Public Employees to adopt a policy of non-discrimination against gay people. A motion was passed at the local branch level to this effect, which was then passed onto the executive council. As a result NUPE made official representation to the TUC asking them to support fair opportunity in the work place. The TUC had no anti-discrimination policy regarding gay people. NUPE together with the NUJ sought to change this as a result of the motion passed by the Leicester Hospitals Branch of the union.
Demonstration against the Leicester Mercury
The Gayline telephone help service was set up in 1976 by a small group of people in Leicester and run from their home addresses. They tried to get an advertisement in the local paper, the Leicester Mercury, but the paper refused to accept it. As a result, Gayline organised a petition, contacted the 'National Council for Civil Liberties', the 'Press Council' and the local MP without much success. On 20 September 1977, the paper carried an editorial with the title 'Not in our columns' where they talked about 'people who practised unnatural vices’, likened the service to a paedophile organisation, and dismissed Gayline as being made up of people with 'deviant problems'. (2) As a result, Leicester GLF decided to mount a campaign against the paper by organising a march through the city. On 7 January 1978 over one hundred people marched through the city with banners. Marchers included the Leicester's Women’s Group, Birmingham Gay Community, Nalgay (NALGO gay group), The National Gay News Defence Committee, and The All London Gay group, as well as many unaffiliated people. On 27 April 1978 the Leicester Mercury reported that the Press Council had rejected Gayline's right of reply to the editorial 'Not in our columns'. (3) It was many years before the paper carried advertisements for the organisation. (4&5)
Campaign against W H Smith
The ongoing campaign against W H Smith arose as a result of their refusal to stock Gay News. In Leicester, the group picketed the shop and caused problems at the checkout by refusing to pay for purchases because they did not have Gay News available.
Organisation of a Gay Society national conference at Leicester University
On 10 & 11 March 1979 They helped to organised a National NUS Gaysocs' conference. Around 50 delegates from across the country got together at Leicester University for two days of speakers and activities. Participants included Dr Bernard Ratigan of Loughborough University, who organised a number of group activities to break down reserve and get the conference going. Barry Prothero and Terry Conway from GAA, John Shiers from Friend, Terry Sanderson and Richard McCance from CHE (Campaign for Homosexual Equality), and Sarah Benton from the Communist party Gay Rights Group also spoke at the event. Full page coverage was given in Gay News but the local paper ignored the event. (6)
1978 affiliation to Gay Activists Alliance (GAA)
In 1978 GLF affiliated themselves with the GAA. As a result, they joined other campaigns around the country and attended meetings in various cities including Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh. The Leicester group also held a meeting in Blackthorns Bookshop, a radical bookshop situated in the city. (7)
*There had been a small group in the early 1970s but this no longer existed
·1 Gay News (1976)'poofs, pimps, tarts, TVs and fairies' news editor, page 2, number 104
· 2 Leicester Mercury 'Not in our columns' editorial 20 September 1977
· 3 Leicester Mercury 'Press Council find in favour of Mercury' 27 April 1978 page 6 staff reporter
· 4 Peace News John Birdsall page 2 (13 January 1978)
· 5 Gay News (1978)'Demonstrators protest at ad ban on help-line' editor page 4 number 135
· 6 Gay News (1978) Peter Summers 'Students tackle tactics - and tactile therapy' page 1 number 163
· 7 Jeff Martin (1978) 'Gay Activists Alliance' Peace News 28 July 1978 p14