A Personal Take on Queer History
Hopefully I’ve explained the reason for this blog in the Home page. So this bit is essentially about what I did and where I was during the 80s by way of explanation as to the source of some of the material.
In a nutshell, I was extremely mobile during that period. Leicester, Nottingham, Manchester, London, San Francisco and Los Angeles, before finally ending up in Sydney, Australia.
It was a long journey on both a personal and geographic level – I get jet-lagged just thinking about it!
On January 1st 1980 I was, of necessity, a relatively closeted residential child care worker in Leicester, England. On December 31st 1989 I was poised to take on the management of a multimillion dollar HIV/AIDS services budget in Sydney, Australia. (It seemed like a good idea at the time!)
In the intervening period I was involved in a range of projects, campaigns and other activities.
From 1980 to 1986 I was involved with projects in the UK cities of Nottingham, Leicester, London and Manchester. These included the Labour Campaign for Gay Rights, Gay Welfare Workers, Lesbian and Gay Probation Officers, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, Terrence Higgins Trust, Nottingham Gay Switchboard and Leicester University Gay Society.
In 1983 I set up Gay East Midlands magazine (GEM), partly as a local response to the demise of the national paper, Gay News. My work on GEM included writing about the emerging health crisis AIDS (so sensitively labelled ‘The Gay Plague’ by the Murdoch media) and this ultimately determined my career direction for the next 15 years.
In 1983 I also visited San Francisco and had my first experience of an organised community response to what was still a mysterious and frightening disease.
I met Bobbi Campbell – self-styled ‘AIDS poster boy’ – and I brought home a mass of resources to apply to my work in the UK.
I was also undertaking a Masters Degree in Social Work at that time and, in 1984, chose to do my dissertation on ‘AIDS as a Social Work Issue‘.
Initially, my proposal was rejected by the Head of School – on the grounds that ‘AIDS was a medical issue, not a social work one’!
Unbelievable, I know, but I argued my case and won. I then had to tutor my tutor on AIDS so he could then tutor me on my dissertation!
On completion of my degree I gravitated to the emerging AIDS industry. Initially it was in a voluntary capacity with the Terrence Higgins Trust and Nottingham AIDS Information Project.