February 2018

February is LGBT History Month in the UK and, as part of that, I’ll be giving a couple of talks.

6p.m. Tuesday, 20th February. Bateman Auditorium, Caius College, Cambridge. ‘Beyond Pride’. (Free Entry)

I’ll be joined by two other members of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners to talk about the wider context of the fight for LGBT rights in the 1980s. There will also be a screening of All Out! Dancing in Dulais, the short film made by LGSM in 1985. It was this film that inspired Stephen Beresford to write the film Pride.

My fellow speakers will be:

  • Jonathan Blake. One of the first people in the UK to be diagnosed with HIV, Jonathan is played by Dominic West in the movie ‘Pride‘.
  • Nicola Field. Nicola was a member of Women Against Pit Closures as well as LGSM. She is the author of the book ‘Over the Rainbow: Money, Class and Homophobia’.


Copies of my book and Nicola’s will be availabe for sale at a special event price.

7.30 p.m. Thursday, 22nd February, Friends Meeting House, Jesus Lane, Cambridge CB5 8BA. Section 28: The Politics of Homophobia. (Free Entry)

1988 is the 30th anniversary of the passage of Section 28 of the Local Government Act, which prohibited the spending of public money on anything that ‘promoted the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.’

In 1986 the Thatcher government rejected an almost identical Private Members Bill, arguing that it was ‘unnecessary and open to harmful misinterpretation’. Yet one year later it accepted another Conservative MPs amendment to the Local Government Act that said the same thing.

In so doing it triggered a range of homophobic attacks – including the firebombing of a gay newspaper in London. In subsequent months schools and local authorities across the country refused to have anything to do with projects or even publications that mentioned LGBT people.

And yet there were never any proceedings taken against local authorities throughout the lifetime of Section 28 (it was finally scrapped in 2003.) I shall be looking at how Section 28 came to be and asking what, if anything, was its purpose.