HomePoliticsGay politics1983. Politics: London Lesbian Strength March


1983. Politics: London Lesbian Strength March — 23 Comments

  1. I remember going on a couple of lesbian Strength Marches. I am pretty sure I was on the 85 and 86, perhaps 84 – not sure. I do remember it finishing at the L&G Center – that being a contentious issue as was the S&M group who, if I remember correctly lead the 86 march. This was not popular among the group of Lesbians I was with. I think we took a different route at the end and finished at the Woman’s Center next to the Embankment tube station.

    • I wanted to find out when they stopped.
      I was on the last one and remember that the end came because the lesbian strength was combined with GAY Pride which is when the march became Lesbian and Gay pride.What year i can’t remember…
      I would love to see photos, god it was such a different world then. for one we didn’t have the means of taking photos like we have now, just happens… but also you couldn’t do that because lots of people were not out and there was real fear about being outed for many women-a real and horrid risk…it has taken a long time but thank goodness this has now become easier….still there mind!

  2. i am researching the last lesbian strength march and the direct action that happened at the lesbian and gay center for a lesbian lives conference, does anyone want to direct message about it? ps i was there too

    • Not sure if anyone can pm you through here maj. If people don’t want to post a reply here then they can send it to me colin[at]gayinthe80s.com and I’ll forward it to maj. Colin

    • Sorry maj, I’m afraid I don’t have a copy; just came across it whilst researching the Lesbian Strength march. I wouldn’t even know how to locate it; it took me an extraordinary amount of time to find anything in the first place. (I’ve just done a quick Goggle now and there’s still very little coming up.) Colin

  3. I was on the last march that ended at the London lesbian gay centre, the reason that there was trouble was because the centre wanted to charge a ridiculous admission fee at the end of the march. When we refused to pay they shut the gate and we climbed over the top

  4. I’ve just found this thread as I’ve been researching and looking for images from that period. I was one of the organisers of the Lesbian Strength March up to 1987 and I’m still in touch with other women who were involved at the time. I’d be happy to be in touch with anyone who is doing research about it.

      • Hi Andy please can you share Angie’s details with me. I remember her from the Lesbian Strength Committee.
        I was helping out with the last Lesbian Strength March. Yes it was twinned with gay pride which was its death knell in many ways. It also signalled a watershed for the women’s movement in UK.
        There had been ongoing heated debate about the role of the SM community within the lesbian communty and a row got sparked about who to lead the March – black lesbian groups , Linda Bellos around those days- had strong and coherent arguments about leading the March and generally there were debates about the SM’s community insistence on also being at the front of the March.
        This debate became so contentious that it leas one of the direct contributors lending to the dissolution of the March – 1988 was the last Lesbian Strength.
        The Lesbian and Gay centre had substantial operating costs and decided to make a door charge for the after March party there – the cost included food. People were used to low cost/ free events with the GLC and also sick of Thatcherism.
        Together with considerable amounts of alcohol and drugs an energy of discontent was stirred up in many of those marching on to the Centre. At the door heated verbal exhanges broke out about being charged for admission. Then one woman forts entrance pushed foreword by the crowd and then women started trying to climb over the side gate. Anarchy followed and they police were filming as women started fighting amongst themselves on the street outside the centre – the down stairs bar was flooded in the ensuing chaos and that in effect was the end of the Lesbian Strength March.

    • Hi Angie
      I hope you see this thread. I am researching the Lesbian Strength Marches of the 1980’s as part of a project about lesbian Identity. I remember going on these marches and the comments bring back a lot of memories. Please get in touch. Julie

      • Hi Julie,
        I’ve forwarded your message directly to Angie (including your email address) as I don’t think it’s a good idea to be posting email addresses ‘in public’ in the Comments box. Hope that’s OK with you,

  5. The first march was in 1981, I was there. It included radical activists, also representatives from CHE (Campaign for Homosexual Equality) and Sappho.

  6. Hiya Colin I was on the first lesbian strength March it was on Saturday 27 June 1981 I’m writing my autobiography and want to include this march in it. I seem to remember that there were only about, 50 or so women there, can you pass my email onto Angie who was one of the organisers so that I can get more details. Thanks. Cecily 🙂

  7. Hi I was on the last lesbian strength march in 1988, we marched to the London Lesbian & Gay Centre in Farringdon. Many of the women wanted to use the toilets but the centre wanted to charge admittance, this did not go down well and a load of Dykes stormed the gates at the side trying to get in. The woman I was with at the time was not out and frightened that the police would arrive and make arrests, so we left. I was very sorry that they ended as the power you felt in being there with so many other women was intoxicating. So many things were happening then.

  8. Hi all, I was also on the very first London lesbian strength march in 1981, it left from Bressenden place in Victoria, I came alone, I was only 14, and this was a life changing experience for me to meet so many other women like me (though as you say Cecily, there was probably only 50 of us, but that was a lot for me at the time. I’d be happy to contribute my memories of that time to your autobiography, sadly I have no photos, so if anyone does of that first march, I would love to see them.

  9. Hi, I was there too on the first Lesbian Strength March in 1981, I was aged 21. The political context of Thatcherism, Northern Irish hunger strikes and conflict in Brixton and other places made this a highly charged time. We wanted a women-only space … yes, it was organised by groups like Sappho and CHE, as well as those of us identifying as radical and not having a specific group name or leader.
    No photos but some memories!

    • Hi, I was on the first march, and the others. I was a member of Lesbian Line, the phone service for Lesbians. Our banner was at the front. Photographer, Pam Isherwood, has photos. I remember there seemed to be nearly as many police as demonstrators! It was an amazing feeling to be so open.

  10. Hi, I was one of the organisers of Lesbian Pride (arranging the entertainment afterwards which included the fabulous all-women band Jam Today) – can’t now remember if it was ’81 or ’82 (or both). It seemed like far more than 50 women so maybe it wasn’t the first one in ’81. It was an interesting and exciting time. No photos unfortunately, though pics did appear in British (& French!) newspapers and other publications.

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