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How the personal got political
Author: Lucy Robinson

This book demonstrates how the personal became political in post-war Britain, and argues that attention to gay activism can help us to rethink fundamentally the nature of post-war politics. While the Left were fighting among themselves and the reformists were struggling with the limits of law reform, gay men started organising for themselves, first individually within existing organisations and later rejecting formal political structures altogether. Gay activists intersected with Trotskyism, Stalinism, the New Left, feminism and youth movements. As the slogan of the Gay Liberation Front proclaimed, ‘Come out, come together and change the world’. Culture, performance and identity took over from economics and class struggle, as gay men worked to change the world through the politics of sexuality. Throughout the post-war years, the new cult of the teenager in the 1950s, CND and the counter-culture of the 1960s, gay liberation, feminism, the Punk movement and the miners' strike of 1984 all helped to build a politics of identity. When AIDS and Thatcherism impacted on gay men's lives in the 1980s, gay politics came into its own. There is an assumption among many of today's politicians that young people are apathetic and disengaged. This book argues that these politicians are looking in the wrong place. People now feel that they can impact the world through the way in which they live, shop, have sex and organise their private lives. The book shows that gay men and their politics have been central to this change in the post-war world.

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Lucy Robinson

the decline of the conventional Left offered particular new possibilities for gay political organisation. But more than that, the relationship between class and identity politics also brings social and political change in post-war Britain into clearer focus, allowing us to trace changes in both political culture and the politics of culture. Setting parameters and blurring divisions Across the various forms of the Left under discussion here– both revisionist and traditional Labour, Stalinism, Marxist/Leninism and Trotskyism, a shared assumption exists; that there is

in Gay men and the Left in post-war Britain
Homosexuality and the Left in post-war Britain
Lucy Robinson

1 Politics and culture: homosexuality and the Left in post-war Britain In 1953 Adam de Hegedus wrote The Heart in Exile under the pseudonym Rodney Garland. Up to the late 1960s it was one of the most famous gay novels. The structure is based on a detective story, as a psychiatrist uncovers the reasons for an old lover’s suicide. This takes him back into the hidden homosexual underworld which he had left behind in his youth. As well as fulfilling all sorts of clichés about homosexuality, femininity and deceit, the novel offers a snapshot of the relationship

in Gay men and the Left in post-war Britain
Martin Atherton

6 Communal deaf leisure in post-war Britain Evidence drawn from deaf newspapers shows that much of the social life of deaf people was communal in nature, it involved the presence of other deaf people and was centred on the deaf clubs. This continued a tradition of participation and choice in recreation activities that dated back to before the Second World War. However, these activities were not solely restricted to the physical premises of the deaf club nor to events that only involved other deaf people. Deaf club members’ activities were influenced by what was

in Deafness, community and culture in Britain
Jonathan Rayner

TNWC02 16/11/06 11:27 AM Page 54 2 Post-war British naval films and the service comedy The war films of the 1950s together constitute the assented-to record of the emotions and moral judgments called upon to set in order those disorderly events. Absolutely true to the feelings of the 1950s, sufficiently true to the facts of 1939 to 1945, they now serve as an extraordinarily detailed as well as compact encyclopaedia of these facts and feelings.1 The treatment of World War II in British cinema persisted and even extended in the post-war period. The insistence

in The naval war film
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Law reform, homosexual identity and the role of counter-culture
Lucy Robinson

contradictory ways the personal was forcing itself on the public agenda across the board. We can see from their shared and sometimes opposed campaigns that there was no easily unified gay politics waiting to be populated. A shared experience of criminalised homosexuality did not lead to shared political conclusions. James, one of the contributors to the lesbian and gay oral history collection Daring Hearts 36 Gay men and the Left in post-war Britain explained: ‘We were all criminals. There was a bond. And you honoured that bond. Even with people who were foul, people you

in Gay men and the Left in post-war Britain
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Lucy Robinson

. Despite points of unity, like Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, overall we can trace a development along a broad continuum, with a consolidation of the themes that divide the Left from gay activism. This is not meant to suggest stagnation. But this is a partial explanation of the state of protest and politics today, when the traditional institutions of both reform and revolt appear to offer no attraction and personal politics can be misread as political apathy. 186 Gay men and the Left in post-war Britain Keep on keepin’ on! The Trotskyite Left is an anachronism

in Gay men and the Left in post-war Britain
Praxis, protest and performance
Lucy Robinson

uneasy 66 Gay men and the Left in post-war Britain relationship between the two groups until the increasing strength of McCarthyism meant Hay was ousted from both organisations in 1953. Mattachine became a Society and rejected its more radical roots, but elsewhere in the United States there were growing attempts to place sexuality on the political agenda. The Society for Individual Rights was formed in 1963 and the Annual Reminders demonstrated in Philadelphia to protest against legal inequality each Independence Day from 1965 to 1969. Gay activists picketed Draft

in Gay men and the Left in post-war Britain
Identity, performance and the Left 1972–79
Lucy Robinson

targets towards traditionally liberal agendas.2 From a feminist perspective, it seemed as though the politics of sexuality had succeeded by making a ‘rude intrusion onto the socialist agenda’. 3 This chapter will argue 94 Gay men and the Left in post-war Britain that while large sections of the Left were forced to acknowledge the politics of identity and of desire that did not mean they embraced them. There was not a smooth or easy development, in which the Left finally opened its eyes to the importance of personal politics, including gay politics. Firstly

in Gay men and the Left in post-war Britain
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From Gay Left Collective to Greater London Council, paedophile identity and the state of the Left
Lucy Robinson

themselves from radical actions and approaches. C.H.E. began to take on some of the GLF’s membership, interests and style. Its straight-laced information Bulletin took on a more and more informal style as the 1970s progressed. By April 1975, the Bulletin had a new logo and began to contain jokes, comic strips and a 124 Gay men and the Left in post-war Britain photograph on the front cover.3 Eventually it became hard to distinguish the Bulletin from any liberational or pop culture publication. C.H.E’.s style of publicity and protest also took on a much more playful

in Gay men and the Left in post-war Britain