Perhaps unsurprisingly, the LAIC and LGBTQ Collections at Glasgow Women’s Library chart the activities of a range of campaigns and organisations. Here we present a very brief introduction to just some of the prominent campaigns and organisations featured in the archive collections. From LGBT specific campaigns such as those against Section 28 and the Lesbian Avengers to broader solidarity movements such as the Miner’s Strike, GWL’s collection charts some of the most significant and bold LGBTQ campaigns since the 1970s.
GWL continues to collect materials which reflect the campaigns and organisations which promote better lives for LGBTQ people. If you would like to donate posters, placards or material related to the campaigns you are involved in please do get in touch!
The Red Hot Organization
This t-shirt designed by the artist Jenny Holzer was produced by the Red Hot Organization, an organization which promotes and supports the work of fighting AIDS and HIV through pop culture. This t-shirt was produced alongside their influential debut benefit album Red Hot + Blue which featured contemporary artists like Neneh Cherry and KD Lang singing the songs of Cole Porter. The profits of Red Hot + Blue were dispersed to influential activist and awareness raising organisations like ACT UP and the Treatment Action Group (TAG).
Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group
The Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group came into being in 1984, when the Camden Lesbian Centre and the Camden Black Lesbian group (CLCBLG) came together as one organisation, retaining an autonomous Black Lesbian Group. Records relating to the work of CLGCBLG form perhaps the largest single collection in the LAIC archive, and it is one of the most significant collections of Black Lesbian History in the UK.
The CLCBLG organised huge amounts of social events like discos and parties; creative and educational workshops; hosted events and supported the work of other Lesbian groups and organisations in London; organised excursions and holidays for women and children in the group and helped arrange actions and protests. Though not without its struggles, the organisation practiced intersectional and inclusive politics and has an important place in Black British lesbian history.
The Lesbian Avengers
The Lesbian Avengers were a powerful worldwide Lesbian direct action group. Fusing direct action, activism with art and design, the Avengers took their campaigns worldwide through posters and handbooks. They were noted for their large scale public actions, and media savvy campaigns which ensured their work got maximum exposure. The group originated in New York, and almost from the start produced literature to encourage women to organise in their own areas using the Avengers slogan “We Recruit!”. Avengers groups spanned across the USA, whilst prominent chapters in London, Glasgow and Paris spread the word in Europe.
The Miner’s Strike
In recent years, the solidarity between Lesbian and Gay men during the Miner’s Strike between 1984-1985 has been highlighted in newspapers and high profile films like Pride. Our collection has campaign materials which track the involvement of Lesbian and Gay support for the Miners, as well as other high profile strikes from the time, particularly the Wapping Printworker’s strike. Police brutality, unfair state retribution and press vilification allowed striking workers and Lesbian and Gay people to draw close parallels between the others experiences.
Section 28 was introduced by the Conservative government as an amendment to the Local Government Act prohibiting the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality by councils in schools or other areas controlled by local government such as libraries.
Our archive charts the efforts made by groups to oppose the introduction of the bill through media campaigns, debates, lobbying of MPs and direct action, as well as the charge to repeal the law once it was instituted. This poster, for an event by the Lambeth Gay and Lesbian Working Party dates from before Section 28 came into effect in May 1988, raises concerns about the censorship implications of the law.
LESPOP, Lesbians and Policing Project
The Lesbians and Policing Project was a project set up in the mid-eighties to help Lesbians in contact with the Police, either through prosecution or as victims of crimes, through support and advice. Much of the work undertaken by LESPOP advised women of their rights at the point of arrest, and helped them understand about police, home office and judicial processes. These posters are part of a series produced by LESPOP, aimed at women who were part of the immigration system, advising them on what to do in the event of a raid on their home.
Gay’s The Word
Before Section 28, Lesbian and Gay publications and press had already seen an unprecedented attack when the HM Customs and Excise raided and seized imports of books by the Gay’s the Word bookshop in Camden. The bookshop was (and continues to be) an important source of LGBT literature and non-fiction. Due to the limited circulation of these kinds of materials in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Gay’s the Word imported a number of literary works from abroad as well as important academic books and journals which reflected on the fields of sexuality and gender. The raid in 1984 was justified by UK authorities on the grounds of the distribution of obscene and indecent material. Seized works included works by the Joy of Lesbian Sex, as well as works by Tennessee Williams and Kate Millett. The arrest of directors and staff of Gay’s the Word resulted in a high profile court case in 1985, and a huge campaign to save the bookshop and prevent the criminalisation of its owners ensued. The case was thrown out in 1985 and the charges eventually dropped.
Queers Against the Bathroom Bill
This is a t-shirt designed by one our Lesbian Archive volunteers, Bel, who made the t-shirt as a response to their research into the collection. Bel created this t shirt by screen printing a design they found on a “Lesbians Against Section 28” badge from the collection. Keen to explore the ways in which these historical campaign materials could be brought into a contemporary context they adapted the language to create a new design for a current campaign.
Further artworks inspired by the Lesbian Archive collection: Needlework by Sarah MacLean
The Bathroom Bill is currently an issue affecting predominantly Trans and gender non-conforming individuals in the USA, forcing people in certain states to use the bathrooms and public toilets which correspond to their sex at birth rather than one which corresponds to their gender identity. It is seen widely by LGBTQ people as a hugely discriminatory and dangerous law.