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Gay Left

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Gay Left was a collective of gay men who produced a journal of the same name published every six months in London, England between the years 1975 and 1980. It was the aftermath of the evaporation of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Marxist Group.[1]

Its goal was to contribute towards a Marxist analysis of homosexual oppression and to encourage in the gay movement an understanding of the links between the struggle against sexual oppression and the struggle for socialism.[2]

The journal initially described itself as "A Socialist Journal Produced by Gay Men", which evolved into "A Gay Socialist Journal" by the magazine's end. That transition, in itself, spoke volumes for the vigorous debate that ran throughout Gay Left's life between the collective and lesbians who, though none ever joined the collective, frequently contributed articles.(see Contributors table below)

The Collective[3] Edit

In all a total of 15 gay men became part of the collective at one point or another with nine members at the start and nearly half of them forming part of the final eight. The group met on alternate Fridays and Sundays from 1974 until 1980. As well as editorial planning, the members also wrote a collective statement keynoting each issue.

Issue/Name Issue 1
Autumn 1975
Issue 2
Spring 1976
Issue 3
Autumn 1976
Issue 4
Summer 1977
Issue 5
Winter 1977/8
Issue 6
Summer 1978
Issue 7
Winter 1978/9
Issue 8
Summer 1979
Issue 9
Winter 1979/80
Issue 10
Summer 1980
Keith Birch
Gregg Blachford
Bob Cant
Emmanuel Cooper
Ross Irwin
Randall Kincaid
Angus Suttie
Jeffrey Weeks
Nigel Young
Derek Cohen
Ron Peck
Richard Dyer
Simon Watney
Phil Derbyshire
Tom Woodhouse

The Journal Edit

Alongside more historical articles like ‘Where Engels Feared to Tread’ (GL 1), which traced the evolution of Marxist attitudes towards sexuality and gender, were articles on struggles in the workplace like ‘Gays and Trade Unions’ (GL 1), ‘The Gay Workers’ Movement’ (GL 2), ‘All Worked UP’ (GL 3), ‘Gays at Work’ (GL 6 and 7), and ‘Work Place Politics: Gay Politics’ (GL 10); and pieces on the attitudes of leftist organisations towards the gay issue, such as ‘A Grim Tale’, about the International Socialists’ Gay Group (GL 3) or ‘Communists’ Comment’ (GL 4).

Gay Left was also a leader in exploring gay culture in its broadest sense. Gays in film formed a continuous theme following a ground- breaking article by Richard Dyer in GL 2, with regular reviews (for example, of Fassbinder (GL 2)), and coverage of Ron Peck’s attempts to make his film, ‘Nighthawks’ (Ron was then a member of the collective and other members were involved in the film making). Andrew Britton challenged ‘Camp’ (GL 6), and there were pioneering articles on ‘Gay Art’, the gay singer, Tom Robinson and the theatre group Gay Sweatshop (GL 7). Richard Dyer’s article ‘In Defence of Disco’ (GL 8) was one of the first to take disco seriously as an expression of the new gay consciousness. Mandy Merck explored Gay TV in GL 10 at the start of what proved to be a revolution in the ways in which lesbians and gays were represented.

Contributors[3]Edit

Gay Left's contributors included many experienced activists, particularly in the field of feminism, education and workplace politics.

Issue/Name Issue 1
Autumn 1975
Issue 2
Spring 1976
Issue 3
Autumn 1976
Issue 4
Summer 1977
Issue 5
Winter 1977/8
Issue 6
Summer 1978
Issue 7
Winter 1978/9
Issue 8
Summer 1979
Issue 9
Winter 1979/80
Issue 10
Summer 1980
Alison Hennegen
Andrew Britton
Barry Davis
Bea Campbell
Caroline Airs
Celia Holt
Chris Jones
David Fernbach
David Landau
David Thompson
David Widgery
Dennis Altman
Fred Bearman
Glenn McKee
Hans Klabbers
Helen Bishop
Jacky Plaster
Jamie Gough
Jane Lewis
Jeff Dudgeon
John de Wit
John Lindsay
John Quinn
John Shiers
John Warburton
Kate Ingrey
Kay Young
Ken Plummer
Lindsay Taylor
Lindsay Turner
Mandy Merck
Margaret Coulson
Margaret Jackson
Marie Walsh
Patrick Hughes
Paul Hallam
Peter Bradley
Ros Coward
Sarah Benton
Sarah Maguire
Shauna Brown
Stephen Gee
Sue Bruley
Sue Cartledge
Teresa Savage
Tom O'Carroll

Other activities Edit

Gay Left organised a conference in London in July 1977 titled ‘What is to Be Done?’ and edited and wrote chapters for a book published by Alison and Busby in 1980 titled Homosexuality, Power and Politics.

ReferencesEdit

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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