February marks LGBT History Month in the UK. As an organisation for LGBT+ people over 50 we hold this history close to our hearts because of course our members have been part of making it in one way or another.

This year carries special significance for our history, as it sees the 50th anniversary of the founding of the London Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Although there had been other LGBT+ organisations and campaigns before this, GLF was in many ways a game changer. Borrowing its rhetoric from the post-Stonewall American movement – ‘gay pride’, ‘gay is good’, it emphasised the importance of ‘coming out’. By being open about our sexualities and gender differences, we could work together collectively to bring about radical change. There was a strong emphasis on living differently, changing our consciousness, ‘letting it all hang out’, borrowed from the counterculture. Above all there was a radical change in the way we advocated change. Through demos, street theatre, picnics in the park, and eventually Pride parades we were proclaiming: our liberation was a task for LGBT+ people ourselves. 

Many people were put off by GLF’s transgressive behaviour. By 1972 much of its first burst of energy had fragmented. But GLF changed everything. It dynamised the older queer organisations. It inspired dozens of new groups, activities, publications. And it gave a sense of collective belonging to thousands of LGBT+ people. Nothing could be the same again.

That was fifty years ago. The world and the needs of LGBT+ people have changed. But GLF’s legacy is now part of our DNA. We keep this legacy with us as we keep making LGBT history in 2020.