Before Pride: The struggle for the recognition of gay rights in the British communist movement, 1973-85

Evan Smith, Daryl Leeworthy

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This article examines the role of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and its youth wing, the Young Communist League (YCL), in the advancement of gay rights in the 1970s and 1980s. Although the CPGB was the first major organization of the British labour movement-and the British left-to advance a policy of gay rights, its participation in the gay liberation movement has tended to be neglected by scholars. In contrast to the general perception of the CPGB in the last decade (or so) of its existence as a party of declining influence and cohesion, easily ignored by the mainstream of the labour movement, we argue that the embrace of gay rights provided communists with a means of pushing for a diversification of labour politics. This coalesced in the mid-1980s with the cofounding of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) by the communist activist Mark Ashton. With the recent scholarly and public interest in the LGSM and its impact upon the Labour Party's attitude to gay rights, this article aims to reveal that the 'pre-history' of the group is firmly rooted in the CPGB/YCL and the Eurocommunist section of the British communist movement.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)621-642
    Number of pages22
    JournalTwentieth Century British History
    Volume27
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

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