Gay Left

Gay Left was a collective of gay men and a journal of the same name which they published every six months in London between the years 1975 and 1980. It was formed after the dissolution of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Marxist Group.[1] Gay Left formed out of a reading group made up of members of the defunct Gay Marxist group.[2]

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.[3]

The journal Gay Left 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.

Gay Left
TypeMarxist organisation for gay men based in the United Kingdom
PurposeMarxist analysis, gay activism
HeadquartersLondon, England
  • London, England
Region served

The Collective

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.[3] 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. The collective espoused radical leftist politics, influenced by thinkers such as Antonio Gramsci, Sigmund Freud and Michel Foucault, and by the successes of the gay rights and feminist movements.[4]

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 Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick
Gregg Blachford Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick
Bob Cant Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick
Emmanuel Cooper Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick
Ross Irwin Green tick
Randall Kincaid Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick
Angus Suttie Green tick Green tick Green tick
Jeffrey Weeks Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick
Nigel Young Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick
Derek Cohen Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick
Ron Peck Green tick Green tick
Richard Dyer Green tick
Simon Watney Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick
Phil Derbyshire Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick
Tom Woodhouse Green tick Green tick


The journal published by the collective, Gay Left, combined theoretical articles with reviews and political reports.[5] 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.


Gay Left's contributors included many experienced activists, particularly in the field of feminism, education and workplace politics.[3]

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 Green tick
Andrew Britton Green tick Green tick
Barry Davis Green tick
Bea Campbell Green tick
Caroline Airs Green tick
Celia Holt Green tick
Chris Jones Green tick
David Fernbach Green tick Green tick
David Landau Green tick
David Thompson Green tick
David Widgery Green tick
Dennis Altman Green tick Green tick
Fred Bearman Green tick
Glenn McKee Green tick
Hans Klabbers Green tick Green tick
Helen Bishop Green tick
Jacky Plaster Green tick
Jamie Gough Green tick
Jane Lewis Green tick
Jeff Dudgeon Green tick
John de Wit Green tick
John Lindsay Green tick
John Quinn Green tick
John Shiers Green tick
John Warburton Green tick
Kate Ingrey Green tick
Kay Young Green tick
Ken Plummer Green tick
Lindsay Taylor Green tick
Lindsay Turner Green tick
Mandy Merck Green tick
Margaret Coulson
Margaret Jackson Green tick Green tick
Marie Walsh Green tick
Patrick Hughes Green tick
Paul Hallam Green tick
Peter Bradley Green tick
Ros Coward Green tick
Sarah Benton Green tick Green tick
Sarah Maguire Green tick
Shauna Brown Green tick
Stephen Gee Green tick
Sue Bruley Green tick Green tick
Sue Cartledge Green tick Green tick Green tick
Teresa Savage Green tick
Tom O'Carroll Green tick Green tick

Other activities

Gay Left organised a conference in London in July 1977 titled ‘What is to Be Done?’ (possibly after the famous pamphlet of the same name by Vladimir Lenin) and edited and wrote chapters for a book published by Alison and Busby in 1980 titled Homosexuality, Power and Politics.

See also


  1. ^ "The Knitting Circle: Movement". Gay Left Collective. 20 August 2006. Archived from the original on 14 January 2007. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  2. ^ Interrante, Joseph (1978). "Gay Left". Radical History Review. 19: 171.
  3. ^ a b c "Issue 1". Gay Left, London: Gay Left. Autumn 1975. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  4. ^ Jeffrey Escoffier, "Gay Left"
  5. ^ Interrante, Joseph (1978). "Gay Left". Radical History Review. 19: 172.

External links

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