Glad to be gay – the Hall-Carpenter Archives at LSE Library

Glad to be gay – the Hall-Carpenter Archives at LSE Library

Demonstration, with Gay Liberation Front Banner, c1972
LSE Library has been home to the Hall-Carpenter Archives since 1988. It’s an extensive collection of archives, ephemera and printed material documenting the development of gay activism in the UK since the 1950s. But how did it come to LSE and what does it hold?

The origins

The Hall-Carpenter Archives grew out of the campaigning work of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE). In 1980 CHE established the Gay Monitoring and Archive Project to monitor cases of discrimination against homosexuals in all parts of life. A media monitoring service was set up including a subscription to the press cuttings service. In addition, CHE members began to send press cuttings and related material on discrimination. The CHE also found itself storing records of gay organisations.

In 1982 the Gay Monitoring and Archive Project separated from CHE and the press cuttings and archives transferred to the flat of one of its founders, Julian Meldrum, and a limited company was set up called the Hall-Carpenter Memorial Archives.

When Greater London Council withdrew its funding in 1986, alternative ways had to be found to secure the archive’s future. It was decided to split the collection into three. The archives, ephemera and printed material went to LSE. The Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive first found a home at Middlesex University and then went to the Bishopsgate Institute. The oral histories went to the British Library Sound Archive.

The name

The collection is named in honour of the novelist Marguerite Radclyffe Hall and the socialist writer Edward Carpenter. Unfortunately, the collection does not hold any papers of these individuals.
GLF Plaque on LSE Campus

Highlights

Decriminalisation of male homosexuality

The papers of the Albany Trust, the Homosexual Law Reform Society, Tony Dyson and Antony Grey record the campaign to decriminalise male homosexuality throughout the 1960s following the Wolfenden Report in 1957. There is correspondence with the Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, and with Lord Arran and Leo Abse who pushed various versions of the Sexual Offences bills through both Houses of Parliament until the Act was passed in July 1967.

The Gay Liberation Front

The Gay Liberation Front began in October 1970 at LSE. It brought a new energy to gay activism. This revolutionary movement took a direct approach, drawing up demands, holding ‘think-ins’, forming consciousness-raising groups, organising demonstrations and street theatre. It had a short life, torn apart by the diverse interests of those involved. In its wake, numerous gay and lesbian groups emerged (eg Joint Council for Gay Teenagers, Gay Activists Alliance, FRIEND [Fellowship for the Relief of the Isolated and Emotionally in Need and Distress]).
Gay Liberation Front Street Theatre

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement encouraged friendship and support amongst gay Christians and maintained links with the church and the gay community. It also actively lobbied the government regarding equality legislation eg on age of consent, section 28.

AIDS and HIV

There are lots of papers relating to AIDS / HIV including Simon Watney, Peter Tatchell and Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.

Journals

LGBT journals (newspapers and magazines), 1954-, collected from the UK and the rest of the world, particularly the USA. They include:

  • Attitude
  • Capital Gay
  • Diva
  • G Scene
  • Gay News
  • Gay Times
  • Pink Paper
  • Scotsgay

Disabled Gays Guide, 1985

How to access

Most of the material highlighted here is part of our special collections, which are open to all but must be consulted in our reading room. Find out how to book your place and order material on our access archives and special collections page.

To search, use the LSE archive catalogue typing HCA* into ‘Refno’ field.

Further resources at LSE

The online LSE student newspaper the Beaver shows early coverage of gay liberation activities. For example, details of their first meeting.

Trace journal articles on this topic using LGBT Life with full text. This has a specialist focus and is a good supplement to broader social science and humanities databases such as SocIndex and ISI web of Science.

View some images from these archives on Flickr.

Read Sue Donnelly’s article ‘Coming out in the archives’, Oxford Journals, 2008-2009, for more information about the Hall-Carpenter Archives.

Gillian Murphy appears at:

OUTing the Past: London Hub II on the 11th February
OUTing the Past: Manchester on the 26th February

Feb
20
Wed
10:00 am THE ‘OTHER’ FRIENDS OF CLAPHAM C... @ Omnibus Theatre
THE ‘OTHER’ FRIENDS OF CLAPHAM C... @ Omnibus Theatre
Feb 20 @ 10:00 am – Mar 31 @ 6:00 pm
THE 'OTHER' FRIENDS OF CLAPHAM COMMON @ Omnibus Theatre
Presented by And What? Queer. Arts. Festival, HB&Co and Omnibus Theatre The ‘Other’ Friends of Clapham Common is a new commission by And What? Queer. Arts. Festival, HB&Co and Omnibus Theatre. It is an app-based binaural sound experience that explores some of the past and current histories of Clapham Common as a Cruising ground. The soundtrack takes you on a ...
Mar
12
Tue
all-day Romance Romance @ Above The Stag Theatre
Romance Romance @ Above The Stag Theatre
Mar 12 – Apr 6 all-day
Romance Romance @ Above The Stag Theatre
This charming and intelligent musical brings together two contrasting stories, set 100 years apart. In late 19th Century Vienna, two bored high-society lovers disguise themselves as struggling members of the working class. Can their love survive without the comforts and luxuries they’re used to? And 100 years later, two couples rent a beach house in The Hamptons, where a spot ...
Mar
25
Mon
7:30 pm ELF LYONS: CHIFFCHAFF @ Omnibus Theatre
ELF LYONS: CHIFFCHAFF @ Omnibus Theatre
Mar 25 @ 7:30 pm – Mar 30 @ 7:30 pm
ELF LYONS: CHIFFCHAFF @ Omnibus Theatre
CKP & InterTalent Group present: Elf Lyons: Chiffchaff The Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee (Best Show 2017) presents her London debut of her one-woman musical about the economy. You read that right. Let’s get fiscal. The queen of clown is back and she’s making the dismal science fun with a whole orchestra and an Invisible Hand. BBC New Talent Hotlist 2017. ...
Mar
28
Thu
7:00 pm Documentary screening: A deal wi... @ JHB Main Lecture Theatre, Oxford Brookes University
Documentary screening: A deal wi... @ JHB Main Lecture Theatre, Oxford Brookes University
Mar 28 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Documentary screening: A deal with the universe @ JHB Main Lecture Theatre, Oxford Brookes University
For International Transgender Day of Visibility, Oxford Brookes University Documentary Club is screening this debut feature from Trans filmmaker Jason Barker, telling the story of a very different kind of pregnancy. Autobiographical and made entirely from personal archive and home video diaries, the film follows Jason’s incredible story of how he came to give birth to his child, charting over ...
Apr
1
Mon
7:00 pm They, Them, We, Us @ Arcola Theatre
They, Them, We, Us @ Arcola Theatre
Apr 1 @ 7:00 pm – Apr 6 @ 7:00 pm
Arcola Queer Collective presents They, Them, We, Us Devised by the Company Directed by Dani Singer “The first duty of the revolutionary is to survive.” They, Them, We, Us: A Queerstory is a gutsy celebration of 50 years of Queer Liberation since the Stonewall Uprising – an expansive look backwards and forwards, flowing through 50 years of queerstory in fifty ...
8:30 pm The Quest @ Arcola Theatre
The Quest @ Arcola Theatre
Apr 1 @ 8:30 pm – Apr 6 @ 8:30 pm
The Quest @ Arcola Theatre
Arcola Queer Collective presents The Quest By Robert Holtom Directed by Vicky Olusanya 1-6 Apr, 8:30pm £15/£12 “I really want a hero. One who lives in a world of magic. I want to see them on posters and in colouring books because I want to be saved from all this.” Zemuel has been banished from his village in the Valley ...
Apr
4
Thu
all-day EcoFutures Festival Queer, Femin... @ The Art Pavilion, Mile End Park
EcoFutures Festival Queer, Femin... @ The Art Pavilion, Mile End Park
Apr 4 – Apr 19 all-day
EcoFutures Festival Queer, Feminist and Decolonial Responses to Ecological & Environmental Changes @ The Art Pavilion, Mile End Park
EcoFutures takes place in East London and brings together over 70 artists, activists and theorists from all over the world to create a platform for discussion and experimentation around urgent environmental and ecological issues such as climate change, extinction, pollution, health and sustainability through an intersectional, feminist and queer lens.
7:00 pm • ‘How beautiful are thy buttock... @ Bolton Central Library and Museum
• ‘How beautiful are thy buttock... @ Bolton Central Library and Museum
Apr 4 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
•	‘How beautiful are thy buttocks!’: ‘Same-sex desire in Ancient Egypt,’ talk by Dr Roland Enmarch @ Bolton Central Library and Museum
Although there is little evidence that the Ancient Egyptians conceptualised human beings as belonging to discrete groups based on their sexual preferences, there is a comparatively rich set of sources that attest the existence of same-sex sexual activity in pharaonic times. Dr Enmarch will talk about the realms of Egyptian mythology and Egyptian societal ideologies.
Apr
5
Fri
7:30 pm Mother The Verb @ Chisenhale Dance Space
Mother The Verb @ Chisenhale Dance Space
Apr 5 @ 7:30 pm
Mother The Verb @ Chisenhale Dance Space
Fusing dance, storytelling and audiovisual projections, Mother The Verb is a performance with an air of ritual enacted from queer, trans and indigenous/of colour perspectives. Exploring motherhood and its redemptive potential through a tender, physical language, this piece is a bold and complex study of the toxic effects produced by colonialism and ecological violence on human and planetary relations. “Because ...
Apr
6
Sat
3:30 pm Global Queer Voices @ Arcola Theatre
Global Queer Voices @ Arcola Theatre
Apr 6 @ 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Global Queer Voices @ Arcola Theatre
Global Voices Theatre are back with two brand new selections of the best international new writing. Come discover excerpts of plays never before staged in the UK; curated, read and performed with members of the Arcola Community Theatre Companies. 6 Apr, 3:30pm £5 Global Queer Voices is created via an international call for playwrights – click here to learn more ...
Apr
7
Sun
all-day QUEER COLLECTIVE WELLBEING DAY @ Arcola Theatre
QUEER COLLECTIVE WELLBEING DAY @ Arcola Theatre
Apr 7 all-day
QUEER COLLECTIVE WELLBEING DAY @ Arcola Theatre
Join Milly’s Massage & Yoga for a day of relaxation, release and rejuvenation. Pop in for a 15 minute massage, some meditation time or just chill and do some art therapy in a space with quiet queers. Hatha yoga classes: 2pm & 4pm Thai & Swedish massage slots: book in person on the day facebook.com/CamillaHardingYoga Pay What You Can 7 ...
7:00 pm QUEER QUIZ AND COMEDY NIGHT @ Arcola Theatre
QUEER QUIZ AND COMEDY NIGHT @ Arcola Theatre
Apr 7 @ 7:00 pm
QUEER QUIZ AND COMEDY NIGHT @  Arcola Theatre
Come on down to Arcola Bar and join some familiar faces for a pub quiz with a difference. Laugh out loud at some stand up comedy bound to tickle your fancy. Who will win the queerest of quiz prizes and be crowned the champions? 7 April, 7pm £5

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