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
28
Wed
all-day Another Kind of Life: Photograph... @ Barbican Art Gallery
Another Kind of Life: Photograph... @ Barbican Art Gallery
Feb 28 – May 27 all-day
Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins @ Barbican Art Gallery | England | United Kingdom
Gazing directly into the camera, Paz Errazuriz’s arresting image of Pilar (shown above), a cross-dresser working in an underground brothel in Chile during the 1980s forms part of a larger body of work titled Adam’s Apple, 1983. Taken during Chile’s military dictatorship at a time when gender non-conforming people were regularly subjected to curfews, persecutions and police brutality, this photograph ...
May
10
Thu
all-day Transitional States: Hormones at... @ Peltz Gallery
Transitional States: Hormones at... @ Peltz Gallery
May 10 – Jun 11 all-day
Transitional States: Hormones at the Crossroads of Art and Science @ Peltz Gallery
Transitional States: Hormones at the Crossroads of Art and Science delivers an international programme that uses art and public debates to raise awareness about the important impact hormone therapies can have. It explores the theme of hormone use and abuse, both in the past and in the present.
Jun
5
Tue
6:00 pm Testo Junkie: Hormones, power, a... @ Wellcome Collection
Testo Junkie: Hormones, power, a... @ Wellcome Collection
Jun 5 @ 6:00 pm
Testo Junkie: Hormones, power, and resistance in the pharmacopornographic regime @ Wellcome Collection | England | United Kingdom
In this lecture, Preciado will explore the invention and commercialisation of hormones, and the shift from disciplinary modes of production of sexual subjectivity towards a new regime of gender fabrication and re-organisation of the heterosexual norm.
Jun
28
Thu
8:00 pm “This first summer month…” A Cel... @ St Ethelburga's Centre,
“This first summer month…” A Cel... @ St Ethelburga's Centre,
Jun 28 @ 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm
"This first summer month..." A Celebration of The Ruba'iya't of Omar Khayya'm @ St Ethelburga's Centre,
A Celebration of Liberation – of Genius awakening genius, of Light and delight. Celebrating an enlightening and very entertaining world famous poem which has sold millions of copies ever since it was translated, adapted and published anonymously in 1859 by the gay suffolk born anglo-irish genius Edward FitzGerald 1809 – 1883. “The eloquence of quatrain is the completion of sublimity” ...
Jul
3
Tue
7:30 pm Wirework @ Tristan Bates Theatre
Wirework @ Tristan Bates Theatre
Jul 3 @ 7:30 pm – Jul 7 @ 8:30 pm
Wirework @ Tristan Bates Theatre | England | United Kingdom
Set in a remote South African village, a reclusive older woman, outrages her Afrikaans neighbours by collaborating with a local shepherd to turn her family home into an extraordinary piece of art. Based on the true story of Helen Martins and Koos Malgas and their creation, ‘The Owl House’. Inspired by images from pictures and postcards, their world becomes dominated ...

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