The Gay News, Issues 1-240

The Gay News, Issues 1-240


London: Gay News Publishing Ltd., 1972-1981.

An unbroken run of issues 1-240, in excellent condition, preserved in a cool, dry, clean environment seemingly since publication. Rare: OCLC lists no full runs, only lone issues spread across a few institutions, for instance at the British Library, which only begins in 1977. The only comprehensive collection we could locate is at the Bishopsgate Institute in London.

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The Gay News was a fortnightly newspaper founded in London, it was collectively run, edited, designed, and distributed by members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE), including Denis Lemon, Doug Pollard, and Glenys Parry. It lasted just over a decade, between May 1972 and April 1983. Insofar as the Stonewall Riots inspired the establishment of the Gay Liberation Front in New York, and queers who had visited from the UK established a chapter of their own in London in 1970, this periodical is one of the first in the flurry of post-Stonewall printed materials to reach sustained audiences in the UK and Europe, at its height it had a circulation of 18,000. Nevertheless, its contributors were deeply informed by activism in the aftermath of the Wolfenden Report (1957), and it is distinctly British in its contents—among regularly covered subjects are British gay life, British music and celebrity culture, including Monty Python’s Graham Chapman, and a Pythonesque sense of humor informs the more satirical pieces featured. For this reason Issue #1 embarrassingly features a cartoonish portrayal of Jimmy Savile its cover: not in support of Savile, but, as the contents show, with skepticism toward his recent televised debate over toleration of homosexuality. There are far more savory moments across this publication, including a rare and collectible issue on David Bowie that still remains coveted by fans. At the same time as showing the unfolding of the gay liberation movement in the decade before the devastation caused by AIDS, Gay News offers an raucous, detailed, and sustained record of political and social exchange between queer communities in the USA, UK, and Europe. It supported the research and publication of centuries’s worth of LGBTQ history in a time before such subjects could be taught at universities or easily accessed in institutions—all this while surviving several trials, including for obscenity in 1974 and blasphemy in 1976, as well as struggling to find vendors over the course of its history.

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