Read exhibition press release here.
About The GLF
The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was founded in the wake of the Stonewall Riots in New York and their first meeting was held on 13th October 1970 at the London School of Economics. Their manifesto in 1971 set out the key demands and principles of the GLF and challenged gay people to come out and be visible, while also exploring the means by which they were oppressed by society.
For the GLF, gay liberation was not only about law reform, it was about a revolutionary change in society, and they went on to hold some of the most anarchic and trailblazing protests in British history, including disrupting the launch of the Christian family values campaign Festival of Light with stink bombs, a lesbian kiss-in and male nuns in drag.
On a windy afternoon in October 1972, a small group of people gathered between the piers on Brighton seafront for a ‘Gay Day’. There were roughly 20 of them with an assortment of banners, badges and a great deal of courage. This was the Sussex Gay Liberation Front (SGLF) and they were there to make a point.
Just under a year later the SGLF organised a bigger event and ‘Gay Pride Week’ was born. Although less than 20 people attended the march through Brighton, they handed out 2,000 leaflets as they went. It explained:
A Gay Pride Week is when gay men and women show that they are not ashamed or embarrassed by their sexual orientation. It is a chance to come out of the closet, for gayness will never be accepted until everyone does this. Come out of the closet with us.
Love and kisses, Sussex Gay Liberation Front.
The diverse politics of people who joined the GLF however, meant that consensus on a single topic was often hard to come by, and although the GLF and SGLF disbanded after just a few years, the organisations and their manifesto, cast a long shadow with a number of influential LGBTQ+ groups and organisations having their roots in the ideas generated by GLF and SGLF, or founded and built by former GLF and SGLF members.
About the exhibition
In 2022 I met and photographed some of the veterans of the first GLF March in 1972 to mark the 50th anniversary. In 2023 I did the same with veterans of the SGLF to mark the 50th anniversary of their first ‘Brighton Gay Pride March’ in 1973.
As with all participants in The Identity Project, I also asked them what their identity means to them.
This is the first time these trailblazers of the Pride movement have been exhibited.
As you read their words, look at their portraits and as we celebrate Pride, think about the people that came before us, those who had the guts to stand up for who they were. When violence and abuse were frequently the consequences, they did it anyway.
We are the GLF’s legacy.
Title: Gay Liberation: The Trailblazers Of The Pride Movement – Photographic Portraits by Chris Jepson
Date: 1st August – 29th September 2023, Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
Venue: Plus X Innovation, Lewes Road, Brighton, BN2 4GL
Read press release here.
“Gay Liberation: The Trailblazers of the Pride Movement.”
This exhibition is by photographer Chris Jepson and forms part of his ongoing Identity Project.
Many thanks to the veterans of the GLF and SGLF for trusting me with their stories and images, and to Alf Le Flohic for invaluable help with SGLF research.
kindly supported by