A Timeline of events from the late 1970s to the mid 1980s

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Nottingham Lesbian Line was a service provided by lesbians for lesbians.

 

It started work in 1979 and operated from the Women's Centre which is shown in the picture.

 

Dwindling numbers of volunteers led to the closure of the service in 2003.

Part 2 flyer womenscentre

The first widely distributed lesbian and/or gay magazine which came from this area was GEM - Gay East Midlands.

 

It was set up by volunteers at the time when the national newspaper Gay News was starting to fail.  When Gay News folded, there was no national publication to take its place immediately. For that reason, GEM suddenly acquired a much wider audience than it expected and was in demand across the country.

 Called "Part Two" because it revived a gay club in the premises used by La Chic (1973-77), it too produced articles in the Evening Post. There was nothing like the hysteria of 1973 - one apparently outraged lady was actually a CHE member who hoped to start a chain of correspondence.  The main opposition was from the management of Whispers club. They said the city could not support two clubs. They were right - farewell Whispers. To read about the Part Two story click HERE

GEM

Transgender people do not necessarily have anything in common with lesbians, gay men and bisexuals. Nevertheless, in the 1970s several trans people contacted Nottingham Switchboard to ask where they could meet others. The answer was "There's nothing in this area". Telephone volunteer Mick Banbury encouraged these callers to keep in touch by phone and told them that when there were enough people interested, he would organise a meeting for them. This took place and the meetings continued, eventually carrying on under their own control. In 1983 this Nottingham trans group found its own premises and named itself the Chameleon Group - it's still going

Click on the picture to read and hear more about the Chameleon Group

Chameleon chrissmith

In Rugby, the Tory Council said  “In future any homosexuals will not be employed by the Council. They may be the best applicant, but they will not get the job”.

 

This led to a large demonstration at which various people spoke in opposition to the Council. One speaker was Chris Smith MP. He "outed" himself during the speech - the first MP to come out voluntarily. He said "I'm gay and there are about 100 others in the House of Commons, but they won't tell you."

The once-a-month gay night at the Astoria (renamed MGM and then Ocean) began in 1984.  It was the first once-a-monther for Nottingham.

 

Peter Martine's "Revolution" night, which started there, was supposed to be the world's longest running regular gay event, lasting for over twenty years. Bit like The Archers.

People began to be aware of AIDS in the early 1980s, but at first its nature and method of transmission were puzzling, which led to many scare stories about how you could be infected.

 

In 1985 Body Positive was set up as the first UK self-help group for people affected by HIV and AIDS.

 

In Nottingham, the Nottingham AIDS Information Project was established.

NAIPleaflet ocean

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marywhitehouse

Mrs Mary Whitehouse, anti-porn campaigner and Dame Edna Everage lookalike, revived the crime of Blasphemous Libel (last used in the 1920s) to prosecute Gay News over a poem which they had published. The trial took place in 1977.

 

Editor Denis Lemon was given a nine-month suspended jail sentence and a £500 fine. Gay News was fined £1,000. The paper reckoned that the trial brought it publicity worth millions and introduced the paper to many who had never previously seen it.

To read what the papers said about the opening of Part Two, click on the picture.