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Authority record
Lesbian feminism

Lesbian Archive and Information Centre

  • GB 1534 LAIC
  • Corporate body
  • 1984-1996

The Archive began in London in 1984, firstly under the name of London Lesbian Archive and later as the Lesbian Archive and Information Centre (LAIC). It was funded by the Greater London Council, supporting the wages of one full-time and two part-time workers to develop and sustain a collection of UK lesbian history and culture. LAIC operated out of the London Women's Centre at Wesley House, 4 Wild Court, London, along with many other feminist collectives and women's organisations. Like Glasgow Women’s Library’s own collection, materials in the archive were all donated.

In the early years the archive collection mainly comprised lesbian books including literature, pulp fiction and a significant amount of lesbian & gay as well as feminist non-fiction. It received donations of duplicates from other feminist libraries and archives in the UK, such as Bath Feminist Archive (which is now incorporated into the collection of Feminist Archives South). LAIC also took donations of journals and pamphlets, oral histories, foreign language materials, organisational records, press clippings and manuscripts from individual women, and by the late 1980s the LAIC had amassed an impressive and unique collection of lesbian women’s materials. The collection ranges from organisational records and personal archives to journals and ephemera.

Like many of its sister organisations, LAIC went through turbulent periods in its history. Shifting dynamics in feminist, lesbian and queer politics meant that the collection occasionally faced division, and even at times closure. The political landscape of the 1980s and early 1990s consistently put pressure on funding, and laws such as Section 28 caused precarity, uncertainty and turbulence for projects like LAIC. By 1995, funding the Archive became impossible and new premises were sought. Glasgow Women’s Library housed the collection as a donation; today, the Lesbian Archive comprises around one-third of GWL's entire archive, and LAIC's (uncatalogued) library collection is housed on the mezzanine level.

Southall Black Sisters

  • Corporate body
  • 1979-

Southall Black Sisters (SBS), a not-for-profit, secular and inclusive organisation, was established in 1979 to meet the needs of Black (Asian and African-Caribbean) women. Their aims are to highlight and challenge all forms gender-related violence against women, empower them to gain more control over their lives; live without fear of violence and assert their human rights to justice, equality and freedom.

For over three decades SBS have been at the forefront of challenging domestic and gender-related violence locally and nationally, and have campaigned for the provision of proper and accountable support services to enable women and their children to escape violent relationships and live in dignity. They run an advice, advocacy and resource centre in West London which provides a comprehensive service to women experiencing violence and abuse and other forms of inequality. SBS offers specialist advice, information, casework, advocacy, counselling and self-help support services in several community languages, especially South Asian languages.

A Woman's Place

  • Corporate body
  • c.1970-c.1986

A Woman's Place (AWP) was a feminist collective and women's resource and information centre based at Hungerford House, Victoria Embankment, London WC2. Established around the early 1970s, AWP was a key site of knowledge exchange and connection for women across and beyond the WLM, producing research reports, coordinating events and social gatherings (with childcare provision), and making a range of information services available to women. In the mid 1980s, AWP's upper space was home to the Feminist Library for a short time before the Library moved to its present home in Southwark around 1986.

It is unclear when AWP wound up its operations, but material in CLCBLG/4 seems to indicate that this happened around c.1986.

Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group

  • GB 1534 CLCBLG
  • Corporate body
  • 1982-1996

The Camden Lesbian Centre Project (CLCP) was founded in 1982, when several women from a loose social collective known as Kentish Town Lesbian Group (based at the nearby Kentish Town Women’s Workshop) recognised the need for a space expressly for lesbians. The group - all of whom were white lesbians - successfully applied for grant funding from Camden Council Women's Committee, and they began organising regular meetings and events with a view to establishing a centre for lesbians. In 1984, the Black Lesbian Group was founded as a support group for Black lesbians and lesbians of colour, who faced the tripartite barriers of homophobia, racism, and misogyny; the group used the term 'Black' in the broader political sense.

Having worked closely together, Camden Lesbian Centre Project and the Black Lesbian Group merged to form the Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group (CLCBLG) in 1985. Despite their differences and the fact that CLCP had originally excluded Black lesbians from its initial stages, BLG members felt the merger presented an opportunity to improve things for their community. The merger agreement stipulated that at least 50% of CLCBLG's staff and its Management Committee would comprise Black lesbians and that around half of the Centre's events and workshops would be for Black lesbians only.

From 1985-86, CLCBLG sought out premises across Camden. Although initially unsure of how the site would work for them, the group eventually applied for a change of use for a former retail space at 54-56 Phoenix Road, which they were granted amidst vocal resistance and homophobia from some local residents. The group signed the lease in September 1986. CLCBLG worked with Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative, Support Community Building and Common Ownership Design and Construct (CODAC) to renovate and alter the Centre before opening its doors to the public on Saturday 31 October 1987. From this point onward, the Centre was a social and political hub for many strands of London's lesbian community, becoming home to workshops, socials, seminars, discussion groups and other events. It became the base of groups like the Older Lesbian Network, Zamimass Black lesbian group, and GEMMA, the friendship network for disabled and non-disabled lesbians.

With successive and ever more severe cuts to grant funding from Camden Council, CLCBLG was forced to scale down its paid staff members and operations from c.1990 onwards. The Centre eventually wrapped up its operations in 1996, when the group was informed that they'd receive no grant funding in that year's budget.

Outwrite Women’s Newspaper

  • Corporate body
  • 1982-1988

Outwrite newspaper, produced by a collective of women throughout the 1980s, was dedicated to offering news by women, for women. Self-defined as an ‘internationalist feminist’ publication, the paper focused on ‘the development of feminism worldwide’ and an examination of women’s oppressions ‘in the context of imperialism, racism and class divisions.’

Liberation struggles across Latin America, southern Africa, Palestine, Bangladesh and India, as well as local campaigns including those of Southall Black Sisters, the Sari Squad and the King’s Cross Women’s Centre were regularly featured in Outwrite’s monthly reports. The transnational community Outwrite envisioned and embodied resonates powerfully with the social justice struggles of today.

ONYX: The social and discussion group for Black lesbians and lesbians of colour

  • Corporate body
  • c.1989-c.1995

ONYX was a social and discussion group for Black lesbians and lesbians of colour. By its own definition, it encompassed '[a]ll lesbians descended (through one or both parents) from Africa, Asia (i.e. the Middle East to China, including the Pacific Nations) and Latin America, and lesbians descended from the original inhabitants of Australasia, North America and the islands of the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean'. The group met once or twice monthly, first at London Friend at 86 Caledonian Road (c.1989-1991) and later at Camden Lesbian Centre & Black Lesbian Group at 54-56 Phoenix Road (from 1991 onwards); discussion and publicity were led by volunteers.

off our backs

  • Corporate body
  • 1970-2008

off our backs was a radical feminist print news journal by, for, and about women, published from 1970 to 2008. From 2008 onward OOB changed its remit, becoming a nonprofit organisation run by a collective where decisions are made by consensus.

GEMMA

  • Corporate body
  • 1976-

GEMMA is a UK-wide friendship and self-help network for lesbians and bisexual women, with and without disabilities. The group puts women in touch via email, phone, and in-person meet-ups, as well as maintaining a taping circle for D/deaf and HoH women.

Since its establishment in 1976, GEMMA has published regular newsletters, guides, and anthologies of its members' creative writing. The group maintains a small lending library which members can access upon request. Membership is open to all lesbian/bisexual women with or without disabilities, of all ages, who subscribe to the aims of integration of the disabled and non-disabled.

Shocking Pink!

  • Corporate body
  • 1981-1982; 1987-1992

Shocking Pink! was a zine written by and for young women, with an emphasis on topics like contraception, abortion, sexuality, lesbianism, queer issues, violence against women, feminist arts and culture, skill sharing (e.g. how to form a band, a women's group etc.), racism, women's rights, politics, and more.

Collegamento fra le Lesbiche Italiane

  • Corporate body
  • 1981-2008

Collegamento fra le Lesbiche Italiane (roughly, the Coalition of Italian Lesbians; CLI) was a network for Italian lesbian individuals and collectives, which provided opportunities for connecting, organised seminars and conferences, and conducted and disseminated research on Italian lesbian culture. The CLI published a monthly newsletter for around 21 years, along with a raft of other publications.

In 1983, the CLI and several other Italian feminist collectives founded the Feminist Separatist Centre (CFS) in Rome. In 1986, they established the Archivi di Lesbiche Italiane (Italian Lesbian Archives; ALI), which comprised an Italian and foreign-language library, a newspaper archive, and a collection relating to Italian lesbian history and culture. In 2003, the CLI founded Archivia, an archive and library relating to women's histories. In 2008, the CLI's operations ceased and its collections were donated to Archivia.

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