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Authority record
Lesbian Archive Lesbian identity

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.

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.

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.

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.

Capital Gay

  • Corporate body
  • 1981-1995

Capital Gay was a free, weekly London newspaper established by Graham McKerrow and Michael Mason. It was priced at 20p when first published but became free six months later, and went on to be Britain's longest-running free gay newspaper. It was initially distributed only in London but was later also distributed in Brighton. Its readership eventually grew to around 20,000.

City Limits

  • Corporate body
  • 1981-1993

City Limits was an alternative culture and event listings magazine for London, published weekly. It was founded by former Time Out staff writers as a co-operative, after TO owner Tony Elliott refused to adopt co-operative working principles. City Limits initially took a vocally radical feminist stance, though later investors tried to rebrand the title as a women's lifestyle magazine.

LesBeWell

  • Corporate body
  • 1994-c.1998

LesBeWell was established in March 1994 by a group of lesbian feminists including public health worker Gudrun Limbrick. The core team comprised around 10-12 women, and together they produced a regular lesbian health newsletter called Dykenosis, distributed at LGBT venues and women's spaces.

The collective also organised two conferences on lesbian health in 1995 and 1996, both of which were held in Birmingham. Toward the end of their life, they undertook a lesbian health audit which surveyed over 300 women; the results were not published until 2008, around a decade after LesBeWell's dissolution.

Lesbian Youth Support Information Service

  • Corporate body
  • 1991-late 1990s?

Established in 1991, the Lesbian Youth Support Information Service (LYSIS) provided support to young lesbians in four main ways: correspondence counselling; telephone counselling; peer support; and information. LYSIS was part of an umbrella organisation, the Lesbian Information Service (LIS), which provided indirect support for young lesbians including publishing, education and training, projects and campaigning.

Older Lesbian Network

  • Corporate body
  • 1984-

The Older Lesbian Network (OLN) meets socially in London, with other regional groups meeting and self-organising in Birmingham, Nottingham, Southampton and elsewhere. The OLN was established in 1984, and from the late 1980s onward, they held frequent meetings at Camden Lesbian Centre, 54-56 Phoenix Road.

International Lesbian Information Service

  • Corporate body
  • 1980-c.1998

The International Lesbian Information Service (ILIS) was international organisation which aimed to foster and promote lesbian organising internationally. It was founded by ILGA in 1980, becoming an independent organisation in 1981. ILIS organised several conferences and published a quarterly newsletter. In Shelley Anderson's 'Lesbian rights are human rights!' manifesta (1995), she lays out ILIS's five demands as follows:
'1. We have the unconditional right to control our own bodies.

  1. We have a right to education that is not sexist or heterosexist and which includes positive information about lesbian lifestyle.
  2. We need the right to self-organisation.
  3. All governments must repeal legislation which criminalizes us or discriminates against us.
  4. Therefore, all governments must pass human rights legislation to protect individuals against discrimination based on color, class, creed, sex and sexual preference.'
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