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Authority record
Lesbian Archive LGBT activism

Gwynedd and Bangor Lesbian Line, 1984-1989

  • GB1534 GWY
  • Corporate body
  • c1984-1989

Gwynedd and Bangor Lesbian Line (also referred to as the Bangor Lesbian Line) is a telephone service that was started in 1984 by four lesbians living in Gwynedd. The line was set up to help increase awareness of lesbian issues, assist women coming to terms with their lesbianism and decrease isolation by improving lesbian social life in the Bangor and Gwynedd area. During the 1980s, Lesbian phone-line organisations were started in cities across the UK.

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.

Black Lesbian and Gay Centre

  • Corporate body
  • c.1985-c.1995

Based in southeast London, the Black Lesbian and Gay Centre challenged racism within the mainstream LGBT community, homophobia and erasure within Black communities, HIV/AIDS, Thatcherite politics and the rise in hostility toward LGBT people, and sexism. They provided advice and counselling, a helpline, a library, and other resources.

The Black Gay Group applied for funding from Greater London Council to open a centre, and in 1985 they received a GLC grant which enabled them to do so. After the GLC was abolished in 1986, the Centre's funding situation became ever more precarious, primarily coming from donations and membership fees. Blackout, a black lesbian and gay magazine, printed its first issue in 1986 providing a forum for the many black gay and lesbian groups that had emerged in London.

By 1995 the BLGC was blighted by insurmountable funding and resourcing issues, thus the Centre wound down it operations around this time.

London Women's Centre

  • Corporate body
  • c.1970s-c.2000

Based at Wesley House, 4 Wild Court, the London Women’s Centre was a thriving hub for women’s orgs for around three decades. The Centre was home to numerous women’s and feminist groups, including the National Abortion Campaign, Asian Women’s Network, Microsyster, English Collective of Prostitutes, Women’s Network for Palestine, Camden Women’s Bus, London Fat Women's Group, Lesbian Archive and Information Centre, Women's Information and Resource Exchange (WIRES), Women's Resource Centre, and many more.

From 1984-1996, the LWC housed Lesbian Archive & Information Centre, whose collections now live here at GWL. The Lesbian Archive makes up around one-third of our total archive holdings, and the LAIC library – up on the mezzanine level of our home in Bridgeton – comprises feminist and lesbian feminist literature, many of which titles are increasingly rare and hard to come by.

Facing increasing pressure from their main funder, Camden Council, to turn away from their explicitly feminist focus and instead become a more commercial venture, the LWC rebranded themselves as a music and events venue The Wheel in the mid 1990s. The rebrand was ultimately unsuccessful and Wesley House closed around 2000 (date unconfirmed).

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.

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.

Project for Advice, Counselling and Education (PACE)

  • Corporate body
  • 1985-2016

Project for Advice, Counselling and Education (PACE) was a London-based charity promoting the health and wellbeing of LGBT people, through the provision of free or low-cost counselling, therapy, groupwork, advocacy, youthwork, employment and other services. Established in 1985, PACE became a vital support network for many living in London and beyond - particularly in the context of Section 28, the homophobic law prohibiting the 'promotion of homosexuality'. PACE dissembled in 2016.

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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