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Authority record
Lesbian activism

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.

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.

Camden Lesbian Working Group

  • Corporate body
  • c.1980-1982

Camden Lesbian Working Group was a previous incarnation of the Camden Lesbian Centre Project (in itself a previous incarnation of Camden Lesbian Centre & Black Lesbian Group). The group was formed at Kentish Town Women's Workshop around the late 1970s or 1980, and they were originally named the Kentish Town Lesbian Group.

When Camden Council Women's Committee was established sin 1982, they adopted the group as a subcommittee and it became Camden Lesbian Working Group. Later that year, the group was again renamed, this time, with a name that would endure for longer: Camden Lesbian Centre Project (CLCP). As CLCP, the group successfully applied for Council funding, coordinated meetings and events, and began looking for premises to establish a physical centre for the local lesbian community.

In 1985 CLCP merged with the Black Lesbian Group, thus establishing Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group (CLCBLG). CLCBLG would secure premises at 54-56 Phoenix Road in February 1986; the Centre opened on 31 October 1987, and closed in late 1995/early 1996.

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.

DAHLING

  • Corporate body
  • c.1990s

DAHLING was a social group for D/deaf, HoH and hearing lesbians. They held regular socials and planning meetings at Camden Lesbian Centre in the early to mid 1990s.

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.

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.

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.'

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

  • Corporate body
  • 1978-

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGBTIA, or ILGA in Europe) is an international federation of over 1,300 LGBTI+ groups from around the world. It continues to be active in campaigning for LGBTI human rights on the international human rights and civil rights scene, and regularly petitions the United Nations and governments. ILGA is represented in 140+ countries, and is accredited by the UN for NGO Ecosoc consultative status.

ILGA was founded as the International Gay Association (IGA) in August 1978, at a fringe meeting of a conference of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality held in Coventry, England, at a meeting with representatives of 10 organisations from Australia, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands and the United States. It changed its name to the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) in 1986.

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.

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