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LGBT campaigner and Holocaust survivor Sharley McLean dies aged 90

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  1. I remember her well, a distinctive diminutive reddish-haired presence, sharp as a bird.

    Amongst other things, she did a stint at Speakers’ Corner weekend after weekend in the 1970s (and who knows for how long) and induced others to climb the rickety three steps to take their turns doing so too. I did so. It is a strange situation to speak without preparation to a largely hostile and often racist audience with religious zealots speaking not so far away, in the hope of converting a handful of the passing tourist and home-UK listeners into an attitude of acceptance that the gay population would not just disappear.

    Each campaigner contributes their grain of sand to the building of a better society – Sharley added a whole sandcastle.

  2. Robert in S. Kensington 28 Oct 2013, 12:54pm

    Rest in peace, Sharley. I too remember hearing her at Speaker’s Corner in the 70s. A true heroine of LGBT equality, she will be missed. I’m glad she was still around to see the Marriage Bill passed.

  3. David Edwards 28 Oct 2013, 3:13pm

    She was still at Speaker’s Corner in 1985 when I moved to London. It became a regular Sunday ritual then a coffee after. She was inspirational in the face of some of the most ignorant heckling you could imagine. She was almost a mother figure to the countless newly out young gay people that were starting their new lives in London. She will be sorely missed.

  4. Sharley will always be remembered. Our gay communities are feeling the loss but losing her is bigger loss for the whole world.
    She will remain a symbol of strength and consideration forever.
    Rest in Peace Sharley.

  5. George Broahead 28 Oct 2013, 5:44pm

    I am very sorry to hear of Sharley McLean’s death. I got to know her well during the 25 years I was a committee member and secretary of the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA). I recall encountering her many times at the GALHA Conway Hall meetings in London and attending a bonfire night party at her home in Northfield.

    I am pleased that Peter Tatchell has acknowledged her staunch support for GALHA. She joined GALHA in 1984 and was certainly still a member when I resigned as secretary in 2007. Her wreath-laying at the Cenotaph in London was reported in the 1995/96 issue of Gay & Lesbian Humanist magazine which was published by the Pink Triangle Trust (www.thepinktriangletrust.com/) and circulated free to GALHA members (http://www.pinktriangle.org.uk/glh/152/index.html).

    One of her campaigning activities, which Peter omits to mention, was her founding and regular participation in a group whose members spoke courageously on LGBT rights at Speaker Corner, Hyde Park.

  6. George Broadhead 28 Oct 2013, 5:56pm

    I am very sorry to hear of Sharley McLean’s death. I got to know her well during the 25 years I was a committee member and secretary of the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) and recall encountering her many times at the GALHA Conway Hall meetings, and attending a bonfire night party at her home in Northfield.

    I am pleased that Peter has acknowledged her staunch support for GALHA which she joined in 1984 and was still a member when I resigned as secretary in 2007. Her wreath-laying at the Cenotaph in London was reported in the 1995/96 issue of Gay & Lesbian Humanist magazine which was published by the Pink Triangle Trust and circulated free to GALHA members (http://www.pinktriangle.org.uk/glh/152/index.html).

    One of her campaigning activities, which Peter omits to mention, was her founding and regular participation in a group whose members spoke courageously on LGBT rights at Speaker Corner, Hyde Park.

  7. kellan farshea 29 Oct 2013, 11:43pm

    in the early 1990s Sharley was made a saint by the sisters of perpetual indulgence. she regaled us with wonderful stories of her activist life druing the war and as has been mentioned here, the week in week out vigil she maintained at speakers coner, standing on a step ladder and preaching for lesbian and gay equality

  8. Jean Saunders 30 Oct 2013, 7:55pm

    Thank you all for your kind and warm comments about my mum. She was an inspiration and a hero to me too but for a completely different reason to all of yours. I have tried to follow in her footsteps campaigning for the right thing. For me it has been environmental matters. Sharley’s father was a hero too – he was tortured to death by the Nazis because of his views. Continue to fight injustice and bigotry in whatever way you can.

  9. Regan DuCasse 5 Nov 2013, 5:35pm

    Heard about her years ago at the Simon Weisenthal Center when there was an exhibit about the gays and lesbians affected by the Holocaust and later in articles at the One Institute here in Los Angeles.
    I don’t think anyone can learn enough or know enough of the remarkable gay men and women of ‘the greatest generation’ who are the survivors of times when they could be arrested, institutionalized, murdered…the Great Depression, Jim Crow…it’s the Civil Rights Movement…The Troubles, the Holocaust..to say nothing of those still under siege in Africa, the middle East and Russia. My God…the lion hearts it’s taken to come this far. It’s an honor and privilege to be an ally in the trenches to see this much change, and hopefully the change that all deserve to be free.

  10. Geoff Hardy 7 Nov 2013, 10:45pm

    I remember campaigning and talking with Sharley. She had a wonderful spirit and a manner of speaking that got to the core of things in a very personal way. Her own personal stories were heartbreaking, yet she used them to fight injustice and to work towards a better world for everyone. Thank you Sharley.

  11. Steven Cranfield 22 Nov 2013, 10:30am

    Like many others, I was sorry to hear of Sharley’s death. But what a life to have lived! She and I were volunteers at the Terrence Higgins Trust at the same time during the 1980s and I recall especially her sense of humour, wisdom, compassion and well directed sense of anger at injustice and intolerance. And of course her tireless energy. She was a truly inspirational figure on many fronts.

  12. Dai Harris 24 Nov 2013, 9:10am

    Will miss you Sharley. Echo the comments above – you were a great inspiration and support at Hyde Park and THT. You encouraged us to speak out.

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