The gay news from 1983 – Tatchell, Pride and homophobic bullying

Stephanie Phillips July 7, 2008
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The Gay East Midlands (GEM) magazine has become available again 25 years after it was first launched.

GEM was established in 1983, a crucial time for LGBT people, in a response to the fall of Gay News, Britain’s only gay paper at the time, and the threat of the AIDS crisis.

A new online archive of the magazines has been created.

Colin Clews, one of GEM’s founding members, said: “Given the large number of publications, and even larger number of websites, available to gays and lesbians today, it’s difficult to imagine just how restricted our information sources were 25 years ago.

“And it really was a very different world then: systematic police harassment of gays was the norm and AIDS was just emerging as a frightening and mysterious illness, with the only source of information for most people being homophobic and hysterical media stories about ‘the gay plague.'”

GEM was run by a group of dedicated volunteers and was printed and published in Nottingham.

In its short lifetime, the magazine only lasted from 1983 to 1984, the writers were able to cover some of the most important moments in LGBT history.

The most recent issue to be put online shows a picture of Pride marchers in London a quarter of a century ago.

Back then 2,000 people attended, a far cry from the estimated 500,000 who watched and cheered on Pride London at the weekend. Another issue, entitled Schools OUT, talked about the problems gay kids face in education.

“GEM sought to redress some of that misinformation and ensure that gay men and lesbians didn’t feel isolated in the face of this relentless onslaught,” said Mr Clews.

“But there was some positive stuff to report too; for example, the first signs that some local authorities were giving serious consideration to gay and lesbian rights as part of their Equal Opportunities policies.

“And some things have changed and others remain the same.

“That’s partly why we wanted to put GEM online now – it’s an indication of the way things were and a measure of how much we have (or haven’t) progressed.”

GEM certainly shows how some things do not change as there is a feature on a booklet about the experiences of gay people in school, an issue we are still dealing with today, and an interview with Peter Tatchell after his infamous Bermondsey by-election defeat.

Issue one and two were posted to mark the 25th anniversary of GEM’s first appearance in June 1983.

Issue three has now been posted online and later issues will be posted in the following weeks.

Gay East Midlands is available at

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