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The Contributions Of Gay Liberation Front To LGBT Society

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This case study will argue that the Gay LIberation Front (GLF) between 1969 and 1973 challenged gay people to become known publicly and in society, as well as exploring the different ways they were oppressed by society. The GLF wanted to make a large change in society not just change how the legal system worked. This study will further examine other supporrting social movement organisations (SMO’s) as a form of their protest which significally contributed to the solution of their problems and spreading more awarness for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer+ (LGBTQ+) society. The repooritres and logics of action within the GLF and what solutions they came up with towards the problems faced will also be examined.Even though by the end of 1973 GLF had stopped being a group, their developments through the organisation has stayed alive. This is seen tfhrough vardious gay rights organisations that evolved in the 1980/90s which have the GLF’s devolpments as part of their work in their organsiations.


The GLF has a very broad background which began in the USA. They represented gays, gay was a term for both gay and lesbians and tried to voice them to be visible and come out. The GLF evolved from the Stonewall Riots which was to do with a illegal but popular gay club. New York City police raided the stonewall inn, so as a consequence of this, the LGBT’s were fed up of the harassment and started a protest that lasted for five days. This created uprising for the LGBT society and a new revolutionary era. Even though the GLf could be seen as evolving from the Stonewall riots, the power and uprising of this movement might of arose from the rise of radicalism in the late 1960 towards gays.

This then became wider across other countries including the UK through a range of protests which started to occur. The GLF was firstly maid up of 19 people meeting in a basement in the London School of Economics. The GLF wanted to put together a group of men to join urban communites ‘Fort HILL FAGGOTS: We are creatuing a radicalized faggot community in Boston. Interested?’. These advertisements started appearing more and more in various magazines to advertise this social organization movement to everyone in the USA which then began to grow wider through protests into the UK.

The term gay was not accatable in schools, on the streets, anywhere. Children would get bullied and beaten up if they considered themselves as gay untill they have left school. The world health organisation seen being gay as a physical disease and a phycological disorsed. However ebing a lesbian was not illegal and was accepted compared to being gay which was in theory sexism. Therefore when the GLF came in to force it was their target to focus on reform of tolerance of gay people. This has dramatically changed nowadays and homophobia is not seen as abnormal as there is greater acceptance from society for gays but also the LGBTQ+ society. There is an idea of equality for everyone as before there was either lesbian or gay but now this society has broadened and there is a feeling for everyone of being the same as others.

Ideology and framing

The GLF had ideological differences to say the least. Those differences included a divide between the revolutionary ideologies, resistruibituce political ideologies and single interest politics. These differences mean that the group faced various inssues including whether or not to support black panther activites as well as facing disuptes of whether to include the transsexual and drag queens communtiy. As they did not include diversity within the organisation, it would be seen as a limitation to the GLF as their emphasis was to promote ‘unity through diversity’ This mean that many lesbains did not join the GLF and decided to join other lesbian organizations such as the Gay Women’s LIberation in San Francisco. However, by the end of the 1970s some lesbians decided to join the GLF in order to push more diversity within the community.

The GLF had many frameworks within their community. Firstly one of them was that ‘gay is good’, this was a great promotion for gays and let homosexuals find it appealing and let them join a community that represented equality for them. Gays identified themselves as people of equality and diversity. They weren't afraid to show who they are are to be visible to everyone. However, everyone else saw gays as a disease and something that should not be allowed. The idea of the stonewall riots meant that the state did not want gays to evolve and wanted to stop this process from uprising and not given any support towards it by throwing riots and giving harassment to those people. However, the riots did fail which meant that the GLF was formed and many people started to join to help this organisation evolve and spread awareness of the word and show the visibility of gays.

Seuxal liberation was the second framing of the GLF. They believed that everyone should be more aware of diversity and that social institutions should not only believe in defining sexual roles. In order for this the GLf wanted to transform the idea of a nuclear family and make it more broad without the biological ideas to it. This meant that gays could come out and share who they are and what their families are to everyone including social institutions. This meant that the GLf could explore the oppression that society puts on them and find solutions for it.

Heterosexism which is ofcourse homophobia. GLF challenged homophobia through their organization, by simply making this organization they contribute to stepping up to others and openly sharing who they are. Their message was “innovate, don't assimilate”, this clearly states that they wanted to create a new sexual democracy for their people, they wanted to end homophobia as well as racism, class privilege and misogyny.

External sources of oppression was not located solely in the state. Instead the movement targeted dominant culrute as a location of sexual repression, discrimination, hostitlity and invisibility.

Forms of action

The GLF have used various different forms of action in order for them to show their invisibility and the state oppression towards them. The repertoires of action was given by Porto and Diani(2006) will be used to understand this. Firstly is the logic of damage which is trying to get attention from the media, through material effects of damaging property for example costs. Trying to convince not just the general public but also the opponents. The GLF did not cause damage or material damage to things in order to get media's attention so this repertoire of action would not apply to this organisation. This would suggest that even though they are passionate about their organisation they do not want to cause physical damage to properties and avoid any costs or any harm to people which suggest that they are thinking about others too.

The second is the logic of numbers which means the more numbers there are the more effective, the more people the better. This means that there will be more publicity, and therefore, good media coverage. Logic of numbers was key to the GLF because their organisation started growing and growing. Also in the stonewall riot after several nights the crown would return in increasing numbers and handing out leaflets to promote themselves and fight for the equality of the gay community. However the logic of numbers was not just through people joining their organisations but also other organisations for gays and the LGBTQ+ community which started to evolve. This meant that many people were backing this movement.

Lastly is the logic of bearing witness which shows the seriousness of an issue for example putting life and liberty at risk, this demonstrates a strong objective. This was present throughout the organisation as they were all strongly committed towards their goals and managed to seek their goals as we can see in today's world were gays, lesbian and the LGBTQ+ community are now accepted by the vast majority of people. Also, once again in the stonewall riots the organisation was ready to fight and help free people which meant they were risking their lives by risking of being arrested by the police.

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Forms of organisation

The GLF doesn't many a formal form of organisation as it only lasted a few years. Even though many other SMO’s have supported it thoiughout and it has developed the gay community and encouragd gays to come out, as well as making the lgbtq+ society more apprarent it does not have a formal organsation.


The gay liberation front was supported throguout it's years through various other social movement organsiations (SMO’s) and groups such as the lgbtq+ community but also from other similar SMO’s. This included queer movements which was developed by aid activism, queer identity and queer theory. This started to break down the barriers that had been put up in the lgbtq+ movement as well as including transgender in things like the London pride banner in 1996. As well as this other SMO’s such as women's liberation movement, the black panther party and the new left meant that the GLF was supported through other wider organisations.

The women's liberatin movement means the GLF were supported by women through a differemt women and feminist organisations that started near the 1970s and continued into the 1980s. Though this movement the GLF found they orientated towards a community unionism. These women did not simply want to receive legal equality, those participating in the movement believed that the moral and social climate which perceived women as second-class citizens needed to change. This meant that they were challenging patriarchy and the line between men and women of society. This caused women to have a definition by society of being in the lower hierarchy in the public. Liberationists believed that women should be free to define their own individual identity as part of human society.(reference) Even though GLF had its own struggles it relied on many organisations mainly feminist ones and the feminist movement.

They also relied on the Black Panther Party. This SMO tried to uphold a male-dominated image that often contradicted the fact that even though how much violence they have recied from the police tfhey did keep tfhe part in tackt. The Panthers had many branches: a social-services wing, providing breakfasts and a literacy program for poor black kids; a publishing and propaganda branch to publish Panther papers and manifestos; a military branch that planned armed rebellions against the police and the U.S. government; and a political branch that organized conferences and meetings. It is difficult to imagine in this time of social networking and, too often, cosmetics-deep “celebrity” politics, any organization as dedicated to complete rebellion as the Panthers, or for that matter the Gay Liberation Front.

The New Left was also a movement which was an allie for the GLF. It was mainly in between the 1960s and 70s which cosnisted of campaigning for a range of social issues such as civil and political rights, feminism, gay rights, abortion rights, gender roles and drug policy reforms. This is way the GLF was prone to this organisation as it was very versatile.

The ones who self-identified as New Left refused to participate with the labor movement and Marxism's historical theory of class struggle. However, others were more attracted to their own takes on established forms of Marxism, such as the New Communist movement in the United States which included freedom of speech.


Although there were successes in the 1970s, there was also adversaries which the GLF faces which was the beginning of an antigay backlash. Dade County Commissioners passed a local nondiscrimination law whicch included protections for discrimination based on ‘sexual preference,’ this caused the first antigay backlash and various discussions around tfhe nation about gay rights. This referendum in 1977 was the beginning of the first wave of antigay activism, a series of referendum campaigns that spread to cities across the country Anita Bryant was a former Miss America contestant and spokesperson for Florida orange juice. Bryant had a campaign were she tried to persuade voters who were concerned with religious rights and the influence on children, that all gay men were pedophiles and looking to recruit children. .

The antigay and antifeminist led to the entry of evangelicals into the public life, creating a agressive countermoevemtn in the form of the Religious Right that would fight with the gay and lesbian movement for several decades. In the mid-1970s, these organized antigay activism developed from small local social networks into many christain churches, radio and television shows. This became a massive adversarie for the GLF as it meant that as it developed it grew wider and wider, which meant it became more public rather than private.

State responses

The main state response to the GLF was repressive. Repression can be defined as a process carried to eliminate unwanted rebellious actions by restraining collective action and providing fewer benefits for their forms of action (Boykoff, 2007). The specific repressive measures applied against GLF can be understood in terms of Boykoff’s model which identifies four main mechanisms of repression; resource depletion, stigmatisation, diverse disruption and intimidation.

Emergent of HIV/AIDS were viewed as a gay plague. This brought gay politics out of its commercialisation and back to into community activism. The news attempted to say sex is a bad thing and that the gay identity was so called dangerous group of people. However evem though this backlash happened the gay people reacted by saying to care and love each other and produce safer sex guides and turn this into something positive. This caused resource depletion and divisive disruption. This was demonstrated by Butler who sees how there is no essence to sexuality, no biological essence to gender, so it problematizes all fixed identities. Especially the ‘drag’ bringing it to public attention.

The use of intimidation by the state caused huge diverse disruption amongst the GLF. as the police were on the move this meant that they were occupying villages all over england in order to isolate gays. As well as the use of direct violence for example the stonewall riots, happening because of the police. Intimidation through the police created exasperation for the GLF movement and others participating or part of this organisation. This intimidation through the pushback of the police caused punishdment to be a rfegular thing for the gay commuity. This meant that policing, punishment and crime was a very important part in the idea of sexuality.

Diverse disruption

The stigmatisation of the GLF caused by the state meant that they were receiving less support through public and private sectors due to the media influence. Howveer ever thought, the biggest higlht of the mass media ingluence was the uprising of gay riots, there was a lot of discrimination and offense from the public and police. There were many news stories portraying the movement in pessimistic ways, such as reported (The Washington Post) the quote “She sat there with her legs crossed, the lashes of her mascara-coated eyes beating like the wings of a hummingbird. She was angry. She was so upset she hadn’t bothered to shave. A day old stubble was beginning to push through the pancake makeup. She was a he. A queen of Christopher Street.” Nowadays there is growing understanding of the difference between transgender women,and gay rigfhts but before it was unacctable. The most significant thing about stonewall riots is that they created the GLF and stood up to those who did not accept it even though it caused a lot of disturbance and offence. The next year, with other groups including the Gay Activists Alliance, the GLF organized the first pride march on the anniversary of the riots.

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The Contributions Of Gay Liberation Front To LGBT Society. (2021, September 20). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 23, 2024, from
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