Who are WE? How did we get HERE? Where ARE we NOW? What do we want OUR FUTURE to look like? How did we get to FUCK IN PEACE? And how can WE make this HAPPEN more? What can London and Berlin learn from each other?

Sex, lust, liberation, activism, freedom and orgies in the bushes were all part of the sordid conversation this Autumn when the Berlin Faeries invited London’s legendary Andrew Lumsden and Stuart Feather from the ‘Gay Liberation Front’ (GLF) alongside Dan Glass from ‘Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time’ to come and share as part of ‘Drei Schwule Aus London – Queer Activism Then and Now’.

2017 in the UK has been a landmark year as it is the 50th anniversary of the passing of the ‘Sexual Offences Act’ which resulted in the partial decriminalisation of sex between men in England and Wales. Ever since Henry VIII introduced the ‘Buggery Act’ of 1533, homophobic legislation has rippled from the UK throughout the world through British colonisation making it illegal to be queer in 76 countries across the world.

‘us homo’s are fighters and we won’t rest until we can fuck in peace all over Henry VIII’s grave.’

But us homo’s are fighters and we won’t rest until we can fuck in peace all over Henry VIII’s grave. That is why, in a cosy room in Berlin, sparks of creativity and imagination flew off the wall when Berlin’s finest and fiercest LGBQTIA+ minds invited these Londoner’s.

Andrew and Stuart are veterans of London’s legendary Gay Liberation Front. In the early 70s GLF dragged homosexuality out of the closet, onto the streets and into the public eye. Its London supporters held the first gay demonstrations, organised the first Pride march and ran the first public gay dances in Britain. The Front contained an alliance of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transsexuals long before ‚queer‘ was fashionable, and challenged homophobia before we had a word for it.

Their direct action and street theatre were the envy of the rest of the revolutionary counter culture, their politics the most diverse, their communes the wildest and their arguments the loudest. In two short years, the Gay Liberation Front created the conditions for a lesbian and gay movement for generations to come and then imploded into fragments that became our newspapers, helplines and activist groups in the UK.

from left to right: Stuart Feather (Gay Libration Front) / Dan Glass (Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time) / Andrew Lumsdem (Gay Libration Front) / Tom Barber (Tom Barber Yoga)

The formidable Andrew Lumsden was the first editor of ‘Gay News’ – the UK’s first queer newspaper since partial decriminalisation. Fuelled by acid, the drug of choice at Gay Liberation Front in 1970, Andrew Lumsden appears to have been the first national journalist in the world to come out voluntarily. Stuart Feather is the first of the ‘Gay Liberation Front’ Radical Queens to write the radical movements history in the outstanding ‘Blowing the Lid: Gay Liberation, Sexual Revolution and Radical Queens’ which has inspired a new generation of radical queers to take action for their freedom.

Stuart was a Street Theatre member of the Gay Liberation Front 1970-1974 which turned him into a radical feminist queen living in a commune in London’s Notting Hill, the epicentre of the undergrounds social engineering that came with the Permissive Society of the 1960s along with sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll! In 1977 he joined Bette Bourne’s gay theatre troupe Bloolips which first arrived in Berlin in 1978 and this marked his first time back mincing in Berlin. What a delight.

‘The strengthening of queer spirit from Berlin to London is growing.‘

But what’s this got to do with Berlin I hear you ask? Because in 2019 it is the 50th anniversary of decriminalisation in Germany and – just as in the UK – the struggle for full LGBTQIA+ freedom for all is not over.

In Britain today we see a rise in the number of homeless LGBTQIA+ persons, a variety of queer venues in London being shut down in the last five years and growing mental health issues among members of the community. We see LGBTQIA+ migrants being locked up in detention centres, rising hate-crime and a huge discrepancy between queer coverage and exploration between gay men and the rest of the LGBTQIA+ community (it’s ‘history’ rather than ‘herstory’ for a reason). All these facts catalysed Britain into action to commemorate the 50th year:

Andrew, Stuart and Dan along with countless of radical LGBTIA+ movements and thousands of excited queers have set up ‘Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time’, penetrated the meaning of ‘Pride’ by organising events like ‘The Radical Roots of Pride’, crawling up the House of Lords to commemorate radical sexual freedom history, agitating queer venues to become more accessible, demanding a permanent museum to celebrate sexual freedom, organised ‘pretty police’ orgies in the bushes, threw horse-shit on gentrifying luxury developers parties, successfully helped win back queer venues such as the legendary ‘The Joiners Arms’, called for a full apology not just a pardon for queers, paid tribute to the stories of those sexual deviants untold and tore up the streets of London in drag on the ‘Bang Bus’ – and so much more.

The House of Lords represents the powerful who ignore the interests of the few, so this is about visibility, creating something that’s impossible to ignore – a rupture in the impenetrable powerhouse” celebrating the 50th anniversary in London – activist Ariana Jordão told Pink News they put the plaque there to celebrate acts of resistance.

The strengthening of queer spirit from Berlin to London is growing. BREXIT will never stop us. Our overlapping queer his- and her-stories, rebellion, art, souls, spirits, naked bodies and hunger for freedom are far too strong.

So what shall we do here in Germany to commemorate the 50th anniversary?

See you in the bushes.

See you on the BERLIN BANG BUS.

Have staggered home, weighed down by good wishes for the three of us from two lesbians and eight gay men from five countries now living in Berlin. I had a stunning time. A week in Berlin is a demonstration in physics. The din of Brexit is suddenly silenced and time elongates infinitely and wonderfully, before with a swallowing noise you return into the black hole of what passes for England’s politics.” Andrew Lumsden.

What an inspiring afternoon hearing queer voices of many generations from all over the world! Queer history is so important in understanding how we got to where we are today. There is so much to learn from the trailblazers of the past. Queer spirit is alive and well in London, Berlin and beyond!” Tom Barber, Berlin.

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