The 1980s heralded many challenges for LGBT people around the world and Colin Clews examines these in his new book. These included the rise of the New Right in the USA, Section 28 which prohibited the promotion of homosexuality; the trial of Gay’s the Word bookshop in the UK and the continuing criminalisation of homosexuality in the majority of Australian states. Underpinning all of this was the unfolding of the AIDS crisis: a time when LGBT people realised that they were no longer simply fighting for their rights but, quite literally, fighting for their lives.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom; by the end of the eighties there had been some very real progress. Major political parties had LGBT rights in their manifestos, trades unions increasingly took up the cause and regional legislators introduced anti-discrimination laws and policies. LGBT people became more prolific in film, television, music and literature and the LGBT community grew significantly.
The book also examines the dynamics behind these changes; some the result of prolonged campaigns, others stemming from the growing influence of the ‘pink pound/dollar’, others still a consequence of the growing anger at government intransigence to the AIDS crisis. Gay in the 80s examines a number of the events and issues in the UK, USA and Australia, giving a comprehensive perspective of LGBT reality during this decade The book covers the broad political context of the 1980s and takes a comparative approach to events in the three countries where Colin either lived or spent large amounts of time. Colin Clews’ debut book offers a unique perspective on a pivotal era in LGBT history.
It will appeal to readers that want to learn more about the LGBT experience in the 1980s. Its publication also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which partially decriminalised homosexuality, and the 30th anniversary of the ‘Don’t Die of Ignorance’ AIDS awareness campaign. A number of film and television events are planned to commemorate both anniversaries and Colin will be contributing to some of them.
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