[Back to People With a Story]
Gay Liberation Front: Manifesto
London, 1971, revised 1978
Throughout recorded history, oppressed groups have organised to
claim their rights and obtain their needs. Homosexuals, who have
been oppressed by physical violence and by ideological and psychological
attacks at every level of social interaction, are at last becoming
To you, our gay sisters and brothers, we say that you are oppressed;
we intend to show you examples of the hatred and fear with which
straight society relegates us to the position and treatment of
sub-humans, and to explain their basis. We will show you how we
can use our righteous anger to uproot the present oppressive system
with its decaying and constricting ideology, and how we, together
with other oppressed groups, can start to form a new order, and
a liberated lifestyle, from the alternatives which we offer.
HOW We Are Oppressed
The oppression of gay people starts in the most basic unit of
society, the family. consisting of the man in charge, a slave
as his wife, and their children on whom they force themselves
as the ideal models. The very form of the family works against
At some point nearly all gay people have found it difficult to
cope with having the restricting images of man or woman pushed
on them by their parents. It may have been from very early on,
when the pressures to play with the 'right' toys, and thus prove
boyishness or girlishness, drove against the child's inclinations.
But for all of us this is certainly a problem by the time of adolescence,
when we are expected to prove ourselves socially to our parents
as members of the right sex (to bring home a boy/girl friend)
and to start being a 'real' (oppressive) young man or a 'real'
(oppressed) young woman. The tensions can be very destructive.
The fact that gay people notice they are different from other
men and women in the family situation, causes them to feel ashamed,
guilty and failures. How many of us have really dared by honest
with our parents? How many of us have been thrown out of home?
How many of us have been pressured into marriage, sent to psychiatrists,
frightened into sexual inertia, ostracised, banned, emotionally
destroyed-all by our parents?
Family experiences may differ widely, but in their education all
children confront a common situation. Schools reflect the values
of society in their formal academic curriculum, and reinforce
them in their morality and discipline. Boys learn competitiv ego-building
sports, and have more opportunity in science, whereas girls are
given emphasis on domestic subjects, needlework etc. Again, we
gays were all forced into a rigid sex role which we did not want
or need. It is quite common to discipline children for behaving
in any way like the opposite sex; degrading titles like 'sissy'
and 'tomboy' are widely used.
In the content of education, homosexuality is generally ignored,
even where we know it exists, as in history and literature. Even
sex education, which has been considered a new liberal dynamic
of secondary schooling, proves to be little more than an extension
of Christian morality. Homosexuality is again either ignored,
or attacked with moralistic warnings and condemnations. The adolescent
recognising his or her homosexuality might feel totally alone
in the world, or a pathologically sick wreck.
Formal religious education is still part of everyone's schooling,
and our whole legal structure is supposedly based on Christianity
whose archaic and irrational teachings support the family and
marriage as the only permitted condition for sex. Gay people have
been attacked as abominable and sinful since the beginning of
both Judaism and Christianity, and even if today the Church is
playing down these strictures on homosexuality, its new ideology
is that gay people are pathetic objects for sympathy.
The press, radio, television and advertising are used as reinforcements
against us, and make possible the control of people's thoughts
on an unprecedented scale. Entering everyone's home, affecting
everyone's life, the media controllers, all representatives of
the rich, male-controlled world, can exaggerate or suppress whatever
information suits them
Under different circumstances, the media might not be the weapon
of a small minority. The present controllers are therefore dedicated
defenders of things as they stand. Accordingly, the images of
people which they transmit in their pictures and words do not
subvert, but support society's image of 'normal' man and woman.
It follows that we are characterised as scandalous, obscene perverts;
as rampant, wild sex-monsters; as pathetic, doomed and compulsive
degenerates; while the truth is blanketed under a conspiracy of
Anti-homosexual morality and ideology, at every level of society,
manifest themselves in a special vocabulary for denigrating gay
people. There is abuse like 'pansy', 'fairy', 'lesbo' to hurl
at men and women who can't or won't fit stereotyped preconceptions.
There are words like 'sick', 'bent' and 'neurotic' for destroying
the credence of gay people. But there are no positive words. The
ideological intent of our language makes it very clear that the
generation of words and meanings is, at the moment, in the hands
of the enemy. And that so many gay people pretend to be straight,
and call each other 'butch dykes' or 'screaming queens only makes
that fact the more real.
The verbal attack on men and women who do not behave as they are
supposed to, reflects the ideology of masculine superiority. A
man who behaves like a woman is seen as losing something, and
a woman who behaves like a man is put down for threatening men's
environment of their privileges.
If our upbringing so often produces guilt and shame, the experience
of an adult gay person is oppressive in every aspect. In their
work situation, gay people face the ordeal of spending up to fifty
years of their lives confronted with the anti-homosexual hostility
of their fellow employees.
A direct consequence of the fact that virtually all employers
are highly privileged heterosexual men, is that there are some
fields of work which are closed to gay people, and others which
they feel some compulsion to enter. A result of this control for
gay women is that they are perceived as a threat in the man's
world. They have none of the sexual ties of dependence to men
which make most women accept men as their 'superiors'. They are
less likely to have the bind of children, and so there is nothing
to stop them showing that they are as capable as any man, and
thus deflating the man's ego, and exposing the myth that only
men can cope with important jobs.
We are excluded from many jobs in high places where being married
is the respectable guarantee, but being homosexual apparently
makes us unstable, unreliable security risks. Neither, for example,
are we allowed the job of teaching children, because we are all
reckoned to be compulsive, child molesting maniacs.
There are thousands of examples of people having lost their jobs
due to it becoming known that they were gay, though employers
usually contrive all manner of spurious reasons.
There occurs, on the other hand, in certain jobs, such a concentration
of gay people as to make an occupational ghetto. This happens,
for women, in the forces, ambulance driving, and other uniformed
occupations: and for men, in the fashion, entertainment and theatrical
professions, all cases where the roles of 'man' and 'woman' can
perhaps be undermined or overlooked [note: last phrase unclear
in copy used for HTML]
If you live in Scotland or Ireland; if you are under 21, or over
21 but having sex with someone under 21; if you are in the armed
forces or the merchant navy; if you have sex with more than one
other person at the same time-and you are a gay male, you are
breaking the law
The 1967 Sexual Offences Act gave a limited license to adult gay
men. Common law however can restrict us from talking about and
publicising both male and female homosexuality by classing it
as 'immoral'. Beyond this there are a whole series of specific
minor offences. Although 'the act' is not illegal, asking someone
to go to bed with you can be classed as 'importuning for an immoral
act', and kissing in public is classed as 'public indecency'
Even if you do not get into trouble, you will find yourself hampered
by the application of the law in your efforts to set up home together,
to raise children, and to express your love as freely as straight
people may do.
The practice of the police in 'enforcing' the law makes sure that
cottagers and cruisers will be zealously hunted, while queer-bashers
may be apprehended, half-heartedly after the event.
On 25 September 1969 a man walked onto Wimbledon Common . We know
the common to be a popular cruising ground, and believe the man
to have been one of our gay brothers. Whether or not this is the
case, the man was set upon by a group of youths from a nearby
housing estate, and literally battered to death with clubs and
boots. Afterwards, a boy from the same estate said: 'When you're
hitting a queer, you don't think you're doing wrong. You think
you're doing good. If you want money off a queer, you can get
it off him-there's nothing to be scared of from the law, cause
you know they won't go to the law'. (Sunday Times, 7/21/1971).
Since that time, another man has been similarly murdered on Hampstead
Heath. But murder is only the most extreme form of violence to
which we are exposed, not having the effective rights of protection.
Most frequently we are 'rolled' for our money, or just beaten
up: and this happens to butch looking women in some districts.
One way of oppressing people and preventing them getting too angry
about it, is to convince them, and everyone else, that they are
sick. There has hence arisen a body of psychiatric 'theory' and
'therapy' to deal with the 'problems' and 'treatment' of homosexuality
Bearing in mind what we have so far described, it is quite understandable
that gay people get depressed and paranoid; but it is also, of
course, part of the scheme that gay people should retreat to psychiatrists
in times of troubles.
Operating as they do on the basis of social convention and prejudice,
NOT scientific truth, mainstream psychiatrists accept society's
prevailing view that the male and female sex roles are 'good'
and 'normal', and try to adjust people to them. If that fails,
patients are told to 'accept themselves' as 'deviant'. For the
psychiatrist to state that homosexuality was perfectly valid and
satisfying, and that the hang-up was society's inability to accept
that fact, would result in the loss of a large proportion of his
Psychiatric 'treatment' can take the form either of mindbending
'psychotherapy', or of aversion therapy which operates on the
crude conditioning theory that if you hit a person hard enough,
he'll do what you want. Another form of 'therapy' is chemically
induced castration, and there is a further form of 'treatment'
which consists in erasing part of the brain, with the intent (usually
successful) of making the subject an asexual vegetable.
This 'therapy' is not the source of the psychiatrist's power,
however. Their social power stems from the facile and dangerous
arguments by which they contrive to justify the prejudice that
homosexuality is bad or unfortunate, and to mount this fundamental
attack upon our right to do as we think best. In this respect,
there is little difference between the psychiatrist who says:
'From statistics we can show that homosexuality is connected with
madness', and the one who says: 'Homosexuality is unfortunate
because it is socially rejected'. The former is a dangerous
idiot-he cannot see that it is society which drives
gay people mad. The second is a pig because he does see
this, but sides consciously with the oppressors.
That psychiatrists command such credence and such income is surprising
if we remember the hysterical disagreements of theory and practice
in their field, and the fact that in formulating their opinions,
they rarely consult gay people. In fact, so far as is possible,
they avoid talking to them at all, because they know that such
confrontation would wreck their theories.
The ultimate success of all forms of oppression is our self-oppression.
Self-oppression is achieved when the gay person has adopted and
internalised straight people's definition of what is good and
bad. Self-oppression is saying: 'When you come down to it, we
are abnormal'. Or doing what you most need and want to
do, but with a sense of shame and loathing, or in a state of disassociation,
pretending it isn't happening; cruising or cottaging not because
you enjoy it, but because you're afraid of anything less anonymous.
Self-oppression is saying: 'I accept what I am', and meaning:
'I accept that what I am is second-best and rather pathetic'.
Self-oppression is any other kind of apology: 'We've been living
together for ten years and all our married friends know about
us and think we're just the same as them'. Why? You're not.
Self-oppression is the dolly lesbian who says: 'I can't stand
those butch types who look like truck drivers'; the virile gay
man who shakes his head at the thought of 'those pathetic queens'.
This is self-oppression because it's just another way of saying:
'I'm a nice normal gay. just like an attractive heterosexual'.
The ultimate in self-oppression is to avoid confronting straight
society, and thereby provoking further hostility: Self-oppression
is saying, and believing: 'I am not oppressed'.
WHY we're oppressed
Gay people are oppressed. As we've just shown, we face the prejudice,
hostility and violence of straight society, and the opportunities
open to us in work and leisure are restricted, compared with those
of straight people. Shouldn't we demand reforms that will give
us tolerance and equality? certainly we should-in a liberal-democratic
society, legal equality and protection from attack are the very
least we should ask for. They are our civil rights.
But gay liberation does not just mean reforms. It means a revolutionary
change in our whole society. Is this really necessary? Isn't it
hard enough for us to win reforms within the present society,
and how will we engage the support of straight people if we get
ourselves branded as revolutionaries?
Reforms may makes things better for a while; changes in the law
can make straight people a little less hostile, a little more
tolerant-but reform cannot change the deep-down attitude of straight
people that homosexuality is at best inferior to their own way
of life, at worst a sickening perversion. It will take more than
reforms to change this attitude, because it is rooted in our society's
most basic institution-the Patriarchal Family.
We've all been brought up to believe that the family is the source
of our happiness and comfort. But look at the family more closely.
Within the small family unit, in which the dominant man and submissive
woman bring up their children in their own image, all our attitudes
towards sexuality are learned at a very early age. Almost before
we can talk, certainly before we can think for ourselves, we are
taught that there are certain attributes that are 'feminine' and
other that are 'masculine', and that they are God-given and unchangeable.
Beliefs learned so young are very hard to change; but in fact
these are false beliefs. What we are taught about the differences
between man and woman is propaganda, not truth.
The truth is that there are no proven systematic differences between
male and female, apart from the obvious biological ones. Male
and female genitals and reproductive systems are different, and
so are certain other physical characteristics, but all differences
of temperament, aptitudes and so on, are the result of upbringing
and social pressures. They are not inborn.
Human beings could be much more various than our constricted patterns
of 'masculine' and 'feminine' permit-we should be free to develop
with greater individuality. But as things are at present, there
are only these two stereotyped roles into which everyone is supposed
to fit, and most people-including gay people too-are apt to be
alarmed when they hear these stereotypes or gender roles attacked,
fearing that children 'won't know how to grow up if they have
no one to identify with', or that 'everyone will be the same',
i.e. that there will be either utter chaos or total conformity.
There would in fact be a greater variety of models and more freedom
for experimentation, but there is no reason to suppose this will
lead to chaos.
By our very existence as gay people, we challenge these roles.
it can easily be seen that homosexuals don't fit into the stereotypes
of masculine and feminine, and this is one of the main reasons
why we become the object of suspicion, since everyone is taught
that these and only these two roles are appropriate.
Our entire society is build around the patriarchal family and
its enshrinement of these masculine and feminine roles. Religion,
popular morality art, literature and sport all reinforce these
stereotypes. In other words, this society is a sexist society,
in which one's biological sex determines almost all of what one
does and how one does it; a situation in which men are privileged,
and women are mere adjuncts of men and objects for their use,
both sexually and otherwise.
Since all children are taught so young that boys should be aggressive
and adventurous, girls passive and pliant, most children do tend
to behave in these ways as they get older, and to believe that
other people should do so too.
So sexism does not just oppose gay people, but all women as well.
It is assumed that because women bear children they should and
must rear them, and be simultaneously excluded from all other
spheres of achievement.
However, as the indoctrination of the small child with these attitudes
is not always entirely successful (if it were, there would be
no gay people for a start), the ideas taken in by the young child
almost unconsciously must be reinforced in the older child and
teenager by a consciously expressed male chauvinism: the
ideological expression of masculine superiority. Male chauvinism
is not hatred of women, but male chauvinists accept women only
on the basis that they are in fact lesser beings. It is an expression
of male power and male privilege, and while it's quite possible
for a gay man to be a male chauvinist, his very existence does
also challenge male chauvinism in so far as he rejects his male
supremacist role over women, and perhaps particularly if he rejects
It is because of the patriarchal family that reforms are not enough.
Freedom for gay people will never be permanently won until everyone
is freed from sexist role-playing and the straightjacket of sexist
rules about our sexuality. And we will not be freed from these
so long as each succeeding generation is brought up in the same
old sexist way in the Patriarchal family.
But why can't we just change the way in which children are brought
up without attempting to transform the whole fabric of society?
Because sexism is not just an accident-it is an essential part
of our present society, and cannot be changed without the whole
society changing with it. In the first place, our society is dominated
at every level by men, who have an interest in preserving the
status quo; secondly, the present system of work and production
depends on the existence of the patriarchal family. Conservative
sociologists have pointed out that the small family unit of two
parents and their children is essential in our contemporary advanced
industrial family where work is minutely subdivided and highly
regulated-in other words, for the majority very boring. A man
would not work at the assembly line if he had no wife and family
to support; he would not give himself fully to his work without
the supportive and reassuring little group ready to follow him
about and gear itself to his needs, to put up with his ill temper
when he is frustrated or put down by the boss at work.
Were it not also for the captive wife, educated by advertising
and everything she reads into believing that she needs ever more
new goodies for the home, for her own beautification and for the
childrens' well-being, our economic system could not function
properly, depending as it does on people buying far more manufactured
goods than they need. The housewife, obsessed with the ownership
of as many material goods as possible, is the agent of this high
level of spending. None of these goods will ever satisfy her,
since there is always something better to be had, and the surplus
of these pseudo 'necessities' goes hand in hand with the absence
of genuinely necessary goods and services, such as adequate housing
The ethic and ideology of our culture has been conveniently summed
up by the enemy. Here is a quotation, intended quite seriously,
from an American psychiatric primer. The author, Dr. Fred Brown,
Our values in Western civilisation are founded upon the sanctity of the family, the right to property, and the worthwhileness of 'getting ahead ' The family can be established on/y through heterosexual intercourse, and this gives the woman a high value. (Note the way in which woman is appraised as a form of property.} Property acquisition and worldly success are viewed as distinctly masculine aims. The individual who is outwardly masculine but appears to fall into the feminine class by reason . . . of his preference for other men denies these values of our civilisation. In denying them he belittles those goals which carry weigh t and much emotional co/ouring in our society and thereby earns the hostility of those to whom these values are of great importance.
We agree with his description of our society and its values-but
we reach a different conclusion. We gay men and women do deny
these values of our civilisation. We believe that the society
Dr. Brown describes is an evil society. We believe that work in
an advanced industrial society could be organised on more humane
lines, with each job more varied and more pleasurable, and that
the way society is at present organised operates in the interests
of a small ruling group of straight men who claim most of the
status and money, and not in the interests of the people as a
whole. We also believe that our economic resources could be used
in a much more valuable and constructive way than they are at
the moment-but that will not happen until the present pattern
of male dominance in our society changes too.
That is why any reforms we might painfully exact from our rulers
would only be fragile and vulnerable; that is why we, along with
the women's movement, must fight for something more than reform.
We must aim at the abolition of the family, so that the sexist,
male supremacist system can no longer be nurtured there.
WE CAN DO IT
Yet although this struggle will be hard, and our victories not
easily won, we are not in fact being idealistic to aim at abolishing
the family and the cultural distinctions between men and women.
True, these have been with us throughout history, yet humanity
is at last in a position where we can progress beyond this.
Only reactionaries and conservatives believe in the idea of 'natural
man'. Just what is so different in human beings from the rest
of the animal kingdom is their 'unnaturalness'. Civilisation is
in fact our evolution away from the limitations of the natural
environment and towards its ever more complex control. It is not
'natural' to travel in planes. It is not 'natural' to take medicines
and perform operations. Clothing and shoes do not grow on trees.
Animals do not cook their food. This evolution is made possible
by the development of technology-i.e. all those tools and skills
which help us to control the natural environment.
We have now reached a stage at which the human body itself, and
even the reproduction of the species, is being 'unnaturally' interfered
with (i.e. improved) by technology. Reproduction used to be left
completely to the uncontrolled biological processes inherited
from our animal ancestors, but modern science, by drastically
lowering infant mortality, has made it unnecessary for women to
have more than two or three babies, while contraceptives have
made possible the conscious control of pregnancy and the freeing
of sexuality from reproduction. Today, further advances are on
the point of making it possible for women to be completely liberated
from their biology by means of the development of artificial wombs.
Women need no longer by burdened with the production of children
at their main task in life. and need be still less in the future
The present gender-role system of 'masculine' and 'feminine' is
based on the way that reproduction was originally organised. Men's
freedom from the prolonged physical burden of bearing children
gave them a privileged position which was then reinforced by an
ideology of male superiority. But technology has now advanced
to a stage at which the gender-role system is no longer necessary.
However, social evolution does not automatically take place with
the steady advance of technology, The gender-role system and the
family unit built around it will not disappear just because they
have ceased to be necessary. The sexist culture gives straight
men privileges which, like those of any privileged class, will
not be surrendered without a struggle, so that all of us who are
oppressed by this culture (women and gay people), must band together
to fight it. The end of the sexist culture and of the family will
benefit all women, and gay people. We must work together with
women, since their oppression is our oppression, and by working
together we can advance the day of our common liberation.
A NEW LIFE-STYLE
In the final section we shall outline some of the practical steps
gay liberation will take to make this revolution. But linked with
this struggle to change society there is an important aspect of
gay liberation that we can begin to build here and now- a NEW,
LIBERATED LIFE-STYLE which will anticipate, as far as possible,
the free society of the future.
Gay shows the way. In some ways we are a/ready more advanced
than straight people. We are already outside the family and we
have already, in part at least, rejected the 'masculine' or 'feminine'
roles society has designed for us. In a society dominated by the
sexist culture it is very difficult, if not impossible, for heterosexual
men and women to escape their rigid gender-role structuring and
the roles of oppressor and oppressed. But gay men don't need to
oppress women in order to fulfill their own psycho-sexual needs,
and gay women don't have to relate sexually to the male oppressor,
so that at this moment in time, the freest and most equal relationships
are most likely to be between homosexuals.
But because the sexist culture has oppressed us and distorted
our lives too, this is not always achieved. In our mistaken, placating
efforts to be accepted and tolerated, we've too often submitted
to the pressures to conform to the straightjacket of society's
rules and hang ups about sex.
Particularly oppressive aspects of gay society are the Youth Cult,
Butch and Femme role-playing, and Compulsive Monogamy.
THE YOUTH CULT. Straight women are the most exposed in our society
to the commercially manipulated (because very profitable) cult
of youth and 'beauty'- i.e. the conformity to an ideal of 'sexiness'
and 'femininity' imposed from without, not chosen by women themselves.
Women are encouraged to look into the mirror and love themselves
because an obsession with clothes and cosmetics dulls their appreciation
of where they're really at . . . until it's too late. The sight
of an old woman bedizened with layers of make-up, her hair tortured
into artificial turrets, provokes ridicule on all sides. Yet this
grotesque denial of physical aging is merely the logical conclusion
to the life of a woman who has been taught that her value lies
primarily in her degree of sexual attractiveness.
Gay women, like straight men, are rather less into the compulsive
search for youth, perhaps because part of their rebellion has
been the rejection of themselves as sex objects-like men they
see themselves as people; as subjects rather than objects. But
gay men are very apt to fall victim to the cult of youth-those
sexual parades in the 'glamorous' meat-rack bars of London and
New York, those gay beaches of the South of France and Los Angeles
haven't anything to do with liberation. Those are the hang-outs
of the plastic gays who are obsessed with image and appearance.
In love with their own bodies, these gay men dread the approach
of age, because to be old is to be 'ugly', and with their youth
they lose also the right to love and be loved, and are valued
only if they can pay. This obsession with youth is destructive.
We must all get away from the false commercial standards of 'beauty'
imposed on us by movie moguls and advertising firms, because the
youth/beauty hang-up sets us against one another in a frenzied
competition for attention, and leads in the end to an obsession
with self which is death to real affection or real sensual love.
Some gay men have spent so much time staring at themselves in
the mirror that they've become hypnotised by their own magnificence
and have ended up by being made unable to see anyone else
BUTCH AND FEMME. Many gay men and women needlessly restrict their
lives by compulsive role playing. They may restrict their own
sexual behaviour by feeling that they must always take either
a butch or a femme role, and worse, these roles are transposed
to make even more distorting patterns in general social relationships.
We gay men and women are outside the gender-role system anyway,
and therefore it isn't surprising if some of us -of either six-are
more 'masculine' and others more 'feminine'. There is nothing
wrong with this. What is bad is when gay people try to impose
on themselves and on one another the masculine and feminine stereotypes
of straight society, the butch seeking to expand his ego by dominating
his/her partner's life and freedom, and the femme seeking protection
by submitting to the butch. Butch really is bad-the oppression
of others is an essential part of the masculine gender role. We
must make gay men and women who lay claim to the privileges of
straight males understand what they are doing; and those gay men
and women who are caught up in the femme role must realise, as
straight women increasingly do, that any security this brings
is more than offset by their loss of freedom
COMPULSIVE MONOGAMY. We do not deny that it is as possible for
gay couples as for some straight couples to live happily and constructively
together. We question however as an ideal, the finding
and settling down eternally with one 'right' partner. This is
the blueprint of the straight world which gay people have taken
over. It is inevitably a parody, since they haven't even the justification
of straight couples-the need to provide a stable environment for
their children (though in any case we believe that the suffocating
small family unit is by no means the best atmosphere for bringing
Monogamy is usually based on ownership-the woman sells her services
to the man in return for security for herself and her children-and
is entirely bound up in the man's idea of property furthermore
in our society the monogamous couple, with or without children,
is an isolated, shut-in, up-tight unit, suspicious of and hostile
to outsiders. And though we don't lay down rules or tell gay people
how they should behave in bed or in their relationships, we do
want them to question society's blueprint for the couple. The
blueprint says 'we two against the world', and that can be protective
and comforting. But it can also be suffocating, leading to neurotic
dependence and underlying hostility, the emotional dishonesty
of staying in the comfy safety of the home and garden, the security
and narrowness of the life built for two, with the secret guilt
of fancying someone else while remaining in thrall to the idea
that true love lasts a lifetime-as though there were a ration
of relationships, and to want more than one were greedy. Not that
sexual fidelity is necessarily wrong; what is wrong is the inturned
emotional exclusiveness of the couple which students the
partners so they can no longer operate at all as independent beings
in society. People need a variety of relationships in order to
develop and grow, and to learn about other human beings.
It is especially important for gay people to stop copying straight-we
are the ones who have the best opportunities to create a new lifestyle
and if we don't, no one else will. Also, we need one another more
than straight people do, because we are equals suffering under
an insidious oppression from a society too primitive to come to
terms with the freedom we represent. Singly, or isolated in couples,
we are weak-the way society wants us to be. Society cannot put
us down so easily if we fuse together. We have to get together,
understand one another, live together.
Two ways we can do this are by developing consciousness-raising
groups and gay communes.
Our gay communes and collectives must not be mere convenient living
arrangements or worse, just extensions of the gay ghetto. They
must be a focus of consciousness-raising lie. raising or increasing
our awareness of our real oppression} and of gay liberation activity,
a new focal point for members of the gay community. It won't be
easy, because this society is hostile to communal living. And
besides the practical hang-ups of finding money and a place large
enough for a collective to live in, there are our own personal
hang-ups: we have to change our attitudes to our personal property,
to our lovers, to our day-to day priorities in work and leisure,
even to our need for privacy.
But victory will come. If we're convinced of the importance of
the new life-style, we can be strong and we can win through.
The long-term goal of Gay Liberation, which inevitably brings
us into conflict with the institutionalised sexism of this society,
is to rid society of the gender-role system which is at the root
of our oppression. This can only be achieved by eliminating the
social pressures on men and women to conform to narrowly defined
gender roles. It is particularly important that children and young
people be encouraged to develop their own talents and interests
and to express their own individuality rather than act out stereotyped
parts alien to their nature.
As we cannot carry out this revolutionary change alone, and as
the abolition of gender rotes is also a necessary condition of
women's liberation, we will work to form a strategic alliance
with the women's liberation movement, aiming to develop our ideas
and our practice in close inter-relation. In order to build this
alliance, the brothers in gay liberation will have to be prepared
to sacrifice that degree of male chauvinism and male privilege
that they still all possess.
To achieve our long term goal will take many years, perhaps decades.
But attitudes to the appropriate place of men and women in our
society are changing rapidly, particularly the belief in the subordinate
place for women. Modern conditions are placing increasing strain
on the small nuclear family containing one adult male and one
adult female with narrowly defined roles and bound together for
The way forward
FREE OUR H EADS
The starting point of our liberation must be to rid ourselves
of the oppression which lies in the head of every one of us. This
means freeing our heads from self oppression and male chauvinism,
and no longer organising our lives according to the patterns with
which we are indoctrinated by straight society. It means that
we must root out the idea that homosexuality is bad, sick
or immoral, and develop a gay pride. In order to survive,
most of us have either knuckled under to pretended that no oppression
exists, and the result of this has been further to distort our
heads. Within gay liberation, a number of consciousness-raising
groups have already developed, in which we try to understand our
oppression and learn new ways of thinking and behaving. The aim
is to step outside the experience permitted by straight society,
and to learn to love and trust one another. This is the precondition
for acting and struggling together.
By freeing our heads we get the confidence to come out publicly
and proudly as gay people, and to win over our gay brothers and
sisters to the ideas of gay liberation.
CAMPAIGN Before we can create the new society of the future, we
have to defend our interests as gay people here and now against
all forms of oppression and victimisation. We have therefore drawn
up the following list of immediate demands.
Those who believe in gay liberation need to support actively their
local gay group. With the rapid spread of the ideas of gay liberation,
it is inevitable that many members of such groups have only partially
come to terms with their homosexuality. The degree of self-oppression
is often such that it is difficult to respect individuals in the
group, and activists frequently feel tempted to despair. But if
we are to succeed in transforming our society we must persuade
others of the merits of our ideas, and there is no way we can
achieve this if we cannot even persuade those most affected by
our oppression to join us in fighting for justice.
We do not intend to ask for anything. We intend to stand firm
and assert our basic rights. If this involves violence, it
will not be we who initiate this, but those who attempt to stand
in our way to freedom.
This manifesto was originally produced collectively by the Manifesto
Group of GLF. We recognise that it leaves many questions unanswered
and open-ended but hope it will lead to the furtherance of a scientific
analysis of sexism and our oppression as gay people.
Printed by the Russell Press Ltd., 45 Gamble Street, Nottingham
NG7 4ET and revised 1979 and reprinted by Gay Liberation Information
Service, 5 Caledonian Road. London N1.
For information by telephone ring London Gay Switchboard <number>
(24 hrs) .
HTML Paul Halsall