The Hall-Carpenter Archives logo featuring a pink, upsides-down triangle

LGBT collections

"Every person has the right to explore their sexuality without moral, social or political pressure" - Gay Liberation Front, 1970

 Explore our archives and other sources relating to LGBT history.

The Hall-Carpenter Archives

The Hall-Carpenter Archives is a large LGBT collection that came to LSE Library in the late 1980s. It was named in honour of pioneers Radclyffe Hall and Edward Carpenter but there is very little relating to them in the archive.

A simple collage of two photos. One is of Radycliffe Hall stood smoking with a dog, the other is Edward Carpenter stood with his hands in his pocket and wearing a hat a beard.Radclyffe Hall (left) and Edward Carpenter (right)

Read about the history of the Hall-Carpenter Archives.

Lesbian history

Some examples of lesbian history are: 

Gay history

In 1957, the Wolfenden Report proposed that homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should not be a criminal offence. A small lobbying movement formed to campaign for these changes in law. This ended with the Sexual Offences Act in 1967. Now same-sex acts in England and Wales were legal provided they were consensual, in private, and between two men who were 21 or over.

Key figures and organisations in this campaign were:

  • Tony Dyson co-founded the Homosexual Law Reform Society in 1958. 
  • Antony Grey became the Chair of the Homosexual Law Reform Society in 1963 and spearheaded the organisation through a crucial period of reform.

A photo collage of Tony Dyson and Antony Grey Tony Dyson (left) and Antony Grey (right)

  • Albany Trust was another campaigning organisation which had an important educational and counselling role.

The Sexual Offences Act was a small step on the road to equality. A new catalyst for change came in 1969 with the Stonewall Riots in New York and the start of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Bob Mellors, a student at LSE, was in the States during the summer of 1970 and became involved in the New York GLF. He met Aubrey Walter there, and when they were both back in the UK, they organised the first GLF meeting at LSE in October 1970.

A Gay Liberation Front badge. Purple. Shows a clenched fist

Exhibit: the Gay Liberation Front in Britain

Blog: Sociology and the Gay Liberation Front – Bob Mellors at LSE.

Blog: Mary McIntosh’s archive – research and activism.

  • The Campaign for Homosexual Equality led the fight for full legal equality. It also founded local groups around the country offering social activities and support for lesbians and gay men. Each group produced its own newsletter.
Front cover of manCHEster newsletter from a regional Campaign for Homosexual Equality group

Margaret Thatcher’s government is often seen as a time when the establishment fought against gay rights.

A Stop the Clause leaflet showing their logo and the details of a protest

In 1988 Margaret Thatcher’s government introduced Section 28 to the Local Government Act 1988. This effectively prevented teachers talking about same-sex relationships or from challenging homophobia in schools. LGBT people came together to fight against Section 28 through campaigns like Stop the Clause Campaign and organisations like Stonewall. Angela Mason, student at LSE and member of GLF, led Stonewall during those early years of its campaign.

Section 28 remained in force until 2000 in Scotland and until 2003 in the rest of the UK.

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, founded in 1976,  was also an important lobbying organisation, for example campaigning to repeal Section 28, and a founding member of AIDS Faith Alliance. It also encouraged friendship and support among LGBT Christians as well as helping the Church re-examine its understanding of human sexuality. It is still active today.

A colour photo of a march. Includes a large banner with 'Liverpool' written on it and 'Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement'.

  • OutRage! was a radical, non-violent, direct action group that was founded in 1990 to fight against homophobia in the State, the Church and society in general. It campaigned to bring about changes in the law eg, age of consent. 
    A photo of protestors and an Outrage! protest against the Church
    Find out about some of the OutRage! campaigns.
  • Ian Buist’s papers contain important lobbying papers regarding same-sex civil partnerships. We also hold the Civil Partnership Collection in The Women’s Library which includes one couple’s civil partnership conversion to marriage after the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.

Bisexuality
Front cover of a copy of Bi-monthly, a newsletter for bisexuals

Transvestite / Transsexual / Transgender

Find out more

How to search 

This is just a selection of what we hold on LGBT history in LSE Library. Try using names, organisations, events, places to find material and also search terms such as bisex*, transvest*, lesbian*, GLF, “Gay Liberation Front” in the ‘anytext’ field of the archive catalogue.

Search for LGBT journal titles in the Hall-Carpenter Archives using the archive catalogue (use double speech marks around two or more words). Also search LSE Library’s main library catalogue for LGBT journal titles.

How to access 

Most of the material highlighted here is stored in closed access and must be consulted in The Women’s Library Reading Room. Find out how to book your place and order material on our access archives and special collections page.

Further information 

If you need specific help with any of the collections mentioned here get in touch with our Curator for Equality, Rights and Citizenship, Gillian Murphy.