A black and white portrait of Dr Clifford Williams


Courage To Be: Dr Clifford Williams on the London Gay Teenage Group

Hosted by the LSE Library

Online public event, United Kingdom


Dr Clifford Williams

Author and researcher


Dr Debbie Challis

Education and Outreach Officer, LSE Library

Dr Clifford Williams introduces his research on gay youth activism from 1967 to 1990, at a time when sex between men under 21 was illegal.

Dr Clifford Williams talks on his recently published book Courage To Be: Organised Gay Youth in England 1967 - 1990. The London Gay Teenage Group was a unique and ground-breaking youth group. It emerged in the heady days of the late 1970s. Set up and run by young people themselves, it achieved what many thought as impossible: registration as an official youth club catering mainly for gay and lesbian young people, at a time when gay male sex was still totally illegal for anyone aged under 21.

Surviving for over 20 years, the group helped many young people navigate challenges, such as rejection by society, parents and family, schools, and the workplace. It provided a safe refuge from the competitive commercial and sometimes soul-destroying ‘gay scene’. Documented by former LGTG member Dr Clifford Williams and set in the context of the wider debate and activity of organised gay youth in England, this book offers a new and rarely written about picture of gay youth in England 1967-1990. The author has trawled through archives, including those at LSE Library, and utilised social media networks to reconnect with many who were there at the time.

Dr Clifford Williams came from a Quaker family and at an early age he was involved in politics. Growing up as a gay teenager he sometimes felt isolated until he discovered a gay youth group and went along. This book captures that experience and puts it in the context of the time. He studied History and Anthropology at SOAS, obtained a Master of Philosophy degree in Criminology at the University of Cambridge, and a PhD from the University of Bradford. He served 25 years in the police service, initially having to keep quiet about his sexual orientation. He is author of numerous articles and books. Recent publications include A History of Women Policing Hampshire and the Isle of Wight 1915-2016 (2016) and The Unsolved Murder of Vera Glasspool (2018). Clifford now lives in Hampshire.

The Hall Carpenter Archives are available to research at LSE Library and more information is available on our LGBT Collections page.

The British Library of Political and Economic Science (@LSELibrary) was founded in 1896, a year after the London School of Economics and Political Science. It has been based in the Lionel Robbins Building since 1978 and houses many world class collections, including The Women's Library.

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