A group of protestors with a gay teenage group banner


Courage To Be: organised gay youth in England, 1967-1990

Hosted by the LSE Library

In-person and online public event (LSE Library), United Kingdom


Dr Clifford Williams



Dr Gillian Murphy

Writer, researcher and curator

Join us for a lecture by Clifford Williams about the gay and lesbian youth groups that emerged around London from 1967 to 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 and people could be sacked for being gay. 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’.

This talk will also look at other gay and lesbian youth groups that emerged at the time, often with encouragement from the Joint Council for Gay Teenagers and the Gay Youth Movement.

Dr Williams has trawled through archives, including those at LSE Library, and utilised social media networks to reconnect with many who, like himself, were there at the time.

For those who attend in-person, there will be an opportunity to have a look at some archives on the subject of the talk.

Clifford Williams grew up in a Quaker family. From an early age he was made very socially and politically aware of world events by his father, who used to take him on demonstrations in London. Growing up as a gay teenager he sometimes felt isolated until he discovered the London Gay Teenage Group.

Clifford studied History and Social Anthropology at SOAS, just up the road from LSE (which he visited for judo classes). Following SOAS, he left London to study Criminology at the University of Cambridge, and after that he did research in Yorkshire for the probation service and completed a PhD at the University of Bradford.

His current research is on policing gay men 1950-2010. His work on the history of gay youth culminated in a book published by the Book Guild Ltd in 2021.

Dr Gillian Murphy is a writer and researcher working as a curator at LSE Library. She has written many articles and blogs on women's history.

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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LSE Library LSELibrary

The Hall-Carpenter Archives include posters and ephemera documenting the development of gay activism in the UK sinc… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

25 minutes ago

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LSE Library LSELibrary

Another great event at #LSEFestival! Preview the book being published later this year by our friends at @LSEPress 😘 lse.ac.uk/Events/LSE-Fes…

57 minutes ago

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