1967 to present – Building Communities : life since legalisation


Some national/international events are included for context.

1967 July 27: Sexual Offences Act passed by Parliament, partially decriminalising male homosexual relations in England and Wales. It was based on the recommendations of the Wolfenden Report (1957).

1967 December: Demolition of the Ship Inn, Redcliffe Hill (date of closure as a gay bar uncertain).

1969 June 28: Stonewall Riots, New York – a milestone in the gay civil rights movement.
Summer: Formation of Committee for Homosexual Equality (CHE) in Manchester. Renamed the Campaign for Homosexual Equality in May 1971.

1970 April: First meeting of Bristol CHE.
October: First London meeting of Gay Liberation Front (GLF).

c. October 1970 Re-opening of the Moulin Rouge, Worrall Road, Clifton as Bristol’s first gay club.

1971 November: Founding of Bath Gay Awareness Group. In 1981 it became Bath CHE and in 1982 transformed again into GayWest.

c. 1973-5: Second proliferation of gay venues; The Oasis in Park Row; The Ship in Lower Park Row; Club 49 on Christmas Steps; The Elephant in St Nicholas Street.

1975 Closure of the Radnor Hotel as a gay venue: customers transfer to The Elephant.
February 1: Bristol Gay Switchboard started operation at Hill Street, Totterdown.
October 18: Bristol branch of Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) opens; the third MCC church in Britain after London and Birmingham. The minister was Angela Needham, a MCC lay minister. MCC in Bristol closed after about 18 months.

1976 October: Closure of the Moulin Rouge, Bristol’s first gay club.

1977 Summer: Bristol’s first Gay Pride held as a fundraiser for the Gay News blasphemy trial.
1977 Autumn: First issue of Bridge, the magazine of Bristol CHE.

1978 Bristol Gay Centre founded at the former McArthur Warehouse, Gas Ferry Road. It houses Bristol Gay Switchboard and other groups.

1981 September: main libraries in Bath, Bristol and Weston-Super-Mare stock Gay News.

1982 September: GayWest forms out of remnants of Bath CHE – the longest running and once probably the largest gay community group in Britain. In January 1983 the assets and membership of Bristol CHE were also absorbed into GayWest.

1983 December: Bristol Gay Centre closes.

1985 January 29: death of Aled Richards at Ham Green Hospital. The first Bristol man known to die of AIDS related illness.
November 5 : Launch of Aled Richards Trust, Bristol’s HIV/AIDS charity and equivalent of London’s Terrence Higgins Trust, with which it later merged. ART’s first premises were at 1 Mark Lane BS1.

1988 March to June:Section 28‘ protests. Many Bristolians joined the London or Manchester marches. A protest meeting was held at the Arnolfini.

1989: Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) is re-established in Bath, its second local incarnation (see 1975).

1991 June 11: The earliest known LGBT postmark in the UK issued to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Avon Pride.

1994 February: Age of consent for men lowered to 18. The maintenance of a higher age of consent than for heterosexuals breached the European Convention on Human Rights.
March/April: Avon and Somerset police appoints a Lesbian & Gay Liaison Officer for Bristol to improve relationships with LGBT communities.

1995  Formation of Avon & Somerset Lesbian & Gay Policing Initiative.

1995 July: Freedom Youth formed – Bristol’s social and support group for young LGBT people. Awarded funding from National Lottery Fund in June 1996.

c. 1995 gay businesses start to open around Old Market. By 2000 there is a core of shops, cafes, bars, clubs and a sauna, and Old Market is being referred to as a ‘gay village’.

1996 September: First meeting of Yate based Outreach, the first social group to defy Section 28 by receiving local authority funding.

1997 January: Bristol Families & Friends set up to provide support to people with a family member or friend who is lesbian, gay or bisexual.

2001 January: Age of consent for men equalised at 16.

2003 November: Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 repealed.

2005 May: Bristol West elects Stephen Williams (LibDem), the first openly gay MP for a Bristol seat.
December 5: The Civil Partnership Act (2004) comes into force, allowing civil partnerships between same-sex couples in the UK.

2007 April: Passing of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, banning discrimination in the provision of services on grounds of sexual orientation. A legal test case was brought by a Bristol couple, Martyn Hall and Steve Preddy, who were refused a double-bedded hotel room. The judgement in their favour (18.1.2011) is here. The case is now being appealed (December 2011).
Summer: Bristol Mardi Gras (Pride) folds with funding issues.
September: Formation of Sing Out Bristol, the region’s first performance choir for LGBT people.

2008 November: first meeting of Bristol’s LGBT history group, renamed OutStories Bristol in 2011.

2010 August: Pride Bristol successfully revived; a week of social and cultural events culminating in the largest yet gathering of LGBT people in Castle Park in central Bristol.

2012 February: On February 29 Bristol LGB Switchboard took its last call, closing after 37 years in operation. The number was then patched through to London Switchboard which also took the Bristol/West Country information for callers.

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  5 Responses to “1967 to present – Building Communities : life since legalisation”

  1. There was a nightclub in Severn Beach that I gather people travelled to before the Moulin Rouge opened.

  2. Thanks Mike – we’ve had a few very sketchy mentions of the Severn Beach club – no-on can even give us a name, address or anything like dates. I’m hoping to find out more and add it to the list, so if anyone can help with better information please get in touch.

  3. It was probably the Beach Comber Strip Club in the 1960s.

  4. I remember the club, but not the name. They held drag acts sometimes there, which was the attraction for gays at that time.


  5. I think it was called the Riverside Club. I remember a neighbour of mine telling me [in about 1975] about visiting it in the late 1960’s. Does anyone remember Ivor from Box?

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