This thesis examines the involvement of lesbians within social political movements throughout the 1970s and 1980s. It primarily focuses on their involvement in the GLF and WLM, as well as, some of the groups that grew out of these movements, which catered towards BAME or disabled lesbians. There has been a lack of historiography on lesbian history and previous scholarship has often focused on broad histories and overlooked the specific experiences of different lesbians, or briefly touched upon the contributions of lesbians to gay male histories. This project aims to look deeper at the experiences of lesbians by analysing specific groups and events and it will use a socio-cultural approach by comparing oral testimonies with the narratives and experiences presented by magazines tied to the movements such as; Sappho, Spare Rib, and Come Together. Thus, this project will use both women’s and queer history to understand the experience of lesbians.
The project will focus on ideas of belonging and exclusion as lesbian activists searched for an organisation that were inclusive of both their oppression and identity as women and lesbians. It will argue that lesbians had to fight and campaign tirelessly to have their voices heard within the GLF and WLM, and when their issues and identities were not catered for, they established their own groups and networks to provide support and friendship. The purpose of this thesis is to demonstrate the contributions of lesbians to political movements and that through a steadfast commitment to addressing and combatting their oppression, many lesbian activists found spaces where they had a sense of belonging.
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