The gay left was widely distributed in the 1970s. Gay leftists who had earlier involvement with socialist and communist organizations and saw the gay liberation struggle in economic and class terms, as well as gender and affectional terms. Gay leftists' involvement with socialist and marxist perspectives were a passing phenomenon in gay activism. Nevertheless, they had a significant impact on analyses of gay feelings of oppression.HOME
The gay socialist and marxist left argued for the inclusion of gay liberation within the scope of liberation issues pressed by larger socialist and marxist organizations. Many of their publications addressed marxist and socialist thought and argued for a place for the gay movement within these ideologies.
Although Washington, DC's GLF was not as markedly marxist or socialist as some other GLF groups around the country, there was a strong interest in both the GLF collectives in national gay socialist and communist thought. In fact, as the DC GLF houses broke up in the mid-1970s some members left for the West Coast where they joined existing GLF, socialist, and communist collectives. Tim Corbett, originally a member of Chicago's Gay Liberation Front but subsequently a member of the GLF collectives in Washington, DC, left the area for California. In 1976, he contributed an article to the first issue of Magnus, a leftist publication of San Francisco's Magnus collective. The new publication intended to focus on arts, politics, and channeling "revolutionary strength and insight ... from the Third World and working class people."
That linkage of class, economics, the Third World, and gay liberation informed much of the gay leftists' publications. In the academic arena, the Gay Socialist Action Project organized in New York City in September 1975. The project organized gay socialist caucuses and panels at the fourth Gay Academic Union conference in 1976. The Gay Academic Union itself had a moderately leftist tilt for some years.
For a while in the 1970s both coasts were home to gay socialist and communist groups. In California, there were among others the LA Research Group, the Red Flag Union, a marxist group which split in 1977 and Lavender and Red Union, which was among the most prolific in documenting its ideology and concerns. In New York City, there were Red Butterfly, an offshoot of Gay Liberation Front/NY and the Gay Socialist Action Project
SOURCES ON THE GAY LEFT from Rainbow History's collection
Bruce Pennington and David Aiken, two of the founders of the Gay Liberation Front/DC, preserved in their papers documents and publications of the gay left.
The following publications from Rainbow History's collections are now available online. Some of these publications are large files and will take some time to load.Carl Wittman's Gay ManifestoThe Gay Left in DC
From the Red Butterfly Collective, a socialist gay liberation collective, New York City, NY
Gay Liberation, April 1970
From the Lavender and Red Union, Los Angeles, CA:LARU's newspaper:From Red Flag Union's newspaper, Hollywood, CA:Come Out Fighting, August 1975 including an update on the strike at the Gay Community Services Center,The Lavender and Red Book: a gay liberation/socialist anthology
coverage of the strike continued in later issues
Come Out Fighting, September 1975
Come Out Fighting, November 1975
Come Out Fighting, Fall 1976
The Political Perspective of the Lavender and Red UnionRed Flag, July 1977, with a cover story on the union's response to Anita BryantFrom the Magnus collective, San Francisco, CA: including an article by former DC GLF member Tim Corbett.Magnus, Vol. 1 No. 1, Summer 1976From the Gay Left collective, London, UK:Gay Left, Vol.1 No. 3, Autumn 1976