In conversation with Alastair Laurence
Peter Tatchell was a leading activist in the Gay Liberation Front 1971-74 and in the queer human rights group OutRage! 1990-2011.Together with 30 other members of the GLF, Peter helped organise and publicise the UK’s first Pride parade, in London on 1 July 1972. He has marched in every Pride London since then.
Peter stood as the Labour candidate in the 1983 Bermondsey by-election. He was defeated in the dirtiest, most violent and homophobic election in modern British history. He disrupted Professor Hans Eysenck’s 1972 lecture which advocated electric shock aversion therapy to “cure” homosexuality. The following year, in East Berlin, he was arrested and interrogated by the secret police – the Stasi – after staging the first ever gay rights protest in a communist country. After playing a prominent role in the London chapter of the AIDS activist group ACT UP, in 1990 he and 30 other people jointly founded the radical queer human rights direct action movement OutRage! He attempted another citizen’s arrest of President Mugabe in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel in Brussels in March 2001, which resulted in him being beaten unconscious by Mugabe’s bodyguards and suffering permanent minor eye and brain damage. And participated in the attempted Moscow Gay Pride marches in 2007, in solidarity with Russian LGBT campaigners. Together with others, he was beaten up by neo-Nazis, ultra-nationalists and fundamentalist Christians.
Peter’s key political inspirations are Mahatma Gandhi, Sylvia Pankhurst, Martin Luther King and, to some extent, Malcolm X and Rosa Luxemburg.There is currently a Netflix documentary about his life, Hating Peter Tatchell.
Alastair Laurence, who is curating this series, is a freelance documentary film maker who lives near Abergavenny. In recent years Alastair has made films about The Battle of the Somme, a history of British Photography and the poets John Betjeman, Philip Larkin and TS Eliot.
* Ticket sales for this evening will go to The Peter Tatchell Foundation that seeks to promote and protect the human rights of individuals, communities and nations, in the UK and internationally.