Keith Dobney/The Independent
In honour of LGBT+ History Month, we are sharing rarely-seen photographs that spotlight British queer history.
Pulling focus with this year’s theme #BehindTheLens, these striking images from
The Independent’s Photography Archive offer a close-up of the inspiring and influential people behind the scenes. This latest collection underscores the vast and rich history of the LGBT+ community in the UK, chronicling the ongoing fight for acceptance and visibility.
Some of the photographs depict key moments in LGBT+ activism, such as the fight against Clause 28 and the gay pride demonstrations of the 1990s. You will also find engaging portrait photography of prominent figures in the LGBT+ community, including British politicians and actors.
To order prints from the Independent Photography Archive , call 0191 603 0178 or visit: independent.newsprints.co.uk
Ruby Venezuela performing in Soho, 1995. Drag artist Ruby Venezuela, started out their drag career in their hometown of Plymouth. Ruby later relocated to London and found success in cabaret and on the drag circuit, best known for hosting shows at Madame Jo Jo’s in Soho during the 1980s and 1990s. Ruby supported AIDSMemoryUK and worked to raise funds for Aids hospices and homelessness. To buy this print, click here (David Sandison/The Independent)
Peter Tatchell photographed for The Independent in 1995. Tatchell, an Australian-British human rights campaigner, best known for his activism and advocacy for LGBT+ rights. Tachell was a noted member of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and OutRage!, as well as founding his own foundation the PTF to promote and protect human rights. To buy this print, click here (David Sandison/The Independent)
Stop Clause 28 was a campaign against a section of the Local Government Act (1988) that banned the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities in the UK. The legislation prevented local authorities from supporting LGBTQ+ constituents and expressly censored educational materials that featured “an alternative gay family”. Stop Clause 28 attracted the support of many prominent figures, such as Ian McKellen and Lenny Henry, as seen in this photograph. To buy this print, click here (Keith Dobney/The Independent)
John Gielgud at BBC World Service. Sir John Gielgud was a renowned English actor and director whose stage career spanned eight decades. Gielgud was gay at a time when homosexuality in Britain was illegal. In 1988 he publicly revealed his long-term relationship with his partner, Martin Hensler. To buy this print, click here (Keith Dobney/The Independent)
Sir Ian McKellen on the phone at Stonewall offices before the government’s age of consent reform in 1994. To buy this print, click here (Philip Meech/The Independent)
Norwich City footballer, Justin Fashanu, photographed for The Independent in 1992. Justin Fashanu was the first professional footballer in England to come out as gay in 1990. LGBT+ campaigner Peter Tatchell and Justin’s brother, John Fashanu, are currently consulting on an upcoming ITV drama chronicling the lives of the footballing brothers. To buy this print, click here (Robert Hallam/The Independent)
Age of Consent demonstration in London, 1994. This protest was organised by direct action group OutRage as part of wider campaign efforts to lower the age of consent from 21 to 16. While the 1967 Sexual Offences Act legalised homosexual acts, the law set the age of consent to 21, even though it was 16 for straight couples. Thanks to the persistent activism of the LGBT+ community, the age was first lowered to 18 in 1994 (the same year this image was taken) and finally to 16 in 2000. To buy this print, click here (Philip Meech/The Independent)
Alan Cumming, shot for an interview with The Independent, a month prior to the release of the film adaptation of Cabaret. Queer icon Alan Cumming is a Scottish actor and long-serving campaigner for LGBT+ rights, described by the New York Observer as a “pansexual sex symbol for the new millennium”. He also co-owns a queer cabaret bar in New York called Club Cumming. To buy this print, click here (Nicholas Turpin/The Independent)
Afro-Caribbean gay club in London, 1994. This image was commissioned as part of a series exploring the “Pink Pound” in and around Soho, a phrase coined in 1984 to describe the purchasing power of the gay community. This particular set sought to represent the black LGBTQ+ community of London. To buy this print, click here (Kalpesh Lathigra/The Independent)
Angela Eagle, Labour Party politician and MP for Wallasey, in Victoria Tower Gardens next to Parliament. Eagle came out as gay in an interview with The Independent in 1997. She was only the second politician to come out as a lesbian after Maureen Colquhoun in the 1970s. To buy this print, click here (Andrew Buurman/The Independent)
Stephen Fry at the launch of The Samaritans Week, at Groucho’s, Soho, 1996. Stephen Fry is a tireless campaigner and advocate for people experiencing mental health problems, particularly within the LGBT+ community. To buy this print, click here (Philip Meech/The Independent)
Stonewall FC team practice in June, 1994. Founded in 1991, the Stonewall Football club is a LGBT+ football team, the first of its kind to be FA Chartered Standard. The club was formed by a group of gay footballers following an advert placed in a gay publication recruiting for a Sunday kickabout. To buy this print, click here (Philip Meech/The Independent)
Gay Pride Demonstration, 19 June 1993. To buy this print, click here (Tom Pilston/The Independent)
Actor, author and playwright Alan Bennett at the Chelsea Pen Club after giving a talk, 1994. He is best known for his plays The Madness of George III (1991) and The History Boys (2004). To buy this print, click here (Tom Pilston/The Independent)
Designer Vivienne Westwood. In the Nineties, Westwood launched a clothing line bespoke for the LGBT+ community. Titled 'Gay Sexual Freedom', the line featured rainbow-coloured designs and slogans celebrating gay pride. To buy this print, click here (David Rose/The Independent)
Banners from the Black Trans Lives Matter protest in London, 2020. Thousands joined the march to celebrate the black trans community and to protest against proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act. To buy this print, click here (Angela Christofilou/The Independent)
Stop Clause 28 supporters at The Playhouse Theatre. Artist Philip Core smashes a model of Michelangelo's David with a mallet labelled 28. To buy this print, click here (Keith Dobney/The Independent)