Courage to Be: Organised Gay Youth in England 1967 – 1990

Courage to Be: Organised Gay Youth in England 1967 – 1990

By Dr Clifford Williams

Format: Paperback

(4 customer reviews)

Publication Date: 28 Oct 2021


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Categories: Health and Wellbeing, History, Politics and Society, Self-Help, Autobiography

ISBN: 9781913913632


The London Gay Teenage Group was a unique and ground-breaking youth group. It emerged in the heady days of the late 1970s. Set up and run by young people themselves, it achieved what many thought as impossible: registration as an official youth club catering mainly for gay and lesbian young people, at a time when gay male sex was still totally illegal for anyone aged under 21. 

Surviving for over 20 years, the group helped many young people navigate challenges, such as rejection by society, parents and family, schools, and the workplace. It provided a safe refuge from the competitive commercial and sometimes soul-destroying ‘gay scene’. Documented by former LGTG member Dr Clifford Williams and set in the context of the wider debate and activity of organised gay youth in England, this book offers a new and rarely written about picture of gay youth in England 1967-1990. The author has trawled through archives, and utilised social media networks to reconnect with many who were there at the time. 

Dr Clifford Williams came from a Quaker family and at an early age he was involved in politics. Growing up as a gay teenager he sometimes felt isolated until he discovered a gay youth group and went along. This book captures that experience and puts it in the context of the time. He studied History and Anthropology at SOAS, obtained a Master of Philosophy degree in Criminology at the University of Cambridge, and a PhD from the University of Bradford. He served 25 years in the police service, initially having to keep quiet about his sexual orientation. He is author of numerous articles and books. Recent publications include A History of Women Policing Hampshire and the Isle of Wight 1915-2016 (2016) and The Unsolved Murder of Vera Glasspool (2018). Clifford now lives in Hampshire. 


Emma Warren (Guest Review) - 23 Oct, 2023

This is a brilliantly researched story of a fascinating and important moment in time. It’s a phenomenal read - powerful and thought provoking, and a salutary reminder of the importance of making space for those who need it most.

Mo Hand (Guest Review) - 13 Dec, 2021

A long awaited book that captures life in London for the gay teenager. Well documented and a much needed resource.

Simon Bulpin (Guest Review) - 15 Dec, 2021

I was fascinated to get the chance to see this book as I was a member of the group from the early 80's.
Pleased to see that the influence of the group has extended right up to this day. Many of us took the skills learnt at the group on into our lives and have fought hard to bring the inclusiveness learnt there into other organisations and charities.
Thanking Clifford for bringing back to life those happy days.

Chris Heaume (Guest Review) - 15 Dec, 2021

“Courage to be….” is so well done! It looks fab, flows beautifully, somehow captures just about every element of the whole fascinating and trail-blazing saga, not least the radical nature of it all, and it does so not only through Clifford’s commentary but most importantly through the experiences of those involved at the time and since. And even more importantly, it captures the impact the group made on people's lives.

Having been involved as a detached youth worker in the early days of the London Gay Teenage Group, SAYS, the Joint Council for Gay Youth Work, etc, I found it heart-warming to read and comforting to recollect. It was pleasing how accurately the book interprets the politics and professionalism of the time.

I'm glad the author was able to weave into it the names of so many group members and supporters – and was equally strong on the huge contributions made by different people. I'm sure they'll be pleased to see it. It was also good to see the tribute to youth workers.

Clifford and all those involved in the trailblazing yet almost understated development of such a key group deserve to be extremely proud of Courage to Be and the tale it tells! I hope it is used to underline the importance of young people's freedoms and involvements - and sexualities!

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