LGB Alliance Launches in Scotland: “This is what LGB solidarity looks like.”

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The LGB Alliance launched in Scotland. The meeting took place at Òran Mór, an old church remade into an arts and entertainment center. Above the stage are the words “let us flourish by telling the truth”, painted underneath a rainbow. It is an unlikely but brilliant choice of venue for lesbian and gay rights activism. The auditorium is buzzing. A mixture of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans people, and straight allies have traveled from across Glasgow and further afield to be here.

Rhona Hotchkiss, a retired Prison Service worker, comperes with flare. “For those of you not fortunate enough to be around for the activism of the ‘70s and ‘80s, this is what LGB solidarity looks like.”

Glaswegian through and through, Rhona does not mince her words. She knows that many in the audience will have been made to feel nervous about coming and that some of us have paid a steep personal cost for supporting the LGB Alliance. “What a f*cking outrage it is that we have to be afraid to be here. What a f*cking outrage it is that I have to be nervous about saying I only sleep with women. Well, one woman!”

Rhona introduces the founders of the LGB Alliance, who outline their goals and explain why an alternative to Stonewall is so necessary. They are veterans of the lesbian and gay rights struggle.

Back in 1978, Bev Jackson also founded the Gay Liberation Front. During their first demo, she told a reporter “it’s important to know we are not ashamed to be homosexual.” Four decades on, there is no denying that we have made advances. Same-sex couples can now marry and raise children, which would once have been unthinkable. And yet, as Bev points out, we are once again in the position of having to justify same-sex attraction.

Since forming the LGB Alliance, she tells us, the team has been sent wistful notes from young lesbians about the vibrant lesbian community of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The bars and bookshops have all but vanished. Lesbians are jeered at and pushed out of Pride marches for saying that they experience same-sex (not same-gender) attraction.

Kate Harris had been enjoying a leisurely retirement, until realizing that nobody else was going to create a credible alternative to Stonewall. During the LGB Alliance’s first meeting, she recounts, they presented a letter to the EHRC asking for an investigation into Stonewall. As Stonewall substitutes gender for biological sex and advises organizations to do the same in their policy, Kate believes they have violated the Equality Act as well as betraying lesbians and gays. She is not alone in this view.

In three short months, the Alliance has taken the world by storm. Although male-dominated gay media like Pink News has been nothing but critical, the LGB Alliance has received widespread support. Their JustGiving campaign has raised £45,000. Although critics accuse them of being bankrolled by the religious right – who are so well known for their support of lesbians and gays – most of it comes from donations of £20 and under.

LGB Alliance UK

Before the Alliance, Simon Fanshawe co-founded Stonewall to advance lesbian and gay rights in Britain. As Stonewall has embraced the idea that gender is innate and sex is immaterial, Simon has started to do that work again – this time creating a credible alternative to Stonewall. “We built Stonewall as an authoritative voice. They have betrayed that trust. And it turns out that if you split the gay rights movement, you get a seat in the House of Lords.” Upon stepping down from her role as Chief Executive of Stonewall, Ruth Hunt was – controversially – granted a peerage.

“we must differentiate between sex, gender, sexual orientation, and sexuality – and take care to use these terms accurately.”

Simon’s mission is to rediscover LGB voices from amidst the “alphabet soup”. He is clear that we must differentiate between sex, gender, sexual orientation, and sexuality – and take care to use these terms accurately. Simon is a passionate advocate of solidarity, speaking warmly of the coalition between LGB people and miners during the 1980s. But he warns against conflating causes. “The only way you build inclusion is by recognizing difference.”

The most moving talks were delivered by two young lesbians.

Nicole Jones describes the isolation she felt on campus as a student, the difficulty of choosing between being openly lesbian and finding social acceptance among her peers. She makes no excuses for her generation’s willingness to treat gender as innate, pointing out that PDFs of second-wave feminist texts are freely available online. The LGB Alliance is, she believes, “a beacon of hope.”

Nicole was Magdalen Berns’ girlfriend. Speaking from the heart, she describes the horror of “having to “witness my partner’s death being celebrated before we’d even buried her.” Nicole finds it outrageous that Maya Forstater lost her job for acknowledging biological sex, while the philosophy professor who was “cheering the death of a young lesbian by brain cancer” still holds an academic position.

The other young lesbian to move the audience is Sinead Watson, a detransitioner, who is glad to find herself among people who recognize has as same-sex attracted. In her 20s Sinead went online and read about how transition enabled transmen to feel more comfortable in their bodies and sexuality. She began to wonder if she was “not just an insecure dyke”, but male, and self-referred herself to the Sandyford service.

Within a matter of months, Sinead had been put on testosterone and given a double mastectomy. And then she began to experience regret. Sinead went to her GP, who had no idea how to help someone in her position. She went back to the clinic and was asked “are you sure you’re not non-binary?” Through Charlie Evans, she found a network of other detransitioners. Sinead is blown away by how many other detransitioners there are – and how many are also lesbian women.

Pink News has run a smear campaign, attempting to frame LGB advocacy as “anti-trans”. This image is impossible to reconcile with the room full of lesbians and gays, trans and gender non-conforming people – misfits who have banded together to organize, talk, drink, and dance. The LGB Alliance has gone from strength to strength. And they’re not going anywhere.

Since they began, the LGB Alliance has attracted controversy. Pink News has run a smear campaign, attempting to frame LGB advocacy as “anti-trans”. This image is impossible to reconcile with the room full of lesbians and gays, trans and gender non-conforming people – misfits who have banded together to organize, talk, drink, and dance. The LGB Alliance has gone from strength to strength. And they’re not going anywhere.

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