Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Antony Grey, 'First UK Gay Rights Activist', Dead at 82

Antony Grey, who is considered by many to be the first gay rights activist in the UK has died at age 82. He is survived by his partner of 49 years, Eric Thompson. Grey's work in the early days of the UK gay rights movement was monumental. Friend and colleague, Alan Horsfall (the life president of Campaign for Homosexual Equality) upon hearing the news of Grey's death said: "He'll be much missed, he did a lot of valuable work. He kept things going when it looked like the Wolfenden report might disappear into the dustbin of history. He was a one-man reform movement prior to 1967. He kept the flag flying almost single-handedly."

Condolences to Mr Grey's partner Eric, family and friends.

UK Times obituary:
“Antony Grey” was a pseudonym that he assumed in 1962 when there were real dangers of police attention for any campaigner for gay rights.

His actual name was Edgar Wright.

Grey was born in Wilmslow, Cheshire, the only son of a half-Syrian mother, Gladys, née Rihan, and a chartered accountant, Alex Wright.

Never an “obvious homosexual”, he came out to his parents when he was 32, after finding the partner who was still with him when he died. READ MORE

'First gay rights activist' Antony Grey dies aged 82

Gay rights activist and author Antony Grey has died aged 82.

He is regarded as Britain's first gay rights activist and was instrumental in forcing the government to push through the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which paved the way for modern law reform.

He began campaigning for gay equality in 1958, when he joined the Homosexual Law Reform Society, which campaigned to change laws which criminalised gay men.

He later became secretary of the Albany Trust, a charity set up to help gay men who had developed psychological problems after being persecuted.

Mr Grey had lived with his partner Eric Thompson for 50 years, even at a time when it was considered dangerous for gay couples to share a house.

Mr Thompson described his death as the "end of an era" and recalled how things had changed from the early 1960s.

He said: "One night, when we were living in Hampstead, there was an almighty crash, as though the chimney had fallen down. A coach had crashed into several houses.

"But the first thing we did was not to call the police – it was to make up a spare bed, because you knew that when the police came round they would have been far more interested in our sleeping arrangements than the crash."

Mr Thompson added: "I don't think the younger generation realises how things were in those days." READ MORE


Gay History Musuem: The need for an institution that chronicles our homosexual past. Gay rights activist, Peter Tatchell, explains what he'd put in it:
I first had the idea for a gay museum in 1972, when I was a 20-year-old activist in the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). During those early struggles for queer human rights, it suddenly dawned on me that we were fighting a great liberation struggle handicapped by an almost total lack of knowledge of our own past. Our minds were colonised by a straight version of history, where we queers were invisible.

The battles of those who went before us, like the 19th-century gay rights pioneer Edward Carpenter, were unknown. Even the homosexual law reform campaigns of the 1960s, led by Allan Horsfall and Antony Grey, were (and still are) largely undocumented. Our existence was erased from the historical record. Apart from Oscar Wilde, the only queers who came to public attention were mass murderers, spies, child abusers and men entrapped by the police in public toilets.

Unlike other communities, we had no families, and no stories of tragedies and triumphs to pass from generation to generation. Queers were a people without any sense of a collective past. We were expunged from all official records - except the criminal ones, which documented grisly accounts of trials, imprisonment and executions for the "abominable crime of buggery".