Lindsay River addressed an open meeting in central Croydon on the 2nd of August. She was speaking at The Brief, 48 George Street, as part of the series “the Brief Encounter”, organised by Croydon Area Gay Society (CAGS).
Lindsay began with her own history as a lesbian activist. In the early 1970s two distinct groups were campaigning for gay rights: GLF was more radical and challenged the depths of heterosexism in society, whereas CHE was very good at putting the rights of gay people on the agenda. Lindsay had heard that CHE was mainly men, so she and her girlfriend joined GLF, but found that most of the women members had walked out of GLF the week before! “At one point I thought I wasn’t qualified to be a lesbian and join lesbian groups, as I’d had boyfriends as well as girlfriends. Love and desire are very complicated: we need to be more inclusive.”
“Many lesbians in the 1970s avoided mixed gay groups: they felt they had more in common with straight women than with gay men, and some of them became influential in the feminist movement. And for many years the gay agenda was dominated by men’s issues such as the the age of consent – but opposition to Section 28 brought us all back together.”
In recent years Lindsay has been concentrating on the concerns of older LGBT people: campaigning, publicising the older LGBT experience, and raising issues at Government conferences, such as the need for gay-friendly care homes. “Age UK and some other older organisations have begun to take us seriously, but a lot of the work depends on short term funding and could be threatened in this age of increasing cuts. We really need groups such as Silver Rainbow (Croydon’s group for older gay people) that run themselves and don’t rely on funding.”
Lindsay trained as a drama teacher, and plays an active part in two radical drama groups: AGLOW (Association of Greater London Older Women) and Drill Hall Darlings. She ended the evening with a piece she had written for Drill Hall Darlings.
David Page, Chair of CAGS, said “There was a very nice atmosphere to this meeting; Lindsay gave us some fascinating insights into the gay world from a woman’s perspective, and provoked a very interesting discussion.”