Gay Times Festival

The Gay Times Festival was the first Gay Festival in London. Following the success of the Women’s Festival, Action Space (The Drill Hall) invited the men of Gay Sweatshop to stage their own festival. The men had just returned from Germany and they put the festival together in the space of a fortnight. As Time Goes By was written by Drew Griffiths and Noël Greig for it. Each of the three weeks of the festival was given a theme that correlated with the themes from the three parts of the play. Three new cabarets were rehearsed and performed by the company each week and daytime workshops were organised by Philip Timmins. There was also poetry, film and discussions, and other companies such as the South London GLF [Gay Liberation Front] community theatre group and Bloolips performed their own work. Artists who met each other at the festival for the first time set up other companies, like Hormone Imbalance.

The cultural impact of this event was far reaching. The festival included a discussion panel about the treatment of Gays in the news and on entertainment programmes. This gave the chance for lesbians and gay men to share their views with Fleet Street journalists about the portrayal of homosexuals in the media. On the panel was Jeremy Isaacs, the Director of Programmes at Thames, John Birt, Controller of Features and Current Affairs from London Weekend and Brian Hayes from LBC. As a result both Isaac and Birt made a commitment to do something about the lack of accurate representation on their networks. Isaacs later became Head of Channel 4 and was involved in programming the In The Pink series.

Gay News said the company had succeeded in organising a, ’three week happening that should be remembered as a landmark in the progress of gay awareness in England.’

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