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Laurie was unique


was unique; an interesting and complex figure. He was an openly gay man from the 1940s, a pioneer.  He was involved in gay life in in Birmingham. He survived the 1950s because he was so out. That gave him a degree of protection. You can’t blackmail someone if they have nothing to hide. He was very sharp and acid tongued at times. I believe he was the only person in Birmingham who gave evidence to the commission”.

“Laurie ran gay bars and clubs in the 1960s in Birmingham, often illegal ones, and was the first manager of The when it first opened at in 1969. He was a mover and a shaker and without him I don’t think The Nightingale would have survived the first 2 years. His experience of running parties and illicit gay clubs served them well. One of the illicit clubs was above an Indian restaurant by Steelhouse Lane police station - you had to go through the kitchen and up a spiral staircase, way before my time. There was one right next to Digbeth police station. These places were unlicenced, run by Laurie and a few other people. The sound system was a ‘’ (a type of record player). I am told that the first sound system at The was two orange boxes and a Dancette!” 

Contributed by: Lyn David Thomas, 47

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