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Printing the GLF newsletter and Gladrag


"The was produced between 1971 and  1974, there were only about  4 or 5 five editions published. They were printed using one of those old  hand-cranked Gestetner duplicators.  You had to “cut”  A4 stencils using a mechanical typewriter with the ribbon removed and every  mistake had to be painted over with stuff like nail-varnish, and  the letter re-punched in.  Most of the later GLF leaflets were produced on one which in kept in my bed-sit in Selly Park.

For the Newsletter of October 1974 we decided to print the cover professionally using offset lithography. Ray J. worked partime at Community Press,  (then in Saltley) and we took his favourite poster from his bedroom wall and made a  master printing plate from it. The poster was called “Gay Brothers and Sisters Unite! Free ourselves and Smash Sexism”, Ray added the red letters by running the reproduced poster through the printer a second time. The rest of the newsletter was done by Gestetner and was barely legible. I had written a long article, (most of which was plagiarised from , Homosexual Oppression and Liberation) but could read barely one printed word.

For the next newsletter the changed title to. I think it was ’s idea but it might have been ’s. After the legibility problems with the previous edition we discussed the possibility of printing entirely by offset litho.  Ray J. commented on the cost of Letraset, (transfer lettering that we subsequently used for headers and titles, and that we would need a Golfball typewriter. We found a Golfball typewriter at Saltley Action Centre and Community Press “donated” the Letraset for the first edition.

The offset process allowed the inclusion of drawings and photographs but the whole magazine had to be typed and stuck together with paste, to produce mock-up that was photographed  to make the printing plates. We needed a separate plate for each colour, so there wasn’t much of it.  We used a lot of simple monochrome cartoons that I drew, (badly) and photographs we stole from other sources. These were useful because they had already been screened ready from printing. Screened plates were expensive and I think we only ever made one which we used for the cover of the January 1976 edition.  (That’s me, centre, holding the GLF banner which I made). We may have made another for an article in the  fascism edition.

The content was mainly personal accounts of being gay and coming out and topics that had arisen in the and later GLF meetings. Richard Dyer wrote a film critique on “”, probably one of his first published. On the back of one edition we reproduced a horrible letter that we had received from after we complained about his use of the word poof and I remember drawing a strip cartoon of Harold Wilson reading about .

We published between December 1974 to the end of 1976, about five or six editions. We sold it for 10p a copy at the the and the . We printed about 100 copies of each edition and all the proceeds went towards the cost of the next one. I think the central library in Birmingham has a collection of most editions.

Contributed by: Graham 2, 55