Printing the GLF newsletter and Gladrag
"The Birmingham Gay Liberation Front Newsletter 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 Dennis Altman, Homosexual Oppression and Liberation) but
could read barely one printed word.
For the next newsletter the Gay Education Group changed
title to Gladrag. I think it was Malcolm Gibb’s idea but it might
have been Richard Dyer’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
The content was mainly personal accounts of being gay and coming out and topics that had arisen in the Education Group and later GLF meetings. Richard Dyer wrote a film critique on “The Killing of Sister George”, probably one of his first published. On the back of one edition we reproduced a horrible letter that we had received from Hughie Green after we complained about his use of the word poof and I remember drawing a strip cartoon of Harold Wilson reading about Jeremy Thorpe.
We published Gladrag between December
1974 to the end of 1976, about five or six editions. We sold it for 10p a copy
at the Peace Centre, the Viking and the GLF
discos. 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