50 YEARS AGO

On 27th July 1967, the Sexual Offences Act became law.

For the first time, gay and bisexual men in England and Wales could have sexual relationships without being automatically criminalised.

To mark this milestone in the history of LGBT+ equality, the artist Martin Firrell has created six new public artworks for digital billboards in England and Wales.

THE BILLBOARDS

The six billboards in the series refer to demands made by 1960s activists that still warrant action today.

All six billboards are black and white, just as newspapers and television were black and white in 1967.

Headlines are set in Univers Extra Black Extended first released in 1957 and popular with designers throughout the 1960s.

EMBRACE LESBIANISM

The 1967 Sexual Offences Act did not apply to lesbians. This moment in 'gay' history was not a key moment for gay women - they found themselves undermined, but not outlawed, by the state. Lesbian sex was never taken seriously enough (some even doubted the possibility of it) for society to make laws against it.

The invisibility of lesbianism was ended by the rise of lesbian feminism as a radical political movement in the 60s and 70s. Lesbian feminists suggested there were only two ways a woman could genuinely escape male control - the first was to embrace lesbianism; the second was to overthrow the social order that automatically places men at the top.

HETERO MALE SUPREMACY

The Gay Liberation Front was a revolutionary gay pressure group formed in London.

The group argued that the oppression of both women and homosexuals was a by-product of traditional gender roles because masculinity itself was historically associated with domination, oppression and violence.

The Gay Liberation Front manifesto went on to explain, 'The verbal attack on men and women who do not behave as they are supposed to, reflects the ideology of masculine superiority. A man who behaves like a woman is seen as losing something, and a woman who behaves like a man is put down for threatening men's environment or their privileges.'

SEXUAL REVOLUTIONARIES

In 1967 The National Health Service made the contraceptive pill available to all women in the UK for the first time.

(The Pill had been available since 1961 but only to married women.)

Women were now free from the fear of pregnancy. Victorian attitudes to sex were swept away by self-determining women 'on the pill' who demanded the right to choose how they lived and loved regardless of the expectations historically assigned to them because of their gender.

RENOUNCE THE MONSTER MALE

Lesbian activists of the 1960s characterised aggressive dominant male behaviour as sub-human or monstrous.

By lampooning patriarchal power, they aimed to lessen its impact and embolden people from all walks of life to renounce gender-based oppression.

HOMOSEXUALS AND WOMEN

Gay activists found they had a great deal in common with women and the feminist movement.

Both groups agreed that genuine liberation could only be achieved by 'eliminating the social pressures on men and women to conform to narrowly defined gender roles'.

MEN STILL DOMINATE

1960s gay and women's rights campaigners observed that British society was dominated at every level by men and that those men naturally had an interest in holding onto power.

50 years later, British society in 2017 is still dominated at every level by men.

The call for an end to the rigid gender-role system is as urgent today as it was 50 years ago.

THE NEXT 50 YEARS

The Peter Tatchell Foundation, named after one of the pioneers of the Gay Liberation Front, campaigns for Human Rights and LGBT+ equality around the world.

It's free to join the Foundation and joining is a powerful and practical way of continuing the struggle for equality that was started by the radical thinkers of the 1960s.

JOIN THE FOUNDATION HERE

THE ARTIST MARTIN FIRRELL

The artist Martin Firrell uses text in public space to promote debate.

He is the only artist to have projected a contemporary artwork onto the dome of St Paul's Cathedral in London - twice.

His artworks have engaged with the peace movement, the women's movement, LGBT+ rights, black history, and the progressive principles of equality, diversity and inclusion.

He has been described by The Guardian Newspaper as 'one of London's most influential public artists'.

MARTINFIRRELL.COM

MEDIA PARTNERS

Remember 1967 is presented in partnership with leading digital media companies Clear Channel and Primesight with social media support from 24 Fingers.