Badges have long been significant to the LGBTQ+ community.
Wearing a badge is a simple but powerful signifier for coming out and being seen. The community created through the take up of badges helped early activists create unity within the disparate sections of the LGBTQ+ community.
This is an original 1970s Gay Liberation Front Badge from the Queer Kernow collection. The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was formed directly as a result of the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969 and the first meeting of the UK branch was held in London in October 1970. The GLF quickly grew in strength and numbers and was considered a political protest movement by the national press. In 1971, the group published a manifesto focusing on radical social change, not just legal reforms.
Although the GLF splintered into subgroups in 1973, it paved the way for organisations such as the LGBT Switchboard, Stonewall, and Gay News.
The history of badges in the LGBTQ+ community documents the activities, campaigns, and transformations of social attitudes and legal changes that have occurred in the UK over the last 50 years. They are a lasting tribute to the incredible work of queer activists past and present.
The use of badges to openly campaign for your rights or a cause is not something that is historical. Today, many organisations, charities, and protests still use the power of badges to stand up to the status-quo.
The importance of showing the 1970s Gay Liberation Front badge alongside this modern Cornwall Pride badge is significant as it shows our journey – where we’ve been, where we are, and perhaps, where we hope to be.
The fight for equal rights is not over. While conversion therapy is still legal, and while the UK still lags behind the rest of Europe in regards to trans rights, we need to continue to work together to show our support for everyone in our community.
Following in these footsteps, Queer Kernow have created pronoun badges to show our support and respect for transgender people in our community, and logo badges to highlight that Cornish History is Queer History. The proceeds from badge sales will go towards keeping Queer Kernow running.