OutRage!: An Oral History

©1993 Steve Mayes

Review of Ian Lucas’s book on the history of OutRage! from 1990 to 1996

“The world looks different from this end of the telescope and this is what it looks like.” (Steve Mayes)

Ian Lucas’s “OutRage! An Oral History” chronicles the rise of queer direct action in nineties Britain in the words of the activists themselves. Lucas traces OutRage!’s origins in the sporadic protests against homophobia of the eighties, paying homage to its short-lived predecessors and sketching the hostile atmosphere which were the inspiration and reason for its birth. Individual accounts do not flinch from articulating the disputes over priorities and tactics, aims and methods, which were nonetheless to produce the most original and highest profile gay rights organisation ever.

A pandemonium of noise is what OutRage! have created in the straight media and the queer communities over the past decade. From the high-profile outing of MP’s and bishops to their attacks on hypocrisy in the Catholic Church or homophobia within the Labour Party, OutRage! campaigns have sparked bitter controversy and debate, massively increasing the public visibility of queer issues. Blowing whistles, banging drums and sporting T-shirts with in-yer-face slogans, these self-styled “Queers with Attitude” have had a profound effect on the culture and politics of the lesbian and gay communities and straight society.

Fierce, funny, camp, sexy, embarrassing but ultimately inspiring, here is the definitive account of the politics and personalities behind this notorious group.

“OutRage! has always sought to articulate a post-equality agenda which seeks to renegotiate the values, institutions and laws of straight culture, challenging not just homophobia but the authoritarian and puritanical nature of social institutions — our agenda is about transforming society, not conforming to it.” (Peter Tatchell)

“OutRage! An Oral History” by Ian Lucas is published by Cassell, London and New York, 1998; 244pp; ISBN=0304333581 (paperback); ISBN=0304333573 (hardback).


April 30th
Gay actor Michael Booth is murdered in Ealing
May 1st
OutRage’s first meeting
May 31st
Fund-raising group formed – bank balance £16
June 7th
First demo at Hyde Park toilets against police entrapment
June 21st
OutRage vote to take over Organisation for Lesbian and Gay Action offices at the London Lesbian & Gay Centre
June 30th
Action against Revolutionary Communist Party stall at Gay Pride over their stance on AIDS
Laying of wreath at Cenotaph in memory of gays killed during the Holocaust
July 10th
March with Ealing Lesbian & Gay Forum at protest of murder of gay actor Michael Booth
July 12th
Demo by Brighton activists at Princess Diana’s speech at the right-wing International
Congress Of The Family, Brighton – they get onstage behind her with pro-gay placards
July 17th
OutRage demo against International Congress of the Family – disruption of meeting
July 19th
OutRage vote to buy whistles for fund-raising – Blow The Whistle on Queerbashing
July 27th
First OutRage Whistle Patrol
August 16th
Demo outside Scotland Yard calling on police to stop entrapment, and work harder on solving gay related murders
August 30th
Zap on Paradise Club, Islington, after man beaten up outside and refused re-entry
September 5th
Kiss In at the Eros statue, Piccadilly Circus, to demonstrate against police harassment of public displays of gay affection
September 10th
OutRage outreach trip to Manchester
September 22nd
OutRage support Black Lesbian and Gay Group picket of Brixton Police Station
OutRage deliver first protest letter to gay pub Brief Encounter over their ban on same sex kissing
September 28th
Leafleting of punters outside Brief Encounter
September 30th
Meeting with other gay groups to discuss setting up a London Policing Initiative
October 1st
Support ACT-UP demo against compulsory HIV testing for employees at TEXACO HQ
October 2nd
First Policing Initiative meeting with the Metropolitan Police
September 4th
Steve Stannard ousted as treasurer – bitter discussion of sectarian interests within OutRage
September 10th
Kiss-In at Brief Encounter pub
September 19th
Demo against Ealing MP Harry Greenway over comments he allegedly made over Michael Booth’s death
November 5th
OutRage support Gay Rights In Prison demo at Wandsworth Prison calling for free condoms to be made available in British prisons
Novemmber 27th
Market Tavern benefit for OutRage, hosted by popular DJ Jeremy Joseph

December 3rd
March from Coleherne pub to Earls Court Police Station to protest Police harassment of gays in Earl’s Court
December 9th
Winter Pride – March, OutRage pantomime, headshaving & merchandise stall
December 17th
OutRage Christmas Celebration For London’s Extended Queer Family, Covent Garden – speakers, gay carols, giving of ‘presents’ to the gay community
December 20th
OutRage set up the Coalition For Lesbian And Gay Rights in protest against new legal attacks on SM sex, adoption rights, and increased sentences for consensual gay ‘crimes’ such as soliciting, importuning and procuring


January 10th
US Queer Nation ‘Cell Structure’ adopted by OutRage
January 13th
Initial meeting of The Coalition For Lesbian And Gay Rights
January 14th
Scrubbing Parliament Clean Of Homophobia with mops and brushes
February 3rd
Screening of Derek Jarman’s The Garden benefit for OutRage at the Electric Cinema
February 6th
Mass Turn-in of OutRage ‘Sex Criminals’ at Bow Street
February 14th
Washing Union Jack Clean Of Homophobia – International Lesbian and Gay Association international actions against UK ‘Hat-trick of hatred’ anti-gay legislation
February 16th
Lesbian & Gay Rights Coalition National March & Benefit at Paradise Club
February 21st
Zap on Paradise Club over alleged mistreatment of two lesbians
March 11th
Filming of Derek Jarman’s Edward II; spontaneous zap against pop singer Cliff Richard at same studio
March 17th
Public meeting at the London Lesbian & Gay Centre on use of the word ‘queer’ after OutRage member threatens to set fire to himself over queer ‘abuse’
March 23rd
Zap on Annual General Meeting of National Viewers & Listeners Association – Tory MP Kenneth Baker’s speech disrupted
March 29th
Zap at Home Office against legal moves to prevent lesbian and gay couples fostering or adopting
April 4th
Affinity groups adopted after US Queer Nation model
April 13th
Liberation mass demo in Manchester
April 19th
Zap against Archbishops of Canterbury, George Carey and burning of ‘queer martyrs’
April 21st
New affinity group ‘Whores Of Babylon’ Zap of Rev Lister’s church in Tufnell Park over his homophobic newsletter
May 16th
Re-naming of Office Sub Group to Queer Accountants Never Go Out (QUANGO)
May 21st
Zap on Isle of Man stall at Shipping Exhibition, Barbican protesting Isle of Man’s continued criminalisation of homosexuality, and police operations on gay men on the island
May 23rd
Affinity group Perverts Undermining State Scrutiny (PUSSY) set up
June 12th
Queer Wedding festival at Nelson’s Column, Trafalgar Square
June 13th
OutRage South Kiss-In, Southampton Town Centre
June 21st
OutRage Whistle Patrol/ midnight performance of play TeaTrolley on Clapham Common
June 27th
Gay activist Alan Shea from the Isle Of Man attends an OutRage meeting
July 5th
Outrage invasion of Isle Of Man and zap on Opening of Tinwald (local parliament)
July 9th
Zap on Brief Encounter over their ‘Bring A Fish’ poster, claimed as misogynist
July 18th
OutRage Family Group picket of DSS HQ against the Family Support Bill
July 31st
Faggots Rooting Out Closeted Sexuality (FROCS) Press Conference claiming to show media hypocrisy over the FROCS ‘hoax’ to out prominent British public figures
August 1st
OutRage in-house magazine Queer Reality#1 produced
August 7th
Exorcism of the ‘demon of homophobia’ at Lambeth Palace
August 16th
OutRage merchandise & safer sex stall on Hampstead Heath cruising ground
August 17th
Work It Girl (WIG) ‘urban glamour assault’ on Oxford Street
August 21st
‘Queer Heritage’ zap at Epsom cruising ground over police entrapment campaign
August 22nd
Launch of Focus Groups to look at issues of race, youth, gender, disability
August 23rd
‘Big Nancy’ cabaret benefit for OutRage, London Lesbian & Gay Centre
August 26th
OutRage team wins Vauxhall Tavern Gay Sports Day
August 27th
Queers Underground Asserting the Right to Ride Every Line Safely (QUARRELS) action claiming queer space on London Underground tubes
August 30th
Queer Planet zap against Amnesty International London HQ over refusal to adopt lesbian and gay prisoners as prisoners of conscience
August 31st
Outrage support Gay Rights In Prison demo at Pentonville Prison
September 1st
Queer Heritage zap at Hampstead men & women’s bathing ponds against refusal to allow nude sun-bathing
September 13th
Socialist Lesbians And Gays (SLAGS) action against The Guardian for allegedly homophobic article
OutRage stall on Hampstead Heath cruising ground at night
September 14th
Condom clear-up of Hampstead Heath
September 23rd
OutRage attempt boycott of The Guardian newspaper
September 25th
Lesbians Answer Back In Anger (LABIA) focus group first meeting
October 1st
Hampstead Heath litter cruise
October 13th
Queer Heritage demo at Epsom Crown Court in support of activist approaching cruisers to tell them of underclothes police performing entrapment operation
October 31st
First demo at State Opening Of Parliament
November 7th
LABIA Jennifer Saunders action
November 17th
1st zap against Living Waters ‘ex-gay’ movement at St Michael’s Church, Belgravia
November 24th
Open meeting on future of Coalition For Lesbian & Gay Rights
November 27th
Pro-gay leafleting of students at Havistock School, Kentish Town
December 1st
Zap at St Michael’s Church, Belgravia – 11 arrested
December 3rd
Zap at Church Of England as Press Release issued condemning homosexuality
December 6th
OutRage attend demo against French right winger Jean Marie Le Pen at Charing Cross Hotel
December 12th
Ivan Thoms, South African gay campaigner, attends OutRage meeting


January 26th
Demo outside Evening Standard Awards Ceremony after alleged homophobic reporting
February 6th
EQUALITY NOW campaign for the General Election begins – March on Parliament – 45 arrests
February 15th
Demo against Benetton shops over advertising campaign involving the image of a man dying from AIDS, David Kirby
February 20th
EQUALITY NOW ‘Queering’ of military statues/demo at Ministry of Defence
March 5th
EQUALITY NOW Wink-In protest against procuring, importuning and soliciting laws at Piccadilly Circus
March 19th
EQUALITY NOW Application to register lesbian & gay partnerships
First zap against Conservative Family Protection Group
April 2nd
EQUALITY NOW Employment demos i) Pat Arrowsmith hands in letter to Dept. Of Employment protesting at employment discrimination ii) Demo in support of Alison Halford, allegedly harrassed because of her sexualit, at New Scotland Yard iii) Demo outside High Court during the Jason Donovan vs The Face libel trial
April 10th
OutRage demo outside 10 Downing Street after John Major wins general Election – 3 arrested
April 11th
Stickering zap against Guns ‘n’ Roses records over homophobic lyrics, Tower Records, Piccadilly Circus
April 16th
EQUALITY NOW Teenage Turn-In & ‘Bend Over For Your Member’ demo outside Parliament – OutRage members drop their trousers in an insult to Parliament
April 18th
Stickering zap against Guns ‘n’ Roses, Virgin Megastore
April 25th
LABIA attempt to set up a Lesbian Cruising ground on Hampstead Heath
April 30th
EQUALITY NOW zap on Tory HQ against anniversary of Section 28; free ‘sample’ of homosexuality made available
May 6th
Demo at State Opening Of Parliament
May 8th
OutRage demonstrate against the film Basic Instinct
May 18th
Double zap against Clerical & Medical at their Bristol HQ and registered offices in London, over alleged discrimination
May 29th
‘Safer Cruising’ action on Clapham Common cruising ground
June 25th
Abolition of focus groups after OutRage decide they are being used by leftist groups for ‘entryist’ tactics to disrupt meetings
July 8th
Demo against military queerbashing at Earls Court Royal Tournament
July 25th
End of EQUALITY NOW campaign – March on Downing Street
August 4th
Invasion of Vatican Embassy in London in protest against Church homophobia
August 8th
OutRage vigilante watch against British National Party attacks on gay bars in Soho
August 9th
Disruption of service at Westminster Cathedral to demonstrate against Church homophobia
September 20th
Attempted crucifixion at Westminster Cathedral
September 21st
Zap against Supt Hames, head of Obscene Publications Squad, at National Women’s Council Meeting
October 9th
Hyde Park ‘Cruise-In’ – safer sex campaign
October 27th
OutRage attend launch of gay Christian prayer Daring To Speak Love’s Name, Westminster Central Hall, dropped by its original publisher
October 31st
Coalition For Lesbian & Gay Rights March, London
November 9th
Demo at Royal Mail HQ in support of worker Steven Watts after suffering homophobic abuse at work
November 30th
Zap on London Rubber Company HQ for World AIDS Day, demanding extra strong condoms be labelled suitable for anal sex
December 1st
World AIDS Day demo at Downing Street with ACT-UP
December 7th
Demo at Royal Mail HQ in Cambridge
December 8th
Demo against Buju Banton outside Hammersmith Palais, after his homophobic song Boom Bye Bye referred to shooting batty boys (homosexuals)
December 10th
Storming of Royal Mail HQ in Cambridge


January 17th
Raid on South Oxley Community Church used to ‘cure’ homosexuality
February 13th
Queer Valentine Carnival, Soho, renaming of Old Compton Street as Queer Street
March 26th
OutRage ‘Spank-In’ protest against Operation Spanner SM Appeal outside Court of Appeal
Invasion of BBC Broadcasting House against Shabba Ranks’ appearance on Top Of The Pops after making anti-gay comments
March 28th
OutRage due to be evicted from London Lesbian & Gay Centre after Centre forced to close previous December
April 4th
Zap on Cardinal Basil Hume, Palm Day procession, Westminster Cathedral
April 15th
Phone Zap on Crimewatch, protesting BBC’s ‘incitement’ of crimes against homosexuals after allowing airplay and performance time for anti-gay artists
April 22nd
Invasion of BBC Broadcasting House
April 26th
Protest against John Birt, BBC Controller, Royal Television Society meeting, Whitehall
May 22nd
OutRage move into new offices at 5 Peter Street Soho
May 26th
Zap on John Major’s old school, Rutlish, in Wimbledon, to promote homosexuality and safer sex
June 3rd
OutRage starts meeting at Covent Garden Community Centre
July 1st
OutRage disrupt Haringey Council meeting after allegedly discriminatory dismissal of employee David Morgan
July 22nd
Zap against Crown Prosecution Service – headquarters invaded, major breach of security
August 26th
3rd Birthday Party & Relaunch
OutRage quits London Lesbian & Gay Policing Initiative after raising doubts over police investigation into ‘gay serial killer’ Colin Ireland
September 13th
OutRage & Act-Up zap Bromley Council meeting over alleged HIV discrimination
September 16th
Zap at Western Marble Arch Synagogue in protest at comments made by Rabbi Jakobowitz over ‘gay gene’
September 22nd
Zap with ACT-UP against Benetton HQ, resulting in the arrest of ‘The Benetton 9’. And subsequent court case in which all nine defendants were acquitted. The court case implied that OutRage had been under surveillance by the secret services
October 16th
OutRage attend Anti Nazi League/Anti Racist Alliance march against fascism in Plumstead
November 12th
Peter Tatchell confronts PM John Major in impromptu zap
November 18th
Demo at State Opening Of Parliament
November 30th
Demo with Welsh group Dicclon against Rabbi Jakobowitz at St David’s Hall, Cardiff
December 1st
Distribution of condoms and safer sex resources outside Christ The King Sixth Form College, Lewisham
December 18th
Urban Glamour Assault on London centre


February 21st
Candlelit vigil, Age of Consent vote, Parliament. Age of consent lowered from 21 to 18
February 23rd
OutRage members confront John Major as he opens intensive care unit at Kings College Hospital, protesting against the vote on the age of consent
March 14th
Age Of Dissent March on Parliament
Demo outside the Danish Embassy, asking Danes to invade Britain
April 16th
OutRage Mersey demo against MP Bob Parry for voting against an equal age of consent
Zap on Labour’s National executive meeting in protest at their lack of involvement on lesbian and gay issues, and against the number of Labour MP’s who voted against an equal age of consent
May 7th
Teenage Turn-In, Charing Cross Police Station
May 29th
Zap on Cardinal Basil Hume’s blessing of the new Catechism, Westminster Cathedral
June 5th
Demo against Benetton at Quilts Of Love exhibition, Hyde Park
July 10th
Nude Zap at Hampstead Heath bathing pond
July 26th
OutRage join march against Criminal Justice Bill, Trafalgar Square
Inaugural Lesbian Avengers meeting
August 7th
Queers Against Fundamentalism demo against Wembley Fundamentalist Muslim rally, subsequently adopted as an OutRage action
August 19th
Zap against Sgt Paul Canneaux, Parks Police, responsible for policing Hampstead Heath
September 5th
Handing out of cruising leaflets at Battersea Park
September 24th
Zap against The Courage Trust’s Open Day at Chorleywood aimed to recruit parents of lesbians and gays and persuade them of a Christian ‘cure’
October 9th
OutRage attend march against the Criminal Justice Bill
October 22nd
Zap of Bishop Michael Turnbull at his enthronement in Durham after it’s revealed he was arrested for cottaging offences
November 15th
Zap of Synod Press Conference and confrontation of Bishop Of Durham at Greenwich University Awards Ceremony
November 16th
OutRage zap on State Opening Of Parliament
November 18th
OutRage National Tour starts to develop gay activism throughout the country
November 27th
Zap at Westminster Cathedral, helium filled condoms released
November 30th
‘Outing’ of 10 Church of England bishops at General Synod – named bishops urged to ‘declare your sexuality’
December 18th
OutRage disrupt enthronement of John Gladwin as Bishop of Guildford


January 10th
Letter written to 20 MPs urging them to come out, and outlining the benefits that would be achieved personally and politically
February 21st
Candlelit vigil, anniversary of Age of Consent vote
March 20th
Northern Ireland MP James Kilfeddor dies of a heartbreak – Press allege he was one of the 20 MP’s sent a letter by OutRage
July 21st
Zap of True Freedom Trust Turnabout meeting, Westbourne Park Baptist church
July 22nd
OutRage disrupt farewell service for Bishop of St Albans
August 13th
Protest against Assembly For Islam, Trafalgar Square
August 18th
Demonstration against President Mugabe, Zimbabwe High Commission
August 23rd
Zap of ‘ex-gay’ movement Living Waters International Conference at St Michael’s, Belgravia
September 8th
‘Queer Jihad’ declared against Muslim fundamentalist Al-Muhajiroun at Speaker’s Corner, Hyde Park
October 1st
OutRage & Lesbian Avengers picket Sainsbury’s over funding anti-gay relidious movements
November 12th
Laying of wreath at Cenotaph for ‘Queer Remembrance Day’
November 27th
OutRage nail list of ‘queer demands’ to Westminster Abbey door OutRage join GLF 25th Anniversary, Highbury Fields
December 19th
OutRage zap Queen’s annual Royal Christmas Staff Ball after she allegedly forbids same sex partners to attend


February 13th
OutRage launch ‘Queer Cupid’ campaign for equal age of consent of 14 outside House Of Commons
February 21st
OutRage join NUS for “Stamp Out Homophobia” rally, House Of Commons
March 2nd
Zap at Fulham Police Station after man who was queerbashed is charged with GBH for hitting his attacker over the head with a bottle of champagne- daubing of Queers Bash Back slogan on police wall
June 20th
OutRage message of support read out by Chrissie Hynde at “The March For Animals” Washington DC
July 2nd
OutRage comment on Home Office consultation paper on sex offenders
July 6th
OutRage billboard – “Portillo Screws Queer Soldiers” in Parliament Square during lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Pride March
July 9th
OutRage launch campaign for compensation for gay victims of aversion therapy
August 10th
Queer Political funeral of original OutRage member Martin Corbett & march through Soho
September 12th
OutRage launches “Queer The Vote” campaign to bring gay issues to the fore during the General Election
October 20th
OutRage zap Romanian National Opera at Royal Albert Hall in protest at discriminatory Romanian legislation