OutRage! was formed in May 1990 at a meeting at the then London Lesbian and Gay Centre in Farringdon, attended by 35 LGBT activists – the joint co-founders.
Its formation was prompted by two things. First, escalating queer-bashing violence, including a wave of homophobic murders – in particular, the kicking to death of Michael Boothe in West London. Second, the huge rise in the number of gay and bisexual men arrested and convicted for consenting, victimless behavior.
Two of our early key demands to the police were: “Protection, not persecution!” and “Policing without prejudice.”
Soon after the founding meeting, OutRage! adopted its mission statement:
OutRage! is a broad based group of queers committed to radical, non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to:
- ASSERT the dignity and human rights of queers
- FIGHT homophobia, discrimination and violence directed against us
- AFFIRM our right to sexual freedom, choice and self-determination
OutRage! was a home-grown British queer rights direct action movement but activists took their inspiration variously from the suffragettes, the American black civil rights movement and from ACT UP and Queer Nation in the US.
Very soon after the initial focus on anti-LGBT violence, arrests and policing, OutRage! took direct action on a wide range of issues, including anti-LGBT policies in law, religion, politics, media, entertainment, sport and business.
OutRage! was an all-volunteer, non-hierarchical grassroots, democratic movement, with no officers, leaders or paid staff. Weekly meetings were open to any LGBT person to attend, speak and vote. It was funded entirely by donations from activists and supporters.
OutRage! was the longest surviving grassroots, volunteer LGBT direct action organisation in the world, lasting for 21 years, from 1990 to 2011.
Thousands of brave, determined, inspiring, selfless volunteers contributed to OutRage!’s successes for more than two decades. They, collectively, made an extraordinary positive impact on public attitudes, values, institutions and laws in the UK – and sometimes abroad too, through international campaigns, such as Stop Murder Music. We responded to appeals for help from LGBT groups worldwide and acted in solidarity with their freedom struggles.