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! gets no grants and has no rich benefactors. We depend entirely on donations from people like you. None of us get paid. We are all volunteers. OutRage! doesn’t even have an office. This means that all our money goes on fighting homophobia. With a bit more money, we could do much more. Please send your millions (or just a few pounds), making cheques payable to OutRage!, to: OutRage!, P.O. Box 17816, London SW14 8WT;
History and Political Agenda
Established in May 1990, OutRage! is the world’s longest surviving queer rights direct action group. Our witty, imaginative, daring, and irreverent style of nonviolent civil disobedience has elevated activism into an art form: protest as performance. Some of our most famous stunts include the Queer Valentine’s Carnival, Kiss-in, Queer Wedding, Exorcism of Homophobia, and Queer Remembrance Day. OutRage!’s radical direct action has included ambushing the Prime Minister’s motorcade two days after Parliament voted to maintain the discriminatory age of consent for gay sex in 1994, and invading the Vatican Embassy and Westminster (R.C.) Cathedral in 1992 to protest at the Pope’s support for antigay laws.
More notoriously, in 1994 OutRage! named ten Church of England bishops and asked them to “Tell the Truth” about their sexuality. This generated more public discussion of gay issues than any campaign ever conducted in Britain, and resulted in the Church issuing one of its strongest ever condemnations of homophobic discrimination. Activism gets results! Unapologetic and provocative, OutRage!’s remit is to challenge antigay discrimination, confront the perpetrators of homophobia face to face, promote the public visibility and media debate of queer issues, and articulate a radical agenda for sexual freedom, (which will ultimately benefit everyone). Rejecting the assimilationist and conformist politics of the mainstream lesbian and gay rights movement, OutRage! has pioneered a critical, sceptical attitude towards the values, laws, and institutions of straight society. Equality is important but is not enough, since equal rights alone inevitably means equality on straight terms. That’s why, for example, instead of aping heterosexual marriage, OutRage! campaigns for an Unmarried Partners Act, to give legal rights to all unwed couples, gay and straight. We affirm the sexual rights of all young people and we have distributed condoms and leaflets about homosexuality and safer sex to school students, to combat censorship in the classroom. While other groups campaign for new laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation only, OutRage! is working for an Equal Rights Act that protects all citizens (including lesbians and gay men) against all forms of discrimination, harassment, and incitement to hatred. Our agenda seeks to reformulate lesbian and gay human rights in ways that liberate people of all sexualities.
Direct Action Works!
Just one of our many successful campaigns has involved direct action against police harassment of gay and bisexual men. Years of polite negotiations with the police had done little to lessen victimisation. Because dialogue wasn’t working, from 1990 onwards OutRage! felt that direct action was the only realistic alternative. We began invading police stations, busting police entrapment operations, publicly identifying undercover agent provocateurs, warning cottagers and cruisers with leaflets and stickers, and deafening New Scotland Yard with foghorns and whistles. Suddenly the police sat up and listened. Working alongside a wide variety of other queer organisations, we demanded that the police create an official lesbian and gay community liaison forum where our constructive proposals could be discussed. We succeeded in radically changing police priorities, from persecution to protection (against queerbashers). The result of our actions? Between 1990 and 1994 the number of men convicted for consenting gay behaviour fell by two thirds. So we saved thousands of a gay men and bisexual men from being hauled up before the courts for victimless “crimes”.
Other OutRage! Activities
OutRage! takes up the cases of individuals suffering discrimination. A Cambridge postal worker complained to us that he was receiving harassment at work. He was given no help by his union or manager: so we occupied his local sorting office and the national headquarters of the postal service. By doing this, we managed to get the harasser disciplined and also secured a major revision of the Post Office code against workplace harassment, thereby benefiting all employees.
OutRage! provides information, advice and referrals to the many callers who cannot get through to Lesbian and Gay Switchboard when it is engaged, e.g. advice on finding a gay friendly solicitor, lodging claims for unfair dismissal, and getting help for alcoholism and depression.
OutRage! promotes awareness and education about lesbian and gay issues, by providing speakers to schools and colleges all over the country. We write press articles and letters, and give radio and television interviews (national and international) to complement our campaigning. Our interviews with the foreign media in countries where there is no organised gay rights movement is an indirect way of supporting isolated queers in those countries.
OutRage! investigates and researches antigay discrimination, providing vital information for journalists and radio/television programmes highlighting inequality and the need for law reform. Investigations of ours include revealing the activities of antigay Christian fundamentalist cults which try to “cure” queers; exposing the previous lack of condoms suitable for anal sex in gay bar vending machines (now they are freely available over the counter); and publicising the fact that many well known British companies did not include homosexuals in their equal opportunities policies, (which has now produced some hasty amendments).