Tributes to Michael Brown
The following are extracts from the statements received by CHE in support of Michael Brown’s candidacy for the Derek Oyston Achievement Award. See also our Press Release.
“Michael is probably the person who has campaigned for LGBT rights for longer than anyone else still alive. He started in 1954, was an early member of the Mattachine Society and the Committee for Homosexual Equality. I first met Michael in April 1971 when we were both in GLF. I went to his house and we drafted a letter to Trevor Huddleston urging him to withdraw for The Festival of Light, which he subsequently did.
“Michael has remained active every year since 1954. Amongst the things he has done are to set up The Gay Jewish Group, bring the idea of Gay Switchboard from America to Britain, be an early member of Icebreakers and London Friend, set up the Jewish Aids Trust and the Gay Medical Association. He ran the Pink Plaques campaign, and was the frontrunner in organizing the 30th Anniversary of the founding of the Gay Liberation Front which saw GLFers speak from the stage at Pride in 1995. He was involved with the London Gay Centre and is currently on the committee for LGBT elderly with Age Concern. He was on the GLC Advisory Committee, he was on the campaign committee at Liberty on the Sex Offenders Register … the list goes on and on.
“Every year Michael attends homophobic events and asks awkward questions: for example he was the first to speak out at the Pride event for the GLF 40th Anniversary (attended by Liberty who had just disaffiliated CHE). He recently was involved in trying to preserve Rimbaud and Verlaine’s house in Camden. He also gives advice and support to many people, and writes and lectures extensively.”
“Michael Brown has been a tireless campaigner for gay rights since the 1950s. In the early days of his campaigning, he wrote frequently to the press, working in the mid-50s to the 60s in the Homosexual Law Reform Society on many active campaigns. As an early member of CHE and GLF, he also continued his support and campaigning work in various groups, including a mental health service called Gay Cope, and was also a co-founder of the first Jewish gay group, later working with the Jewish AIDS Trust. Michael later became something of a gay historian himself, and, often drawing on his own personal accounts of activism; he has given, and continues to give, lively talks on the gay rights movement and what it was like to be gay in the pre and post legalisation decades.
“Now at age of 78, Michael still works for various gay rights causes, and now regularly serves as an Opening Doors (Older LGBT) Project Ambassador, speaking to many groups and the media, not only furthering the rights of LGBT people generally, but specifically working for the rights and highlighting the needs of all older LGBT men and women.”
“I have known Michael since the early 1970s and am still in contact with him and. I am aware of his involvement in gay rights since the 1950s when he worked as a volunteer with Antony Grey at the Albany Trust. Michael of course was involved with GLF and set up a self-help group for Jewish gays. I know that in recent times he has still been active with the gay media, being interviewed by the gay press and helping authors with their books on the gay movement and gay life in London in the 1950s. He is active with Age Concern helping to support older gay people, and has been involved for a long time with community support for Hampstead Heath. For someone in his late 70s Michael is a remarkable man, still fighting for gay rights when other people might be reaching for their slippers It would be nice to see Michael getting some recognition for a lifetime spent fighting for gay rights.”