September 26, 2017

"An activist looks at the world they’re in and imagines it can be better and then does something about it"

LGBT campaigners Michael Cashman, Peter Tatchell and Julian Clary

Photo credit: Peter Tatchell picture by Patrick de Vries/Flickr

In her Better Angels podcast, Theirworld President Sarah Brown talks to British LGBT campaigners Michael Cashman, Peter Tatchell and Julian Clary.

Activism always has its heroes. In the struggle for equality for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people in the United Kingdom, there have been many.

Theirworld President Sarah Brown talks to three of them in the latest episode of her Better Angels podcast series - which features guests talking about how they found their activist voice and the challenges they faced in their campaigning.

Fifty years on from the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, Sarah talks to Lord Michael Cashman, Peter Tatchell and Julian Clary.

Listen to the full episode here

Michael Cashman is a former actor on the British TV soap EastEnders and was famous for the first gay kiss on that show in the 1980s.

He was a Member of the European Parliament for 15 years and now sits in the House of Lords, where he is a special envoy on LGBT issues for the Labour Party.

“I never thought we would achieve equality in my lifetime," he tells Sarah. "It comes about because of activists. What makes a good activist? Imagination. 

“What we have achieved has not been achieved by us - it’s been achieved by thousands and thousands of individuals who have the courage to say no, I need to sign that petition, I need to stand up.

“An activist is a person who looks at the world they’re in and imagines - and therefore knows - it can be better and then does something about it.”

Peter Tatchell is an LGBT and human rights campaigner who started his activism as teenager in his native Australia, where he used the black civil rights movement of the US as his template.

Look at what others have done and adapt and apply those methods and ideas.

Peter Tatchell

He tells Sarah he took inspiration from campaigners such as Mahatma Ghandi, Emmeline Pankhurst and Martin Luther King.

“I looked at their ideas, their campaigns, their methods and I adapted them to my own contemporary struggle for human rights," he says. 

Asked about advice for activists and campaigners, Tatchell says: “Look at what others have done and adapt and apply those methods and ideas - and of course come up with some of your own.”

Sarah argues that comic and TV personality Julian Clary is more of a champion for change in than he admits himself.

Clary says: “There are different ways of achieving things - my need is making people laugh and getting that feedback.

“It is a good way to educate people, through laughter.”

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