Aberdeen's LGBTQ+ History

Aberdeen's LGBTQ+ History

Welcome to our LGBTQ+ history page! Read on to learn about the University's LGBTQ+ history.

The University's LGBTQ+ Society: A short history

In November 1975, student newspaper the Gaudie printed an article by two students arguing that it was time[1] gay rights were properly represented on campus, and inviting students to come forward. Gay Soc, the predecessor of today’s LGBTQ+ Equality Forum, was founded not long after in 1976, and in 1979 a motion to elect a Gay Rights officer was easily carried.

During the late 70s and early 80s, Gay Soc organised discos, coffee evenings and other events, and generally provided a space where LGBTQ+[2] students could feel safe and understood. Despite this support, these students didn’t have it easy. ‘Queerbashers’ made it their mission to “prevent gay people from living in peace or living at all”. Out of fear that bashers would show up to meetings, the time and location were not advertised, and could only be obtained by calling a phone number.

In 1991, a campaign was run that saw nearly 50 books on LGBTQ+ issues donated to the university library. In 2001 the society, which was now called Ab-Fab, organised the Gaylidh, a fundraising event that has been a fixture in the Aberdeen gay scene ever since.

The LGBTQ Plus Students Forum continues today, campaigning for LGBTQ+ causes, hosting regular events and providing a community for all those under the LGBTQ+ umbrella.

[1] At this time, consensual sexual activity was still only legal between men over 21 in England, and prohibited entirely in Scotland. This remained the case in Scotland until 1981, and the age of consent didn’t become legal until 2001. Same sex marriage became possible in 2014, and in 2018, a law was passed which issued a formal pardon to men, living and dead, who had been convicted for having consensual sex with other men while this was still criminalised.

[2] In the early days of the society, the term ‘gay’ was used as an overarching term. Later the word ‘Lesbians’  was often added on. In the mid-to late 80s, the acronym LGB (B for bisexuals) was more common, and in the 90s, the T was added to include transgender people. Today it’s most common to talk about the LGBTQ+ community, with the Q standing for queer (an umbrella term for those who do not identify as straight or cisgender) and the + represents a host of other identities. The I for intersex and A for asexual are often also included.

Research carried out by Lise Bos, Curatorial Assistant, Museums and Special Collections