Sub Culture Plymouth

Mr Harry’s Club. 1983, Robert Lenkiewicz (1941-2002) Emulsion on canvas. Project – Sexual Behaviour. By permission of The Lenkiewicz Foundation.

In Plymouth, the Lockyers Tavern continued to thrive and the local gay community continued to be “quietly” gay within their spaces. However, events both at home and abroad were taking place that would affect the city’s LGBT community.
Members of this community were also a big part for the instigation of the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969 following the death of Judy Garland who had visited Plymouth in 1951. Seven days after her death, police raided the Stonewall Bar in New York – a fairly common event during that repressive time. The grieving crowd of gays and drag queens inside fought back. This event marked the beginning of the international gay rights movement.

One year later the first ‘Gay Rights Protest’ was held in New York City setting the foundation for the International Pride Movement and the celebrations we still enjoy today. Political struggles in the UK and the rest of the world persisted though. In 1971, the first Gay March took place in London protesting about the uneven age of consent for gay men.
Surgical procedures for gender reassignment were becoming more accessible and medical and academic thinking was beginning to call for gender to be recognised separately from biological sex. In 1966 the Beaumont Society was founded, a London based social/support group for people who cross-dress, are transvestite or who are transsexual.
On the Plymouth social scene, the Lockyers Tavern received national attention when, early in 1976, The Sunday Times ran a Beryl Cook feature with a painting of the tavern. As it moved towards the end of its lifetime, and final demolition in 1982, the tavern became somewhat of a faded star. By this time, however, new places were providing Plymouth’s LGBT community with spaces of their own. The Gypsy Moth was a favourite haunt of many people along with a large number of venues that, while not specifically designed to be gay haunts, adopted the Plymouth approach of being “okay with it”. Stoke Social Club and the Good Companions Women’s Disco were just a couple of these. Mr Harry’s was a far more openly gay nightclub than the city had seen before and proved popular with all groups both gay and straight.

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