Supporting the community through decriminalisation, the AIDS epidemic, Section 28, and into the present, their volunteers are there to listen around the clock; no matter the query. After taking out a small advert in the fortnightly Gay News newspaper, volunteers at the brand new LGBTQ information and support helpline anticipated about six or seven calls on their first day. An unprecedented 45 people called up the London Gay Switchboard — as it was known back then — during that first five-hour shift. Within six months, the organisation had outgrown the basement, moving upstairs, and installing several more phone lines to meet the immense demand. By , Switchboard was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As well as running an accommodation service for finding gay-friendly house-shares, Switchboard advised callers about virtually everything: from legal advice, to what was happening around town.
London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard: The telephone number that helped make gay okay
Switchboard | Bishopsgate Institute
In the 18th century, some businesspersons and aristocrats had, for the time, relatively open LGBT lifestyles. LGBT studies pres were entirely of males caught in scandals. Mark W. Turner, the author of "Gay London," stated that when Derek Jarman moved to Charing Cross in , it began the process of Soho becoming the centre of the London LGBT community and that by the early s this was "firmly established". The Gateways Club was the longest running lesbian nightclub in the world, opening in and closing in
London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard
To mark the 45th anniversary, people have been sharing memories of a charity that's helped millions across the world. Lisa Power used to think of herself as a supporter or ally of the gay community, rather than a member. But in at a march in Lancashire protesting against an employee at a BHS department store losing his job after coming out as gay , Lisa "accidentally" revealed herself as a loud and proud lesbian.
The purpose of the organisation was to provide information and advice for the gay and lesbian community. All telephonists were volunteers who self-identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. The helpline quickly expanded both in terms of calls received and its remit, although it remained a nominally local, rather than national, helpline for many years. Switchboard was a key source of advice for gay men who faced discrimination in all areas of life throughout the s, as well as being at the forefront of AIDS awareness campaigns in the s. In January Switchboard volunteers voted to change the organisation's name to 'London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard' and made concerted attempts to attract more women to the organisation.