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Sharley McLean – The Loss of a Great Activist

Sharley McClean died on Sunday 26 October 2013.  Here, Peter Tatchell pays tribute.

Peter Tatchell

Sharley-McLean-pictured-on-Queer-Rembrance-DaySharley was a wonderful woman. I was honoured to know her and, in the 1980s, to help publicise her remarkable personal story. She participated in my early campaigns to document and publicise the experiences of LGBT Holocaust survivors – and later to commemorate them and the service personnel who died fighting Nazi fascism.

Until the mid-1980s, it was forbidden to lay a pink triangle wreath at the Cenotaph in remembrance of the LGBT victims of fascism and of LGBT service personnel who fought to defeat Nazism. The wreaths we laid were swiftly removed. She helped me and others overturn the wreath ban.

Prior to the late 1990s, the Royal British Legion refused to acknowledge that LGBT people had served and died in the armed forces. It would not allow a LGBT war veterans contingent to march in the official Remembrance Day parade. Sharley worked with us to challenge this exclusion.

She joined and spoke at our V-E (Victory in Europe) Day commemorations at the Cenotaph in the 1980 and, a decade later, at the OutRage! Queer Remembrance Day vigils at the Cenotaph. The last one she spoke at was on 2 November 1997.

Sharley was a long-time activist in the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, and was a volunteer with the Terrence Higgins Trust in the 1980s. She was a passionate supporter of the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association.

She will be long remembered with admiration and appreciation.

See Where Have All The Heroes Gone

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Categories: Bisexual Celebrities Gay Holocaust Lesbian LGBT News Peter Tatchell Role Models Sharley McLean Transgender

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