In 1979, in London, there was a fundraiser for Amnesty International. They asked Tom Robinson, "the most prominent gay rock star," to perform for them, even though at the time, Amnesty "refused to acknowledge gay prisoners as human rights cases."
here's one lyric:
Have you heard the story about Peter Wells
Who one day was arrested and dragged to the cells
For being in love with a man of 18
The vicar found out they’d been having a scene
The magistrates sent him for trial by the Crown
He even appealed but they still sent him down
He was only mistreated a couple of years
Cos even in prison they look after the queers
What happened to Peter Wells was a genuine scandal and a reason to be very f[***]ing angry. But, specifically with the Secret Policeman’s Ball, Amnesty had ruled that gays did not count as political prisoners and therefore they didn’t support gay prisoners. That’s why I was singing it and that’s why I was so angry, because I was singing it to an Amnesty audience. Hence the venom. Amnesty asked me to come and perform, OK, well have this then.
I think this was very brave of Tom, and still has so much power today. And Tom and this song were part of the movement that changed things to where Today, Amnesty International DOES fight for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights - because our rights are finally understood as being Human Rights. But we still have a distance to go to get to full equality. There's still a lot to be angry about. We still have to raise our voices to protest injustice. We still have to be proud!
Check out more about Tom Robinson and his performance at the Secret Policeman's Ball here.
My thanks to Daniel for sharing this with me, so I could share it with you!
Sing if you're glad to be gay,
Sing if you're happy this way!
(I'm going to be singing that - as an Anthem of fierce pride - all weekend!)