Older gay people who fought to end discrimination celebrated by Camden charity

Cllr Jonathan Simpson, Mayor of Camden, with Opening Doors manager Stacey Halls

Cllr Jonathan Simpson, Mayor of Camden, with Opening Doors manager Stacey Halls - Credit: Archant

A pioneering organisation supporting older gay and transgender people has launched its latest fundraising drive as it faces looming cuts of £70,000.

Opening Doors London, which evolved from a group of older gay men who met at Age UK Camden’s Henderson Court centre in Hampsetad, launched its Raise a Glass campaign with an event at the New Bloomsbury Set bar in Bloomsbury.

The charity, which supports more than 900 older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people across London, is encouraging supporters to raise a glass to those older members of the LGBT community who fought for the rights and freedoms that younger people now enjoy.

It is also asking people to set up a monthly direct debit of £5, equivalent to the price of a drink in many London bars, to support its work.

Opening Doors London manager Stacey Halls said: “Many younger LGBT people simply aren’t very aware of the immense difficulty that many older LGBT people have, and continue to face, as a result of decades of discrimination.

“We have members who have been imprisoned, subjected to aversion therapies to ‘cure’ them, lost friends and partners to violent acts, lost custody of their children and been forced to remain secretive and hidden in most areas of their lives – all because of their sexuality or gender identity.”

She added: “This isn’t about lecturing younger LGBT people, it’s about asking them to ‘raise a glass’ in thanks and recognition – to celebrate the freedoms that we now enjoy.

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“And while we’re at it, sign up for a £5 monthly donation to help keep the service going to support those who have come to rely on it.”

The campaign was launched as Opening Doors London looks to become more sustainable from direct donations as it prepares to lose a major slice of funding next month.

The project is funded through a number of large grants, but two of those, worth about £70,000, end in April. The launch event last week was attended by Camden’s first openly gay mayor, Cllr Jonathan Simpson.

n Visit openingdoorslondon.org.uk to find out more about the cause.