A Conversation with Stephen Whittle OBE … One Magazine … Uncle Donald


On 17 November we attended the Pride in Leadership event where the Director Claire Ebrey was in conversation with Stephen Whittle.

Stephen is Professor of Equalities Law in the School of Law at Manchester Metropolitan University. A multi-award winner, he co-founded Press for Change in 1992, and was president of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) between 2007 and 2009.

The discussion covered Stephen’s incredible life story, his perceptions on the progress to date and what we need to do next, and his advice for business leaders.

You can watch the whole event by clicking on the video below.

Stephen’s biography

Stephen transitioned from female to male in 1975. Having lost numerous jobs because of being transgender, he was working in the property development and building trade when in 1985 he decided to obtain legal training on the part time LLB evening course at Manchester Metropolitan University. He primarily wanted to challenge the discrimination he and other trans people experienced. He went on to obtain a Masters, and a PhD.

In 1992, Stephen co-founded Press for Change (PFC), the UK’s trans rights lobby group. PFC’s very successful campaigns have resulted in several major case law successes at the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights, which have led to significant legal changes since the mid-1990s, including the Gender Recognition Act 2004, and full protection under the Equality Act 2010.

Stephen has advised on transgender rights and law to the UK, Scottish, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Hong Kong, and South African governments, as well as the European Union & the Commission, and the Council of Europe. He regularly advises lawyers and writes briefs, or is an expert witness, for courts worldwide. He has authored many academic papers, non-academic articles, several books and writes a regular blog.

He recently co-created exhibitions on what it means to be trans. In 2013, he advised on, and wrote the historical timeline for Liverpool Museum’s exhibition Portrait of a Lady, the history of transsexual people in the UK told through the story of model, April Ashley.

He is married to Sarah – they’ve been together since 1979, and have four children.

Stephen’s honours include:

  • 2002 | Human Rights Award by the Civil Rights group Liberty, for his commitment and dedication to ensuring the advancement of rights for transsexual people through judicial means in the UK, Europe, and around the world
  • 2005 | OBE for ‘services to Gender Issues’
  • 2006 |Virginia Prince Lifetime Achievement Award by the USA’s International Federation for Gender Education.

One Magazine

Staff at One magazine (1957-1958) from ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries

Founded 70 years ago on 15 November 1952, ONE, Inc. was one of the most prominent early American homophile groups, known as the publisher of ONE Magazine, the first widely distributed gay and lesbian publication in the country.

In the 1950s, LGBT+ people in the US still faced insurmountable legal and social barriers to communicating openly and building community. Despite the risk, organisations such as ONE, Inc., the Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis saw periodicals as a crucial means to organise members and celebrate LGBT+ life and culture.

ONE, Inc. launched the first issue of ONE Magazine in January 1953. The publication quickly took off as a hub for stories on homosexual love, poetry, book reviews, scholarly articles, and even artwork. However, this success was built not without challenges. The October 1954 issue of ONE Magazine was seized by the Los Angeles postmaster on charges of obscenity, catapulting ONE, Inc. into a 4-year-long legal battle that reached the Supreme Court.

The landmark 1958 ONE, Inc. v. Olesen ruling was the first to address free speech rights with regards to LGBT+ people, and laid the groundwork for the creation of a national network of activists and publications.

Don Slater, W Dorr Legg and Jim Kepner

We’re proud of the multigenerational work that our forebears did to pave the way for queer culture today.

Mattachine Society’s “Homosexuals Are Different” Advert

Founders of the Mattachine Society, the first major American gay-rights advocacy organisation, in 1951

The Mattachine Society advert, printed sixty years ago, bears the image of a zebra proudly wearing spots instead of stripes – and it shares a message still relevant today.

“Homosexuals are different … but … we believe they have the right to be,” the advert reads. “We believe that the civil rights and human dignity of homosexuals are as precious as those of any other citizen … we believe that the homosexual has the right to live, work and participate in a free society. Mattachine defends the rights of homosexuals and tries to create a climate of understanding and acceptance.”

The image comes from the New York Public Library, which has the original advert in its Manuscripts and Archives division. The library also displayed the advert as part of its “Love and Resistance: Stonewall at 50” exhibit in 2019.

The advert also marks the Mattachine Society’s definitive answer to the question of whether to assimilate, a question that activist Jim Kepner pondered in a 1954 issue of the magazine ONE.

“Are homosexuals in any important way different from other people?” Kepner wrote. “If so, ought that difference be cultivated, or hidden under a bushel, or extirpated altogether? … What can a Society accomplish if half of it feels its object is to convince the world we’re just like everyone else and the other half feels homosexuals are variants in the full sense of the term and have every right to be?” (For the record, Kepner was all for the differences. “Homosexuals are natural rebels, he wrote.”)

Magazine cover courtesy of ONE Archives Foundation

Uncle Donald

Uncle Donald

Donald Eckert (known as Uncle Donald) curated a website TheCastro.net about the emergence of the gay community in San Francisco’s Castro District in the 1970’s.

The aim was “to keep the history of the Castro Street experience alive, to preserve our memories, to help us all remember where we came from so that we can steer true north to where we are going, and to thank the greatest gay generation for paving the roads, opening the doors, and standing up when others did not.”

Here is one of Uncle Donald’s Presentations:

P is for PARADE

Publisher of Personal Page is Pleased to Present Pictures and Provide Pleasant Prose Pertinent to Previous Pride Parades.

Personally Present at Plenty Past Public Parties, Playing Photographer Pointing Pentax at:

Pushy Perverts Promenading in Provocative Pink Pedal Pushers,

Pumped Pansies Posing Positively Perfect Physiques,

Prominent Politicians Passing in Plush Polished Phaetons Promising Prosperity,

Portly Priests Posing as Private People Promoting Peace and Penitence,

Passionless Plebes Passing Pamphlets Promoting Progressive Programs,

Perky Pert Peachy Prostitutes Prancing Proudly,

Pleasantly Polite (Probably Paranoid) Police Providing Protection.

Possible Part of Popularity of Past Pride Parades:

Personal Presence Posed Potential to Prevail in Plan to Pick Physically Perfect Promiscuous Partner and Pursue Prurient Possibilities Playfully Probing Pleasant Pal’s Private Parts!

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