Top 20 Political Songs: Glad to Be Gay | Tom Robinson | 1978

Anthem of gay liberation

Written for a London Gay Pride parade in 1976, Tom Robinson's song has become a gay anthem for Britain. First performed by the British punk rock/New Wave group the Tom Robinson Band, it was sharply critical of British attitudes towards homosexuality.

Robinson, a former choirboy who became part of the London punk scene following a troubled childhood, was interested in the politics of gay liberation and inspired by the Sex Pistols. When he wrote "Don't try to kid us that if you're discreet/You're perfectly safe as you walk down the street", he was picking apart the hypocrisy of a society whose wider attitudes had yet to catch up with its own legislation.

Though homosexuality had been decriminalised in the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, the lyrics highlight violence against gay people and negative attitudes in the media -- in fact, BBC Radio 1 proved the point by refusing to broadcast "Glad to be Gay" on its Top 40 chart show.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ban provided a fillip for the song and, when Capital Radio chose to play it, "Glad to be Gay" remained at No 1 on the Listener's Hitline chart for six weeks.

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