1997 - GAY MENS HEALTH PROJECT 

Not so 'HEALTHY GAY CORNWALL'

 

1996: Lidbury was a founder member of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Health Authority Gay Men’s Health steering group and instrumental in creation of the Cornwall Gay Men’s Health Project in 1997. Now known as Healthy Gay Cornwall.

 

Following the 1996 Plymouth Conference on the ‘Health of the Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual Nation’ Lidbury wrote an HIV/AIDS report. The report entitled "Implication for Cornwall" in 1996 which eventually had a profound effect on improving HIV/AIDS treatment, care & prevention in Cornwall for ‘men who have sex with men’.

 

Lidbury’s report ‘Implications for Cornwall’ was sponsored by the National Gay Business Assoc. The C.A.R.A Trust, The Life Benefits Resource Foundation, Ivan Massow Associates, Gay West Lesbian & Gay Society, Body Positive Somerset, The Holistic Therapy Centre Plymouth, Cornwall AIDS Council, Truro City GU Clinic & The Sprocket HIV/AIDS Trust.

(Copy of the 1996 Cornwall LGBT report held by the Sprocket Trust LGBT archive)

 

Ashston Lady LGBT Social Evening run by Neil & Steve: Although Lidbury met regularly with St.Austell John, Lanner John & Penwith Jonathan ('The Three Amigos') primary members of ‘Magnet’, a gay men’s group in Cornwall negotiating gay/bi men’s health care with the Health Authority. Lidbury did not tow the line & was considered not a team player, a loose cannon by ‘Magnet’. Lidbury would act according to his conscience unilaterally on LGBT issues, including on behalf of lesbian health issues which some misogynistic gay men considerably disapproved of.

 

Peter Scott, a founder member of the ground breaking London based Gay Men Fighting AIDS GMFA at invitation came to Cornwall to give advice & guidance to Lidbury & the handful of gay men activist campaigners in Cornwall as to how to get inside Health Authority thinking.

1996: Lidbury attended as an independent delegate at Health Authority conferences in Plymouth & Salisbury, the latter which was attended by Health commissioners.  Lidbury asked some embarrassing questions quoting directly from figures in the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Health Authority AIDS Control Act report for Cornwall, a statutory document.

 

Lidbury subsequently personally received in writing from Stephen Dorrell, Secretary of State for Health 1995-97 confirmation of commitment for an increase in funding from £3,000 (0.5% of Cornwall £600,000 HIV/AIDS ring fenced budget) to £50,000 for a HIV preventative project for gay men in Cornwall.

 

Nov 1996: Lidbury took part in a live television studio debate at Westcountry Television Plymouth studios as invited guest speaker on a live broadcast on LGBT equality issues.  During airing of the live debate Lidbury received on behalf of two Spanish gay men an apology on West-country television from the English Tourist Board, West-Country & Cornish tourist board for homophobic prejudicial breaches of the British tourist board (ironically named) the ‘Pink’ book of rules.

 

Tim Teeman, journalist for the Times newspaper & former editor of the National LGBT Pink Paper newspaper (former circulation 50,000+ copies/wk) wrote of Lidbury in 1997 as:-

 

“Malcolm is more than just an effective campaigner. He is also an extremely brave and forthright one. He is the most public face of homosexuality in the region. This is a tough position for anyone to hold. Not only must he face the prejudice of narrow minded heterosexuals, he must also combat fear and ignorance on the part of gays in Cornwall, who would prefer certain matters to remain private and not discussed.” 

 

Tim Teeman Chronos Publishing Letter 1997:-

 

Mch 97: Lidbury met his then new partner Matt M at the Arts Club, Penzance.  The Arts Club held an LGBT night every Sunday evening over the next 10yrs.  The Arts Club was housed in the former Portugese Embassy building overlooking Mounts Bay.  With an open fire, classical interior & hung with some excellent local art, it had much of the feel one might expect of a more urban gentleman's club.  

 

May 97: West Briton 'Gay Posts Advertised'

 

Oct 1997: Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Health Authority took the attitude ALL gay men were potential criminals and put the Criminal Probation Service in charge of administering the Cornwall Gay Mens Health Project.

As a result this ostracized & excluded many informed gay men from the Cornwall gay health project, including Lidbury who resigned in disgust at treatment of all gay men as criminals by Cornwall Health Authority.

 

Oct 97: West Briton 'Safe sex project identity concern'  

Oct 97: National LGBT Pink Paper  'Cornish Men's Project Doubts'  

Nov 1997: West Briton 'Gay campaigners plan to stage cinema protest'  

 

Lidbury was subsequently barred from all access to gay health care via the Cornwall gay health project (Now Healthy Gay Cornwall). NB: That bar still remains the case in 2015

 

Dec 1998: Lidbury became local representative to Cornwall Falmouth/Camborne for the short lived STONEWALL Equality 2000 project on behalf of Stonewall

 

Packet Newspaper

Cornishman newspaper

 

Even before his partners HIV/AIDS diagnosis Lidbury had provided voluntary information/support work for LGBT persons & for persons infected/affected with HIV/AIDS in Cornwall. Following the death of his partner Andy the DWP Job Centre, Camborne insisted Lidbury report each fortnight exactly how much time he spent on voluntary assistance on both gay & HIV/AIDS issues. 

 

The Job Centre requested names & contact means of those persons who were HIV+ who Lidbury was assisting. Lidbury point blank refused to break HIV confidentiality.  His unemployment benefit was threatened with suspension by the Benefits Office at Camborne. Lidbury was compelled to give up providing voluntary support for LGBT person & persons living with HIV+ in Cornwall or lose his unemployment benefits.

 

ATTEMPTED SUICIDE:

Still raw from the death of his partner Andrew Smith & following further harassment from homophobic Cornish authorities & exclusion from Cornwall Gay Men’s Health project Lidbury attempted suicide.  He attempted a morphine overdose using his deceased partner’s former prescription medication.  Lidbury withdrew from all active contribution to gay equality and HIV/AIDS campaigning...for a while.

 

Next go to - 'Castration of Gay Men'

 

Go to INDEX

Gay Cornwall LGBT History
Gay Cornwall LGBT History

Interior of Arts Club, Penzance.

Featuring Papier-mache longcase clock created by gay artist Lidbury. Sunday LGBT nights were held here from 1997 - 2009