Denis Lemon born 11 August 1945 (d. 1994)
Denis Lemon was a magazine proprietor, editor and journalist.
Born in Exmouth, Devon, he grew up in Herne Bay and Whitstable. He went to Simon Langton School in Canterbury.
He moved to London for a job in accountancy, and later worked in a record shop in south London. He founded Gay News - Britain's pioneering gay newspaper- in June 1972 with Andrew Lumsden. Within months he was the sole editor.
In 1977 he was the first person in Britain in fifty years to be convicted of blasphemy after Mary Whitehouse brought a private prosecution for the publication of the poem called The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name by James Kirkup. Denis Lemon was given a £500 fine and a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for eighteen months. Hearings at the Court of Appeal quashed the prison sentence (but the verdict stood. The poem is freely available via the Internet but has never been published in the UK since and until someone challenges it, the ban still stands.
For an insider account, Rictor Norton explains how, when he was a staffer on Gay News, he may have been responsible for Denis Lemon’s decision to publish the poem that led to the trial of him and his newspaper.
As a result of the world-wide publicity surrounding the trial Denis Lemon found himself as a public speaker.
Denis Lemon fell ill and sold Gay News in February, 1982. (It folded shortly afterwards.)
He briefly worked with Paul Oremland on Channel 4's One in Five, the first national lesbian and gay television series.
He became a restaurateur in London. He then moved to Exeter with his lover, Nick Purshouse, and opened a restaurant at the Arts Centre.
Denis Lemon died on 21 July 1994 after several years of AIDS-related illness.
In his obituary of Denis Lemon in The Pink Paper, 29th. July, 1994, Richard Smith said, 'The last year has seen the British gay press finally coming of age with a number of new titles. But none of these would have been possible if it were not for the groundwork done by people like Denis Lemon a quarter of a century ago.'
Picture below: Denis Lemon watches [on the left] as the Tom Robinson Band - who had that year released the anthem Sing If You're Glad To Be Be Gay - play at a Trafalgar Square protest at the prosecution of Gay News in 1978.
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