Friday, August 12, 2016

40 Year Itch : Tom Robinson's Anthem

Tom Robinson Band : Glad to be Gay

On August 12, 1976 the openly gay Tom Robinson performed the song "Glad to Be Gay" at a London Gay Pride event.  Sounding like a Ray Davies sing-along, Robinson's song came at a time when police were raiding gay pubs and using the "sus" laws to harass people. (Davies had produced the 1975 debut album of Robinson's band, Cafe Society). 

"So with 'Glad To Be Gay' it was, right, fuck you," Robinson tells an interviewer on his website . "With the government falling apart, the NF and religious right on the rise, queerbashing on the increase and the police out of control in that hot summer of 1976 it just felt like there was no room for compromise any more."

Among the lyrics:

The British Police are the best in the world
 I don't believe one of these stories I've heard
 'Bout them raiding our pubs for no reason at all 
Lining the customers up by the wall 
Picking out people and knocking them down 
Resisting arrest as they're kicked on the ground 
Searching their houses and calling them queer 
I don't believe that sort of thing happens here 

Sing if you're glad to be gay 
Sing if you're happy that way 
Sing if you're glad to be gay 
Sing if you're happy that way...

 So sit back and watch as they close all our clubs 
Arrest us for meeting and raid all our pubs 
Make sure your boyfriend's at least 21 
So only your friends and your brothers get done 
Lie to your workmates, lie to your folks 
Put down the queens and tell anti-queer jokes 
Gay Lib's ridiculous, join their laughter 
'The buggers are legal now, what more are they after?'

Robinson says it was written as a one-off and he never expected to perform it again, but in February of 1978, "Glad to be Gay" was released on the Tom Robinson Band's Rising Free EP which went to UK #18. 

TR in 1976


  1. I remember the fuss when this came out. Nowadays it would pass without incident.We have come a long way in the last 40 years

  2. Yes CC we have, but in some ways in America not so much. The old guard *religious* right keeps trying to legislate their hate. Fortunately most of the young won't have any of it. Being gay is becoming as controversial as having green eyes. I remember buying the Tom Robinson Band album and playing Grey Cortina & Up Against the Wall but saving Glad To Be Gay when no one was around "cause, y'no someone might think..... Now I play it loud & proud. And I'm straight! Hahahahahahaha. Even though there's more acceptance the song continues to have the same defiance & impact. Great song. Needs a re-release. Thanks for the post!

  3. Glad to see some reaction to these posts starting up again. We're entering a glorious period in rock history. And I, too, have cranked "Glad to be Gay" in my car because I so enjoy the spirit of the song!