Lavender Menace

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“Indecent and obscene” – 40 years since Operation Tiger

April 25 @ 7:00 pm 8:00 pm

Newspaper clipping with the headline: Operation Tiger, Customs swoop on gay books.

40 years ago, customs officers launched “Operation Tiger”. They seized books destined for LGBTQ+ bookshops Gay’s the Word in London and Lavender Menace in Edinburgh.

Join us for an evening with Graham McKerrow, Sarah Pyke, and Sigrid Nielsen to discuss Operation Tiger, obscenity, and queer bookselling in the 1980s.

This event will be held online with panellists joining us from Edinburgh, Cambridge, and London. Please book a ticket and we will email you a link on the day of the event. 

About the panellists

Graham McKerrow is a journalist and political activist who edited leading gay and HIV/AIDS publications. He trained as a journalist on local newspapers and in 1980 he joined Gay News as a reporter and investigated police harassment and failings. The following year he co-founded and then co-edited Capital Gay. In response to Operation Tiger, he coordinated the Defend Gay’s the Word Campaign. In the 1990s, he edited the magazine Positive Nation for people with HIV/AIDS. He then spent 15 years at the Guardian, ultimately as editor of the Guardian and Observer Syndication Service.

Sigrid Nielsen is a graduate of St John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In Edinburgh in 1979 she joined Bob Orr in Open Gaze, the bookstall he ran at Edinburgh Gay Centre, and worked in other bookselling and publishing groups. She and Bob opened Lavender Menace, Scotland’s first Lesbian and Gay Community Bookshop, as a partnership in 1982. Sigrid managed author readings, mail order lists, and bookshop events. She co-edited In Other Words: Writing as a Feminist (Hutchinson Education, 1987) and published articles and short stories. In 2019, she and Bob revived Lavender Menace as an LGBT+ books archive and heritage organisation.

Dr Sarah Pyke is Munby Fellow in Bibliography 2023–2024 at Cambridge University Library and a Fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge. She has taught at London Rare Books School, Anglia Ruskin University, and the University of Roehampton and has held fellowships at the School of Advanced Study’s Institute of English Studies and Freie Universität Berlin. With Malcolm Noble, she has recently written on queer bibliography, and a co-edited special issue of The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America on this emerging sub-discipline will be published in June 2024. With Leila Kassir, Sarah co-curated the online exhibition Seized Books! LGBTQ+ books and censorship in 1980s Britain for Senate House Library, University of London.

Venue & Accessibility

The event will take place online over Zoom. If you have accessibility requirements, please email

Any other questions

Please email

Lavender Menace Queer Books Archive

Edinburgh Palette Room G25c 151 London Road
Edinburgh, Scotland EH7 6AE United Kingdom
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