(1967 - living) U.K.
Activist, painter, sculptor
Malcolm, a leading gay equality and HIV campaigner throughout the 90's, now becoming known for his homoerotic painting and sculpture.
Named as one of the top 200 gay people in Britain in 1995 (source: Gay Times May 95 issue No. 200) and voted by the readers of the Pink Paper in 1997 as being one of the 500 most influential people on gay life in Britain (source: Pink Paper 97), for a decade Malcolm Lidbury was a driving force for gay equality and HIV issues in Cornwall and the south west. Then about two years ago he virtually disappeared from gay life. The death of his partner, a suicide attempt and a victim of discrimination all being contributory factors, but now he's back on the up.
He had published and ran the ICT, a gay and lesbian publication for Cornwall (1992-95). In 1993 Lidbury organised in Cornwall,a gay rally in support of the campaign to equalize the age of consent, which featured in the C4 documentary 'Age of Dissent'. He has made numerous television studio appearances, taken part in documentaries and radio broadcasts, speaking in support of gay equality and HIV issues, and produced several gay guides to Cornwall.
In 1994 Malcolm then long term partner, Andrew, was diagnosed with AIDS. Malcolm won an ombudsman enquiry against Kerrier local authority for 'mal-administration with malice' against a gay AIDS sufferer. He publicly challenged prejudice and discrimination in Cornwall's institutional organisations, despite overt hostility from some Cornish gay men, who feared and opposed the raising of gay issues locally.
A founder member of Magnet, a sexual health initiative, also a trustee of the HIV related Sprocket Trust and a trustee of Cornwall AIDS council, He was an outside advisor on the proposed local health authority gay men's health project. He was local co-ordinator for Stonewall project 2000 Camborne & Falmouth constituency. The South West bodypositive contact for Cornwall and was an affiliated member to numerous national gay and HIV organizations.
Malcolm was the author of 'Implications for Cornwall', a widely circulated damning report, sponsored by Ivan Massow, The Sprocket Trust, Life Benefits Resource and others. It condemned the response of the Cornish authorities towards gay sexual health in Cornwall. Malcolm was also the G.U. Clinic voluntary gay men's support worker. He also ran a gay supper group, a weekend gay tea garden as well as a mid-week gay social group.
Malcolm and his then partner Andrew played a major role in the making of the Westcountry television documentary 'Days of Judgement' about attitudes towards HIV/AIDS sufferers in the south west. Malcolm was also facilitator to the Cornwall Young Gay Men's Group and he is an officiate for non religious gay commitment ceremonies and gay funerals.
He has been the invited guest speaker to talk on HIV and gay issues to a wide diversity of organisations including Cornwall Rural Community Council, students at Truro College, media students at Falmouth College of Art, Unison southwest regional LGB, Nursing students from Exeter Uni, and for members of the institute of chartered environmental health officers.
On behalf of two Spanish gay men, he took on a complaint against the English Tourist Assoc. the Westcountry Tourist Assoc. the Cornwall Tourist Assoc. and Falmouth Hoteliers Assoc. when one of their members breached the Tourist Association rules through breach of contract. He obtained a public, televised apology for the two Spanish men.
There seemed to be no end to Malcolm's willingness and commitment to HIV and combating discrimination towards gay people.
Christmas 1996, Andrew, his partner for seven and a half years, died as a result of AIDS, but Malcolm continued to spearhead gay equality and HIV issues in Cornwall. He won a formal apology from the County Council social services for their failure to provide statutory services to an AIDS sufferer. However, he still expresses his grave concern at continuing inherent homophobia within Cornwall County Council and Social Services in particular.
When a locally powerful multi-million pound business, Trago Mills placed in the company adverts for the castration of gay men, Malcolm took on the company, helped co-ordinate protests, galvanized media interest and won a landmark advertising standards authority complaint against Trago Mills.
However, his success as an independent gay equality campaigner was also his Achilles heel. Malcolm had been trying for years to get the local health authority to fund a preventative HIV project for Cornwall's gay men. The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Health Authority eventually agreed to fund a project, but appointed the Probation service to control the gay health project and budget in Cornwall.
Malcolm was banned by the Probation service from the Health Authority gay men's health project and in the process they also ostracized many other local gay men from accessing gay health resources. The effect of the GMHP ban was personally devastating upon Malcolm. He attempted suicide with morphine, which lead to long term hospital treatment for clinical depression. He became a victim of the Cornish authorities prejudice and discrimination which he had so long been fighting to eradicate.
"The ban and subsequent hate campaign by some of those involved Cornwall GMHP, so soon after my Andy's death sent me into deep depression, my GP put me on anti-depressants and referred me for hospital treatment. I felt I had wasted ten years of my life supporting HIV issues and gay equality in Cornwall. I lost all confidence in myself, the gay community, my entire life fell apart and my self esteem took a bloody hammering' said Malcolm
Following the suicide attempt, unemployed and deeply affected by the continuing hostility directed against him from within the 'probation service' Cornwall gay mens health project, Malcolm withdrew almost entirely from gay social contact, but despite the emotional beating he had received he did continue to provide voluntary care to a small number of HIV and other disabled gay people known to him personally.
In November 98, when taking one of his care clients to hospital for an operation, Malcolm met Rob, a twenty one year old student who had just left University. They arranged to met for Sunday lunch and it's been a l-o-n-g lunch.
'We spent the summer at Rob's family villa in Cyprus and with encouragement I began to rebuild and enjoy my life.' said Malcolm
Rob & Malcolm in Cyprus 1999
Whilst with Rob in Cyprus, Malcolm began to paint again. A self taught artist and sculptor, Malcolm had previously had successful solo exhibitions of his bronze male figurative sculptures and male nude paintings and has a small, but growing following of collectors of his work.
Today, Lidbury's art work is becoming international. Already with an established a place in British gay history for his gay equality and HIV work and now with the explosive growth of the internet and the ability to reach a more cosmopolitan audience world-wide, there will be greater interest and awareness of his highly collectable homoerotic art.
Lidbury's art has huge appeal to connoisseurs of the male form and reflects today's pride in contemporary gay men's lifestyle. Malcolm works from his studio at his home in a small former tin mining village in Cornwall.
(by Karl Peters)
'Early morning' Feb 2000
To see more of Lydbury's paintings, please go in the Lounge, to the Scrapbook Malcom Lydbury and his Boys