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Sharley McLean
(May 26, 1923 - October 26, 2013) Germany - U.K.

Sharley McLean

Lesbian and feminist activist


Born Lotte Reyersbach in Oldenburg, Germany, Sharley fled Germany when 16, in 1939, because she had an uncle who was deported and killed in Sachsenhausen because he was a gay man.

She had been a nurse, an assistant in the wardrobe department of the Anglo-Polish Ballet (where her husband was a leading dancer), and had also appeared as an extra in the film Caesar and Cleopatra.

Sharley had joined the Clarence Higgins Trust in August 1985 after a close friend had died from an AIDS-related illness. At that time, she was also working at the national headquarters of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality which, like the Trust, was based in Panther House.

Sharley quickly got to know many of the clients personally, and subsequently assisted them from a wide range of other positions she held while working as a Trust volunteer. She later became been involved in the Women's Group, the Interfaith Group, the helpline and the information line, and at one stage also worked as a counsellor. In June 1997, she was still an active volunteer, helping out in the office once a week, despite being in her 74th year.

Sharley would hold regular meetings with Body Positive and Crusaid, other charities who also administered hardship funds, such as the Monument Trust, which was operated by the Cadbury family, to ensure that clients were not abusing the system by making multiple and fraudulent claims. Crusaid had been formed in 1986 as an organisation which raised funds by staging balls and theatrical galas, allowing London's high society to show its support for people living with HIV and AIDS. Body Positive had been formed in 1985, although it could not afford to offer grants to PWAs for a few years.

She died aged 90.


Sources: http://lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/ - et alii

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