Tributes paid to gay rights campaigner Terry Sanderson

A TIRELESS campaigner for gay rights and disability support drew tributes from famous names after his death at the age of 75.

Maltby-born writer and journalist Terry Sanderson died peacefully at the home in London he shared with partner Keith Porteous on June 12 after suffering from cancer.

He had signed off his last Facebook post: “Goodbye a and try to be kind to each other.”

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Human rights activist and Stonewall founder Peter Tatchell said Terry had enjoyed an “extraordinary life” and been an inspiring LGBT+ advocate, while actor Ian McKellen tweeted: “Thirty-four years ago, when I was discovering the delights of coming out, Terry Sanderson’s journalism and books were an eye-opener always rational and indignant and good-humoured, effortlessly on the higher moral ground.”

Terry set up a mail order book service called Essentially Gay from his home in Maltby after homosexuality was decriminalised offering those who were isolated and unable to obtain information and support.

He imported books from the US, which were frequently impounded by homophobic customs officials on both sides of the Atlantic.

Keith said: “His talents as an incisive and provocative writer and journalist were put to so many uses in the service of gay rights and secularism.

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“Some of his books are shown here but over the decades he wrote many more, especially gay self-help books, which ran into numerous editions.

“Hardly a month went by without readers of these books thanking him movingly for having transformed their lives.”

Terry also played a leading role for nearly 25 years in developing the National Secular Society, and was its president for 11 years.

For more than 20 years, he wrote the monthly Mediawatch columns in Gay Times, which were later published as a book.

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Keith added: “There was another, delightful, side of Terry; he was popular, well-liked, and had a wide circle of friends.

“And he was humble; he never sought out praise or recognition.

“He loved music and was a devotee of Marlene Dietrich and had a wicked sense of humour.

“He wrote humorous books and even plays, and he was always searching for outstanding historic cinema clips \_ the best of each year’s crop were screened every Christmas in a popular benefit show for the Cinema Museum.”

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Keith said Terry had borne his illness “with characteristic fortitude and dignity”.

He added: “His loving family were entirely supportive of him as a gay man and, later, of us as partners.

“His rich and varied life was devoted to serving others and fighting injustice. “Almost his entire working life was spent helping adults with learning difficulties, or campaigning for gay rights and secularism, our dual passions.”

Terry (pictured) declared at the end of April on Facebook that he was placing himself “in the hands of the angels, i.e. the Macmillan nurses” and Keith praised Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie and paramedics for their “selfless care of the highest order”, as well as Meadow House Hospice in Ealing, west London.

He added: “Disclosing his terminal illness provoked a flood of touching tributes.

“Most people do not live to hear their eulogies, but he and I have drawn great comfort from them.”