Pride month: the story of LGBTQ + communities in Brighton Brighton News

WITH the largest LGBTQ + population outside of London, Brighton has over the decades gained a reputation as the ‘gay capital’ of the UK. To mark the end of Pride Month, The Argus takes a closer look at the history of the city’s LGBTQ + community.

Having started life as a fishing village, Brighton gained a reputation as a seaside resort from the 1730s after a fad for swimming in seawater. New growth followed when the Prince Regent – later the King George IV – began to spend his free time in the city.

The floating population of holidaymakers, along with good transport links to London and the number of soldiers stationed in the city during the Napoleonic Wars, attracted many LGBTQ + people. However, severe legal penalties existed at the time for homosexuality and some were the subject of violent attacks.

In May 1836, London lawyer Stanley Stokes was assaulted and slaughtered on East Street after making sexual representations with a groom at the New Ship Hotel.

On the other hand, in some cases, unmarried women could live together and be recognized as a couple without eliciting much comment.

British philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts would spend part of the year at the Royal Albion Hotel with her partner Hannah Brown and even send common Christmas cards.

When Hannah passed away, Angela said she had been “the sun of my life for 52 years”.

Brighton’s first LGBT venues open

Brighton’s reputation as a seaside getaway developed in the 1920s and 1930s, with LGBTQ + people viewing the city as a place to have a good time.

In 1929, a transgender man married a woman at St. Peter’s Church, but was later convicted of making a false statement on a marriage certificate and sentenced to nine months in prison. Meanwhile, pubs with LGBTQ + clientele began to flourish, particularly the now-closed Star of Brunswick.

The Argus: Brighton was bombed in WWII Brighton was bombed during WWII

When World War II broke out, the city was closed to visitors for fear of a German invasion, as the beach was covered with barbed wire.

However, for some LGBTQ + residents of Brighton, the city-based soldiers have sparked their interest.

Police, busy with other matters, often turned a blind eye to the rallies, but naval authorities were forced to ban the Brunswick Star after generating much interest from base cadets. training of Hove, HMS King Alfred.

Forces away from home who first met other LGBTQ + people also heard about Brighton and its reputation, and many came to visit and stay after the war was over.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s Brighton was the top destination for gay holidaymakers, with rumors spreading about guesthouses owned by gay men or ignoring cases of what was then an illegal activity.

Although several LGBTQ + friendly places existed in the city, police raids often dissuaded people from going there, especially since they often took the names and addresses of those present.

Those who took the risk would keep a pseudonym for such occasions to avoid the risk of being exposed and losing their jobs, homes and even family and friends.

Event and organization

The era of flower power in the late 1960s saw homosexuality decriminalized in the UK and a movement developed among young people to challenge homophobic attitudes and norms.

With the launch of Gay News, Britain’s first national gay newspaper, LGBTQ + places and organizations could let others know about their existence.

LGBTQ + organizations began to form in the early 1970s, with the Sussex Gay Liberation Front launched in February 1971 by a group of college students and LGBT residents.

The group held its first protest in October of the same year and a pride march in July 1973.

However, only a small group was ready to take to the streets and another pride march would not have taken place for many years.

The following years saw the launch of the Brighton Lesbian Group, the Brighton Gay Switchboard – then known as the Lavender Line – which provided a line of support for LGBT people, while also hosting the 1979 National Conference of the Campaign for homosexual equality.

As the 1970s progressed, LGBTQ + communities gained more attention in the press, but were often followed by backlash and protests.

In a 1976 documentary by regional station ITV, future Terrence Higgins Trust chief Tony Whitehead was filmed kissing his boyfriend in Brighton Station.

His employer, British Home Stores, fired him after the broadcast, prompting protests from local liberation groups outside the Churchill Square branch.

The outbreak of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s sparked panic in the LGBTQ + community in Brighton and around the world.

Local activists have taken action, fearing that existing services will be unable to cope with the crisis, with the Brighton Gay Switchboard publishing one of the country’s first leaflets to explain the facts of the disease.

A Sussex AIDS Helpline was established in 1985 and quickly expanded to train volunteers to set up a home care service for people living with AIDS.

The return of Brighton Pride

The introduction of Section 28 in 1988, which prohibited local councils from “promoting homosexuality,” sparked a new wave of LGBTQ + activism, with Brighton Area Action Against Section 28 (BAAAS28) holding a march each month of May from Hove Town Hall in Brighton. Town Hall to protest against the law.

In 1991, activists changed the focus of the protests to make them a celebration – marking the return of Brighton Pride after 18 years.

The Argus: Simon Dack's photograph of the Pride March in 1992 Simon Dack’s photograph of the Pride March in 1992

The event has become the main attraction it is today, both for residents and visitors. 1992 saw the launch of Pride in The Park, and the event first attracted major sponsorship in 1995.

LGBTQ + nightclubs began to gain traction in the city with the first sizable gay club, Revenge, launched in 1991, and the first full-time bar for lesbians opening in 2000.

Turn of the century

At the turn of the millennium Brighton Pride became a charity but, after suffering financial ruin, organizers controversially introduced an entrance fee to their annual park festival.

Since 2012, the event has raised nearly £ 1million for local LGBTQ + community groups and attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year, as well as some of the biggest musical groups including Kylie Minogue and Britney Spears .

As calls grew for greater equality for the transgender community, Brighton became the host of the first and largest Trans Pride outside the United States in 2013.

However, the success of LGBTQ + events and outlets in Brighton has been hampered by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced bars and clubs to close and cancel Brighton Pride two years in a row.

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This notice was published: 2021-06-30 15:56:31

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