The history of UK Pride "What we did was as much a revolution as the Russian Revolution, the Cuban Revolution or the American Revolution. It was political. It was about changing the world." -Andrew Lumsden, who was part of the Gay Liberation Front, the group that held the first ever gay rights demonstration in British history. Pride marches have been active for 50 years. It’s easy to take the event for granted, and forget the activism that grew into the fight for LGBTQ+ equality. Pride Month is as great of a time as ever to remember who got us here! 1970 - The first ever open, public gay rights demonstration in the UK was through Highbury Fields in North London, where about 150 men of the Gay Liberation Front marched against police harassment. 1971 - The Youth Group of the Gay Liberation Front led a demonstration opposing the age of consent inequality, where it was 21 for gay men but 16 for straight people. 1972 - The first official Pride march in the UK was in London on 1 July 1972. Its date was chosen to be as close as possible to the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York, which were protests against a violent police raid in New York in 1969, also known as the catalyst for the gay rights movement around the world. The first march in the UK was highly political and heavily policed. There was said to be a turnout of somewhere between 1000-2000 people. It was one of the first prides outside of the US, alongside Toronto, Canada. 1976 - The Pride march focus at this time was towards the discrimination of gay people in society, specifically in criminal law and employment. They wanted to call public attention to these inequalities. 1981 - The focus of pride was still discrimination, but this time police discrimination, following repeated raids of a gay night club, The Gemini, the most popular gay bar in Northern England. In 1981, the LGBTQ+ community showed solidarity when they chose to hold the UK’s main pride in Huddersfield, the home of The Gemini and where the police discrimination was taking place, also where many gay and bisexual men travelled to find community. 1983 - Pride was renamed from Gay Pride to Lesbian and Gay Pride. 1987 - The AIDS crisis was the focus of Pride as the pandemic spread, hitting gay men the hardest. The LGBTQ+ community came together to call attention to the HIV/AIDS pandemic as much of the world stayed silent or condemned people living with HIV/AIDS. 1988 - In 1988, Section 28 was brought into force under Margaret Thatcher’s administration, which banned the “promotion of homosexuality” and criminalised the discussion of gay issues in schools. This was a huge step backwards, and it sparked tons of activism from the LGBTQ+ community. On the day that it was introduced, over 20,000 people came together in Manchester to protest. On the day that it was enacted, a group of lesbians protested in the House of Lords. At Pride, there was a record turnout of about 40,000 people that marched together to protest Section 28’s repression of LGBTQ+ awareness and rights. 1991 - Northern Ireland held its first pride. 1996 - Pride was renamed Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride. In the 1990s, pride included a fair and large park gatherings, becoming a carnival as well as a political march. In 1996, Pride evolved even more to become the biggest music festival in Europe. 2004 - The annual pride events in London became managed by the charity Pride London, lasting until 2012. 2005 - The first UK Black Pride was held, which was essential for promoting LGBTQ+ rights and providing a space of belonging for people of colour. The event started small with around 350 attendees, but now has grown to the biggest pride in Europe for people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American and Middle Eastern descent. 2012 - World Pride was held in London, but it was significantly scaled back after funding issues, causing the organisation Pride London to withdraw from Pride events in London. 2013 - The Annual pride events in London were taken over by a different community interest company called London LGBT+ Community Pride, that are now called Pride in London. 2013 - The very first Trans Pride event in the UK took place in Brighton with an attendance of around 450 people. It was said to be a ground-breaking event for the transgender community, promoting inclusivity among all trans, intersex, and gender variant people. 2019 - London had its first Trans Pride march with an attendance of over 1,500 people. It was a place for people to truly be themselves, have a place of belonging, and march for trans rights, including concerns about healthcare, housing, media representation, deportation of trans people to unsafe countries, and better LGBTQ+ education. Today - It has been over 50 years since the first Pride in the UK. These 50+ years and many years before are marked by the fight and sacrifice of many, bringing us to where we are today. The Pride march in London is now one of the biggest in the world, attracting about 1.5 million people. There are over 130 prides across the UK that are also growing, some of which are happening for the first time, find yours here! We still have a way to go, but it’s important to remember how far we’ve come in just over 50 years, and what drove the early rallies and marches. Happy Pride!