Brighton Pride: Pioneers recall early marches 50 years on

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Black and white photo of a gay Pride marchImage source, Andy Garth/Argus Photographic Archives
Image caption,
Previously-unseen photos of Brighton's first official gay Pride march in 1973 were unveiled at an exhibition last year

Gay rights pioneers have recalled the early days of the movement ahead of Brighton Pride returning this summer for the first time since the pandemic.

Organised by the Sussex Gay Liberation Front (SGLF), a march in 1972 saw a handful of people gather on Brighton seafront in East Sussex.

SGLF co-founder Mark Rowlands described walking publicly hand-in-hand with his boyfriend at the march as "exciting".

The city held its first official Pride event the following year.

Grammy award-winning US superstar Christina Aguilera and Brit Award-winning Paloma Faith headlining are set to headline this year's Brighton Pride.

This month marks Pride month, which is dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ communities worldwide.

Image caption,
Mark Rowlands co-founded the Sussex Gay Liberation Front and campaigned for gay rights in 1972

Speaking of the early demonstration in 1972 and ahead of the return of Brighton Pride, Mr Rowlands added: "We wanted people to see us and to know it.

"Up until then people used to say that gay men lived sad, miserable and lonely lives and we weren't. We wanted to prove otherwise."

Previously-unseen photographs of that first march in Brighton were shown at an exhibition in the city in August 2021.

Image caption,
Alf Le Flohic (L) said Pride and the Brighton Gay Switchboard have "stood the test of time"

Campaigners later set up a helpline for the Brighton gay community in 1975, which has since become an LGBTQ+ support service.

LGBTQ+ historian Alf Le Flohic said: "It was originally [called] the Lavender Line but it became Brighton Gay Switchboard and that was another way of contacting people, getting help.

"It stands the test of time that Pride and the switchboard are still going."

Brighton Pride 2022 takes place between 5 to 7 August.

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