A quick history of UK Pride

By Adam Spawton-Rice

How we got from queer kisses being an arrestable offence, to thousands of LGBTQ+ people and their allies celebrating annually

Even if you’ve never attended a Pride march, you've likely have heard of Pride and Pride month. Whether it’s the 2014 film of the same name, or a Pride event local to you (they happen all over the country, and the world).

Find out more about Pride events in the UK

Pride is a global movement which fights for the liberation of all LGBTQ+ people.

Pride month is celebrated in most countries in June, with Pride events and marches happening before, during and after Pride month.

For hundreds of years, LGBTQ+ people have struggled with both legal and societal persecution. In some countries today, they face imprisonment and even death sentences.

The Pride movement starts

The first recorded Pride march happened a year to the date of the Stonewall riots in 1969. A response to police harassment at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street, in New York.

Two trans women, Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera and Stormé DeLarverie, a mixed race lesbian are famously associated with Stonewall.

A number of Gay Liberation Front (GLF) groups were created following Stonewall, in the US.

The UK Pride movement

After a visit to the states a London branch of the Gay Liberation Front was formed. It was this group that organised the first UK Pride event in 1972.

They held an event in Hyde Park, then marched with around two-thousand people, through central London. The march finished with a ‘kiss-in’ at Trafalgar Square, the same place that London Pride often ends today.

On his blog, LGBTQ+ activist Peter Tatchell recounts his experience of this early march as “imaginative, spikey, irreverent and defiant vision of what society could be.”

UK Pride today

In the 51 years since Pride first happened it’s changed quite a lot, as the LGBTQ+ communities have ‘opened up’ and expanded, so has Pride.

Some people might compare the changes in Pride to how British football went from its origins as a community sport, to what it is today - huge crowds and millions of pounds of sponsorship.

Just like there are lots of different events for Pride, there are also now multiple Pride movements which hold their own, separate events - like UK Black Pride, which started in 2005. Bi Pride which started in 1998. And Trans Pride (Brighton), first held in 2013.

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