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Marching at Gay Pride 1980


“My first contact with the Birmingham gay community was in 1980 when the organised a minibus trip to the Pride March in London. It was a great experience, my first Pride march, very different from today, the route went past Downing Street to the University Union in Malet St. The police were marching two deep either side of us, completely hemming us in from the public, there were maybe a total five thousand. It was memorable because there was some trouble and they arrested someone in a drag costume including a hat which had a machete amongst the flowers and fruit. There was some dispute whether the cleaver was real or plastic but certainly couldn’t be used being glued into the confection. However they arrested him for carrying an offensive weapon then arrested anyone who tried to tell the march that someone had been arrested. When we got to Mallett street they told us to disperse, the crowd got very ugly and we marched on Bow St. The individual, Julian Howes, was released and we carried on partying at the University of London Students Union. Julian Howes was a survivor from the group, which was involved with the Brixton Gay Liberation Collective who espoused the use of to break down gender and sexuality distinctions. He won a landmark case a few years later when he won the right to wear a skirt while working as a London Underground Guard.”

Contributed by: Lyn David Thomas, 47

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