Ted Brown: the man who held a mass kiss-in and made history

Ted Brown: the man who held a mass kiss-in and made history

The Guardian

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After a tumultuous childhood, he helped organise the UK’s first Gay Pride in 1972 – going on to battle against homophobic media, in a lifetime devoted to change

On 1 July 1972 Ted Brown walked through central London, stopped at Trafalgar Square for a kiss – and made history. He was at the event he had helped to organise, the UK’s first official Gay Pride, in which more than 2,000 people marched through the capital before holding a mass kiss-in. Half a century later, his memories of the day are euphoric. “It was amazing,” he says. “I felt that we were continuing the legacy of the civil rights march.” That day he took photographs of buoyant butch lesbians and men in drag, crowding around the Trafalgar Square lions and fountains, draping them with banners and demanding liberation for all.

Organised by the UK branch of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), the London march followed the Stonewall riots and first Pride parade in the US. “The basic principle of the GLF was that one should come out to show people who we actually are,” says Brown. His work with the GLF, his efforts to improve the treatment and representation of LGBT people in the media, and his battle against abusive policing make him a key figure in both British civil rights history and LGBT history. He was one of the few Black faces in the first Pride march, and remembers it being composed of “mostly young people, mostly white, inevitably, and mostly hippies. It was only five years after 1967, the Summer of Love and the peak of the hippy movement.”

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