As rather a lot of medals have been out this summer, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to reward some of our own heroes and heroines. They may not be sporting legends or record breakers, but they are certainly stars to the gay community. Over the last forty years since London’s first gay Pride event in 1972 they have certainly risen to the challenges, competed with the best of them and stormed the field in terms of gay visibility, rights and acceptance for us all.
Gold – Peter Tatchell
Over the last 48 years, Peter Tatchell has dedicated his life to fighting for human rights, frequently putting his own safety at risk in the process. With almost Terminator-like tenacity and dedication, he relentlessly fights for the causes he believes in, using high profile stunts to attract the necessary media coverage. He began fighting homophobia in the UK back in 1969, aged just 17, and since that time he has founded the influential gay rights group OutRage!, taken on Mugabe’s thugs, neo-Nazis at a Russian Gay Pride parade, “murder music” reggae artists and closeted Church of England bishops. He continues to fight for a number of vital causes including equal marriage rights in the UK and for human rights in countries like Iran.
For more information and to support his work, visit petertatchell.net
Silver – Stonewall
For their campaigning and lobbying successes including helping equalise the age of consent, lifting the ban on lesbians and gay men serving in the military, gay adoption, the repeal of Section 28, securing civil partnerships, the introduction of “goods and services” legislation and their current Education for All campaign.
Bronze – Bob Mellors and Aubrey Walter
The pair set up the 1970 Gay Liberation Front borrowing ideologies from a similar movement in the USA, based on revolutionary politics and alternative lifestyle. The GLF kick-started the gay rights movement in the UK, before splintering into several other successful organisations just a few years later.
Gold – Jason Pollock
World Pride is expected to attract in excess of a million people when it comes to London this summer, a fitting tribute to the legacy of the late Jason Pollock. Following a hugely successful TV production career, Jason was invited to become Festival Director of Mardi Gras, the commercial LGBT party held in Finsbury Park for four summers from 1999. In 2004 he founded the Pride London charity with a mandate from Ken Livingstone to produce a free festival. Often working as a one-man army, sharing an office with Peter Tatchell in the Swiss Centre in Leicester Square, he successfully reclaimed Pride as an event that was as much about politics and causes, as it was about visibility and celebration. He resigned after the triumph of the EuroPride event in 2006 and became chairman of Pride Life and a campaign director for the Big Lunch. Jason tragically died of a stroke in October of 2011, aged just 64.
Silver – Pride Organisers and Committees
A large number of Pride festivals have sprung up across the country over the last forty years and this award is for all of the unsung heroes, from volunteers to committee members and participants – just think what has been achieved over the years!
Bronze – Craig Rodwell
Following the Stonewall Riots in 1969, Craig Rodwell proposed that an annual gay rights demonstration be held in New York City. The first march took place on June 28 1970 and was a springboard for the hundreds of Gay Pride marches that now take place across the world every year.