The Gay Liberation Front movement in the US quickly spread to the UK, with the London branch meeting for the first time in October 1970. The group was active, holding the first public demonstration in November 1970. The work soon spread and GLF’s were springing up across the UK.
In Bradford, the GLF was active in the early 1970s and was one of the most active in the country, campaigning and attending the 1975 Homosexual Equality Conference in Sheffield. There was also the active Gay Switchboard which ran throughout the 1980s providing a telephone support service for the community, and held ‘Bradford’s 2nd Gay Festival’ in June 1984. The General Will was a Lesbian and Gay theatre group active within Bradford that aimed to perform shows about contemporary political issues.
Today, the Equity Partnership and Equity Centre is a charity set up and delivered by LGBT people in Bradford and provides support, training and a central meeting space for groups. Free 2B-ME is a Facebook group set up as an online support tool for the LGBTQ+ community in Bradford.
The first major outdoor city centre Pride took place in Bradford in 2009. The first gathering in 2002 took place in Peel Park as a “small, mellow affair” but with the aim to say “We are here, its okay, come get involved, there’s nothing to be frightened of” (Paul Houldsworth – Co-organiser and host of Bradford Pride).
Since then gatherings have taken place annually and the event has evolved into a big celebration across the city.
In 2020, due to the covid-19 pandemic, prides across the world were cancelled. Instead, many were held virtually. In Bradford Rosie Freeman and May McQuade organised a virtual pride march during the lockdown. The march could be completely socially distanced and brought people across Bradford and beyond together virtually to mark Pride.Watch the Video
Find our more about Virtual Pride in our Peace and Pandemic Exhibition:See the Exhibit
Learn a Pride Song! Join Rosie from our team and learn the song Stonewall Nation by Madeline Davis.Learn the Song
“There's nothing to be afraid of”
— Paul Houldsworth, co-organiser and host of Bradford Pride
Bradford has a long-established gay scene in Bradford with inclusive safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community. The Sun Hotel in Bradford opened in the late 1980s and has remained as a community space and pub venue, featuring local drag artists. Candy and The Lemon Shed are LGBTQ+ friendly nightclubs. They have zero-tolerance policies to any homophobic or discriminatory behaviour.
“People often ask us if we’re a gay bar, which we didn’t set out to be but we do make a lot of effort to be a proactively friendly space. We put a lot of energy into reaching out to and programming people who experience marginalisation which obviously includes LGBTQIA communities as well as people with different skin colours, religious beliefs, genders, ages, mental and physical abilities. We do have specifically queer events and activities but they aren’t exclusive. It’s a core part of our philosophy that events bring people together so we get the chance to meet folks and experience new things in a safe environment.”
Director, The Brick Box
Safe spaces are incredibly important for LGBTQ+ people providing a place to relax and regroup from the hostilities they might feel in wider society. They also link back to the origins of pride and activism with the Stonewall Riots; Stonewall Inn should have been a safe space but was not because of the social and legal oppression at the time.
The Brick Box Rooms on Ivegate is now closed. The Brick Box continue their inclusive work across Bradford.