Ordinary people share the objects that have helped define their lives since homosexuality was decriminalised, including naval discharge papers and even a pair of Ugg boots.
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This programme contains some scenes of a sexual nature
I think it shouldn't be allowed on the street.
I think it's disgusting, to be quite frank with you.
I think man ought to go with a woman and woman ought to go with a man.
Every so often, the world changes beyond our wildest dreams.
The past 50 years has been an incredible journey for lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender and queer people in Britain.
We've gone from being thrown in jail for loving someone for a single night...
..to walking down the aisle with that very same person.
In this series, ordinary people from across the country
have been digging out and sharing with us the mementos that mark this
transformation and have changed their lives.
This is my Navy-issue suitcase.
That's me at the front corner.
The result is a crowd-sourced collection of some of the rarest,
most personal, most heartbreaking and inspiring artefacts in our history.
They came in and said, get up, get dressed, get downstairs.
You're under arrest.
Together, they tell the story of an extraordinary 50 years.
For the first time in my life, I was, like, oh, my God, I'm home!
We knew right from our first kiss that we would always be together.
It's the story of all of us.
The people we loved and the people we sometimes hated.
It was a dangerous and frightening time,
but it taught you how to be alive.
It's the story of my life.
Tonight, we're in the era when pop culture moved the LGBTQ story
from the fringes into the mainstream.
That is George Michael's signature, and after that,
George gave me a kiss, so I'll never forget that night.
When a kiss, song or a concert gave hope to millions living in isolation.
I felt this extraordinary sense of connection with the community.
I don't care what you say, this is my life and this is the way I'm
going to lead it.
So, unfurl a Pride banner.
Wedge open that closet door.
And settle in for The People's History Of LGBTQ Britain.
One bag, here! Hello, mate.
# Never felt like this until I kissed ya... #
It started with a kiss in the most unlikely of places.
BBC One, 17th of November 1987, EastEnders.
And 14 million people were watching.
Now look, I don't want to get into an argument with you,
but promise me you'll take the day off and I'll ring you lunchtime, OK?
I won't know what the score is until I get there.
Is that it, I hear you say?
Blink and you'd miss it,
but in 1987, two men kissing on mainstream TV, this was big.
I watched it at home surrounded by my family and I was terrified they
might catch me enjoying the storyline.
Let's face it, they didn't know that I was gay and I certainly wasn't
going to give it away. In fact, this was the look on my face.
That is me pretending not to enjoy something, but inside,
I was doing cartwheels!
Are you trying to tell me that you and Colin are...
Sure. Didn't you know?
I'm sorry, Barry, but I'll have to give you your keys back.
While Dot might not have liked it, the EastEnders kiss was a small,
but hugely significant moment.
It exposed a divided Britain.
There were those who thought it was high time
real gay relationships were reflected on TV
and then there were those who thought, "no, thanks."
So far we've had over 20 calls from viewers who thought it was disgusting.
They include Mrs Margaret Palmer,
who says her children will not be allowed to watch it again,
Mrs Grace Bullock from Bamburgh, who thought it was absolutely disgusting,
Mandy Gumson from Liverpool didn't agree with it and
Robert Head thought it was repugnant.
At the same time Colin and Barry were kissing on EastEnders,
a storm was raging over a school book that showed a little girl
living with her dad and his gay lover.
DOOR BELL RINGS
Come in. I think I've got something to show you.
When Austin Allen heard about the scandal,
he was curious and went out and bought the infamous book.
30 years on, he still has his original copy.
This is Jenny Lives With Eric And Martin.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Then I'll begin.
It is Saturday.
Jenny opens her eyes.
She looks over to the curtains.
Yes, the sun is shining outside.
This schoolbook was an attempt to teach children
about gay and lesbian families.
But for large parts of the press and the Conservative government,
it was nothing short of a homosexual recruiting manual.
It was quickly dubbed "the sickest book in Britain".
Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are
being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay.
For Thatcher and her government, this was their evidence that we were
going too far and this was perfect to feed their homophobia.
The government saw this children's book as part of a worrying rise in
the visibility and acceptance of lesbian and gay lifestyles.
This was the atmosphere in which Austin started a teaching job in Bradford.
I'd been teaching there for a while and I suppose some of the older
children were curious and simply asked me if I was gay.
And I answered honestly and said, "Yes, that's right, I am gay."
The next day, a teacher came into the classroom and asked me to go to
the head teacher's office.
So I went down to his study and he basically sacked me.
He sacked me not, as he said, because I was gay,
but because the children and pupils had found out that I was gay and
therefore my credibility as a teacher had plummeted to zero,
which, of course, I knew it hadn't.
When I got home,
I rang a very good friend of mine to tell him what had happened to me.
He said, "I was about to ring you to ask you if you'd seen Newsnight
"last night because apparently there has been
"some new legislation introduced into Parliament."
The proposed legislation was known as Clause 28.
It was an attempt by the government to stop what they saw as the
promotion of homosexuality in schools,
but it didn't stop in the classroom.
The legislation also suggested that gay and lesbian relationships were unnatural.
It says that homosexuality really is unacceptable.
It actually makes homosexuals, lesbians and gay men second-rate citizens.
20 years after the historic change of 1967 when homosexuality was
decriminalised, this felt like a huge step backwards.
The fight against this new clause would become one of the defining
moments in LGBTQ history.
As a young gay man, I didn't really mix with lesbians.
In fact, in the '70s and '80s, some gay men were quite separatist,
even a little bit sexist.
But all that was about to change.
Clause 28 meant we forgot all about our disagreements with the menfolk,
as lesbians were up for a fight, too.
# Tell me why... #
-It was the biggest demonstration Manchester has seen.
The procession stretched for nearly two miles around the city streets.
On the 20th February 1988,
20,000 people from all over Britain travelled to Manchester to chant,
sing and knock out a tune.
Louise Carolin was just 21 when she travelled up from Cambridge and
she's kept a precious and personal memento from that historic day.
I've got a recording that I made with a friend on the demonstration
in Manchester and I haven't listened to it for 20 years.
This is the Bigot's Bootleg, which is what we named our recording.
What do we want? Equal rights! When do we want it? Now!
It really brings it all back.
It was really personal because, you know, that legislation was about
protecting the children and this idea that we
were somehow a threat to the children, it was so toxic, you know?
So although we were angry and although we felt threatened,
Section 28 actually brought the community together and, you know,
kind of galvanised people.
At the time of the march, Louise was working for Shocking Pink,
the first magazine made by and for young women to offer readers
positive images of lesbian lives.
We made the tape because we wanted to do an article in the magazine.
Shall I show you?
So this is Shocking Pink, the one that had the article in,
and I think the cover gives quite a good idea of what it's like inside.
For this issue, we did this thing, because we used to sell it on
marches like this. Shocking Pink, Shocking Pink,
and if people kind of sneered and said, "No, no, I don't think so,"
we'd spin it over and go, bride?
And sometimes we got sales from that.
That's the spread that we created.
We've just transcribed some of the interviews from the march.
Ah, now, look, there's lovely Sue Johnson who played Sheila Grant
on Brookside and she gave a really impassioned speech.
When I first heard about Clause 28,
I thought about Hitler's burning of the books.
We've got the crowd response with roars of,
"Sheila! Sheila! Sheila!"
-Sheila! Sheila! Sheila!"
We were so hungry for affirmation, for people to say, you know, this is wrong.
Geoff and Peter travelled up from Shrewsbury to join the thousands
protesting in Manchester.
So, let's have a look upstairs, cos this is where all the gubbins is.
Up here in the attic is a room full of memories.
This is a short-lived organisation called
Organisation For Lesbian And Gay Action and this banner,
Shropshire Olga, was made the night before the march.
Not terribly brilliantly, but it is eye-catching.
Geoff and Peter marched that day because Clause 28 said lesbian or
gay families were just pretend ones, they weren't real.
Only the heterosexual family was normal.
Yeah, well our son Liam was born in 1988, so we were looking ahead to,
you know, this is going to be law.
We've brought a child into this world who is going to be part of a
pretended family, as far as the government's concerned.
What's that going to do for him?
MUSIC: Never Tear Us Apart by INXS
I do love the of the reflection of the water.
-It is nice, isn't it?
It's heart-wrenching to think that somebody might see you as lesser
or different because of who your parents are.
My family's special.
You couldn't tell me my family isn't a real family, you know what I mean?
The love, the guidance, the everything,
everything that should be there is there and yeah,
I wouldn't trade that for anything.
Opposition to the clause wasn't just coming from within the gay community.
High-profile members of the public started to join the fight.
Artists and celebrities who feared the legislation would gag their
freedom of expression.
If the wrong people use Clause 28,
as they can use it, to victimise homosexuals,
to stop certain plays being performed, to stop certain films
being shown, then it means yet another loss of liberty.
The funny thing about this period was that some of my heroes started
to openly reveal themselves.
Stephen Fry, Sir Ian McKellen, Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys.
Actors, pop stars, comedians.
These people are not afraid to stand up and say,
"You know what? We know who we are. We're not second-class citizens.
"We've got nothing to be ashamed of."
And do you know what? They did something about it.
So for someone like me, growing up in isolation at home and amongst my
friends, it was a revelation and a lifeline.
MUSIC: West End Girls By Pet Shop Boys
And on one magical night in 1988, here at the Piccadilly Theatre,
the greatest British stars of a generation gathered for an evening
of entertainment, celebrating lesbian and gay culture.
I've been doing my washing today.
I haven't got a stitch on, except my shoes.
I'm all in the rude under this dress.
Working backstage was a 26-year-old Ian Elmslie.
Ian, what important memorabilia have you brought to show us today?
I've brought along a programme for Before The Act,
which was presented in this absolutely magnificent theatre.
Packed to the rafters, unfilmed.
If you weren't here, you missed it.
And every piece of work presented in the evening had been written by a
-gay man or lesbian.
Everything. Every single piece of work, every piece of music, every
song, every extract from a play.
But not necessarily the performers?
No, no, no, we let the straights in.
We had Vanessa Redgrave there, Judi Dench.
Pinter was there. Sheila Hancock was there,
which was a huge thrill for me.
Gary Oldman was there, and this is an autograph from
Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, better known as the Pet Shop Boys.
This was the first time that they'd ever played live in front of an
audience, but because all the material for the evening was written
by a gay man or lesbian, the fact that they did one of their own
songs, It Couldn't Happen Here, informed the audience watching that
this was written by a gay man.
So you just go, "Oh, right, OK."
Welcome to the club. We always knew you had it in you.
MUSIC: It Couldn't Happen Here by Pet Shop Boys
Alan Bennett came out that evening.
Stephen Fry came out that evening.
That's quite powerful, isn't it?
-It just reminded you that you're not alone.
You've got this huge army of talent and support, and a voice.
And to see people that you admire, you admire their work,
who now actually come out of their comfort zone in a way.
-You could not witness an evening like this and not be
empowered by what you had seen.
# Get up out of your rocking chair, grandma... #
Despite all this opposition,
the government was determined to press on with Section 28,
but on the 23rd of May 1988, the night before it became law,
there was one last memorable protest.
Good evening. The headlines at six o'clock.
-In the House of Lords...
-Stop Section 28!
-..a vote is taking place now on a challenge to the poll tax.
-Stop Section 28!
Tory rebels had said the tax is unfair and unpopular.
And I do apologise if you're hearing quite a lot of noise in this studio
at the moment. I'm afraid that we have rather been invaded by some people.
Lovely. Thanks very much.
We're protesting about rights for lesbian and gay people.
As if us lesbians haven't suffered enough.
Being sat on by Nicholas Witchell?!
I was at school when Section 28 became law.
It was quite a traditional Scottish school.
We didn't talk about emotions, never mind whether you were gay or not,
but inside I was seething.
I wasn't the only one.
It was a shock to the entire lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer community.
All those protests had been in vain,
but as we moved into the 1990s,
there was a rethink by campaigners on how to fight for equality.
On the one hand, you had Stonewall,
a pressure group formed to politely meet and lobby those in power.
Diplomacy was its driving force.
There is a shift somewhere in Downing Street and I suspect
it's coming from the top.
And then you had those who took a more unorthodox approach.
They didn't want to meet politicians, didn't want to shake hands.
Far less saintly, they favoured flamboyant stunts.
I am Sister Frigidity of the Nocturnal Emission.
Sis Fridge for short.
In the bag is my nun's habit and all sorts of paraphernalia from my time
as a Sister Of Perpetual Indulgence and a member of Outrage.
Outrage was like Stonewall's badly behaved sister.
A grassroots movement formed of gay men and lesbians, it revelled in the
art of the spectacle.
A bit of fancy dress, add some camp and mix with street theatre.
Peter Tatchell was one of the group's co-founders and most
We were two sides of Outrage, one was the positive aspect of
bringing a little excitement and enjoyment into people's life and the
other one was to challenge the homophobia which
was rife in the 1990s.
I've got a dirty habit...
The habit allowed us to be very public about our sexuality.
You can't ignore a series of gay men in nun's habits walking down the street.
One of the things that I brought along was our Sis List,
which is a list of all the sisters,
so we've got Sister Ejaculata of the Imminent Spattering,
Sister Moses of the Parting Cheeks, Sister Ophelia Balls.
Is that enough for the moment?
# Sex, sex, sex, sex crime... #
Outrage were referred to as homosexual terrorists.
It was about going to where we saw the problem being
and making a noise about it, so we would go to police stations
and hand ourselves in as sex criminals.
MUSIC: Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four) By Eurhythmics
We were poking fun at the establishment, whatever it was,
because it was out of step with the time.
It's good looking back and thinking,
we were there and we did do something, we weren't quiet,
we were who we were.
I miss it. There were a lot of people that I miss
that have passed on
and it was an exciting time, it was a dangerous and frightening time,
but it taught you how to be alive.
In the '90s, you didn't have to wear a habit and call yourself
Sister Frigidity to upset the law.
Just being gay and having a night out could do the trick.
In fact, more gay men were arrested in 1990 then in 1966,
when homosexuality was still illegal.
A gay man can be arrested for importuning -
that is asking another man to go to bed with him, even if it is clear
that the other man wants to.
But while the law was still failing to come to terms with the times,
a vibrant and confident queer scene was blossoming.
And in 1991, a new type of gay bar opened in Soho.
It was called The Village and I used to drink there regularly.
This was one of the first places that had clear glass windows where
you could see in and outside.
"So?" I hear you cry. "That's how glass works."
Well, it was symbolic.
It meant you were no longer ashamed having to go to a bar
with darkened windows down a small alleyway.
It was very, very important. It meant we were going places.
There were also new gay clubs springing up all over the country
with alluring names like Joy, Flesh, and Love Muscle.
But there was one venue that came alive in the dead of night when
everything else was closing, that would go on to achieve legendary status.
It was called Trade,
and everyone was welcome, regardless of their sexuality,
social background or gender.
So, my flat is little bit like a nightclub, it's very psychedelic,
very colourful, it's quite kitsch, quite camp, a bit like me.
Bright Daffodil's piece of memorabilia isn't under her bed or
in the attic of her home. It IS her home.
Inspired by the club that changed her life.
So the bathroom in Turnmills, at Trade, was all this mosaic tiling
which I've mimicked in my own bathroom.
I've got my little Trade bathroom here and there's a kind of pop art
theme to the wallpaper, as well.
I've got funny lights flashing on so I can have, like, a disco bath.
MUSIC: Nightclubbing by Grace Jones
I grew up in Dudley, in the West Midlands.
There was absolutely no gay scene in Dudley whatsoever, I mean,
you would kind of get, like, beaten up for being remotely feminine.
And then one night, this big muscly knight in shining armour showed up
from London and he had a thing for pretty boys and he asked me
if I wanted to go to Trade when I finished work at six in the morning.
My God, that night changed my life.
Advertised as "the original all-night bender",
Trade was the first legal club in the UK to open all night long.
It launched the career of DJ Tony De Vit,
the godfather of hard house.
I mean, it was packed and I can just see this sea of the most beautiful
people that I'd ever seen in my life and these were gay men but they
weren't the kind of gay men that I'd ever seen,
they were all like very macho, very brute, and I can hear this
boom-pam, boom-pam, boom-pam...
And everybody's kind of like rocking with the music
and it's kind of like... It's a vibration, you know?
For the first time in my life I was like, "Oh, my God, I'm home."
You know, I used to get spat on in the street where I come from,
soup thrown over me, beaten up, I've had knives pulled on me,
guns pulled on me, and you know in Trade, I was treated like a human being,
I was treated with respect and I was celebrated for my queerness, you know.
And that means a lot to somebody who's come from darkness,
it was light, pure light.
MUSIC: Army Dreamers by Kate Bush
Trade was a place where we were encouraged to be open about our sexuality.
But, above ground in 1990s Britain, there were still many places where
that certainly wasn't the case.
The most antiquated of them all was Britain's armed services.
They were exempt from the 1967
Decriminalisation Of Homosexuality Act
which meant that up to the year 2000, you could still be arrested
and court-martialed for being lesbian or gay.
Homosexuality and its practices are simply not compatible with service
life in the British Armed Forces.
Oh, God, this is too heavy.
I really shouldn't have put so much stuff in here.
Emma Riley has a treasure trove of memories from a life at sea.
This is my Navy-issue suitcase.
I don't think I've looked at this from more than, oh, I don't know,
18 and 20 years.
These are my service records.
Women's Royal Naval Service Certificate Of Service.
They thought I was five foot six which is not true,
I'm five foot seven.
Date of entry, 30th of July 1990.
I very, very distinctly remember the day that I signed the contract and
it's got all sorts of clauses on it but I read the one that was saying,
basically, homosexuality is incompatible with service life and I
read that quite a lot of times before I signed it,
but at the time I really felt that this is what I want to do,
this is what I believe I will be good at.
So I signed it and I got drafted to HMS Cornwall.
I was working in the com centre, the communication centre,
as a radio operator.
And we were the first batch of women to be on HMS Cornwall.
I very much enjoyed the work and I was good at it.
That's me at the front corner.
So, this is my parents. They were very proud.
For three years, Emma enjoyed Navy life.
She was class leader, and earmarked as officer potential.
Then a colleague told the Royal Navy police about Emma's sexuality.
One morning, at six o'clock, when I was asleep,
there was a knock on the door, and they basically came in and said,
"Get up, get dressed, get downstairs, you're under arrest."
And then they stood me outside, and said,
"We're going to search all of your belongings."
So they went through all my stuff, they confiscated letters,
they confiscated the Suede album, the original one,
which I eventually found out has two women kissing on the front.
A Julian Clary video, because, of course,
if you have a Julian Clary video, you must be gay.
And that's where they discharged me.
26th of November 1993.
So I had to go back home and tell my parents not only that I was being
thrown out of the Navy, I also had to come out to them,
because I hadn't actually said I was gay.
I was so terrified of how they were going to feel about it,
how disappointed they would be.
I'm extremely lucky, because they...
Excuse me. They were brilliant.
They were lovely. They were totally supportive of me,
and have been ever since and ever will be.
I am very lucky to have the parents that I have.
They said, "Don't worry, we love you."
MUSIC: To The End By Blur
Emma was one of hundreds kicked out of the Armed Forces every year
in the 1990s for being gay or lesbian.
The Army alone discharged 298 people in 1999 because of their sexuality.
# Well, you and I... #
But while our outdated institutions were looking to the past,
once again it was a bit of TV pop culture that in 1994
was showing the reality of life.
# Looks like we've made it to the end... #
I'm going to tell you about the most exciting night of my life.
I was in my bleak student flat in Glasgow,
I was on my own in the kitchen.
On the table there was a tiny television.
I can't tell you how exciting that still is to see.
It really is the most important moment in television in my entire life.
It was two attractive young women,
they were falling in love with each other.
They were best friends, there was unrequited love,
and then it came to fruition.
It gave hope to lesbians all around the country when Beth and Margaret first kissed.
It was truly exhilarating.
I remember sitting on my own thinking, maybe that could happen to me.
Maybe I can find love with somebody.
It still gives me chills to watch that.
All I can say is, "Thank you, Brookside."
MUSIC: Expectations by Belle and Sebastian
# Monday morning wake up knowing that you've got to go to school... #
Do you know, the funny thing about that incredible lesbian episode of Brookside
is that it was written by a guy called Shaun.
And he's in this cafe right here.
I don't know if you know this, but you're responsible for probably the
most exciting night of my entire life.
-I'm not aware of it.
-And I don't suppose you had any idea at the time
it would be so amazing.
I think that's incredible, and that's what we wanted to do.
I know, for myself, when I was a teenager, growing up,
there weren't those role models.
I didn't have those moments.
There was nothing on screen that made me actually think,
"Do you know what? Maybe it is OK to be gay.
"Maybe being gay isn't a bad thing."
So, you know, the fact that it had such a positive impact on a lot of
young people at the time, is, you know, job well done.
In fact, as we're talking about that, I did bring some photographs.
This is post-lesbian kiss.
-There's me with Anna Friel.
-That's you with Anna Friel!
I wish I'd been at that party.
After that, everyone wanted to go out with someone who looked like Anna Friel.
And if you didn't look like Anna Friel, which,
I'll be honest with you, I didn't look like Anna Friel,
it meant you were abandoned.
I feel quite bad about that.
Shaun grew up in Liverpool, on the Norris estate.
I kind of had my whole childhood stolen off me, really.
People saying, you know, "You're gay, queer," this and that,
and then physically beating you, spitting at you.
You know, gangs of people beating you up,
and telling you that is a disgusting, horrible thing.
Late at night, when my younger sister would be two,
three years old, asleep in bed, and there would just be bricks
coming through the window.
MUSIC: Rubber Ring By The Smiths
At the age of 16, Shaun discovered salvation through a modern-day
Getting into the Smiths, Morrissey's lyrics, it's almost like this person
you've never met is singing about your life.
Instantly, you feel less lonely.
I decided to write a play based on one of their songs.
# The rain falls hard on a humdrum town
# This town has dragged you down... #
I took the song, William, It Was Really Nothing,
invented characters around the lyrics, and wrote this short play.
And then it was shortlisted, eventually,
it was put on at the Royal Court in London.
Morrissey got to hear about it,
and a letter dropped on the doormat in my old house,
83 Branthwaite Crescent, Norris Green.
-Oh, my word!
You are a star, William is just the beginning,
and I'll see you at the Royal Court.
Your friend, Morrissey.
# Would you like to marry me?
# And if you like you can buy the ring
# She doesn't care about anything... #
That was actually just the beginning of a friendship,
and getting to know him.
Have you got any photographs at all, of you and Morrissey?
Yeah, I've brought a couple.
This was my idol, my icon. This is the person who gave me hope,
who inspired me to write, who made me feel less alone where I lived,
just through the sheer power of his music.
To me, it didn't really matter what anybody else thought.
Morrissey liked what I wrote, that was the main thing.
As lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people, that's LGBTQ,
moved from the margins to the mainstream, so did their wallets.
In the mid-90s, the phrase "the pink pound" was used to
describe our spending power, worth £6 billion to the economy every year.
MUSIC: Give A Little Respect by Erasure
There were lifestyle magazines, bespoke clothing ranges,
even the first out and proud gay doll.
And politics was finally catching up too.
Stephen, Labour Party, 20,500...
Stephen Twigg was the first openly gay man to be elected.
He swept into Parliament in 1997 as part of the new Labour government.
The party had actively championed LGBTQ rights
and pledged to repeal the hated Section 28.
There was a feeling of hope which culminated on July the 5th 1997
when a quarter of a million people gathered here on Clapham Common.
Mike Atkinson was one of them and he has a cherished memento from that day.
I found this last night, late last night.
I suddenly remembered I owned this precious,
historically important garment.
This is one of the official Pride '97 T-shirts.
Designed to be worn tucked in, I feel.
MUSIC: Disco 2000 By Pulp
Pride festivals had been going since the 1970s when they were political
demonstrations, with a few hundred brave souls bearing home-made banners.
But by 1997, it had changed beyond all recognition.
# Our mothers said we could be sister and brother
# Your name is Deborah, Deborah... #
I think people forget how much optimism was in the air 20 years ago.
One of the things you always experienced on Pride days
is when you were travelling on the tube to the festival site,
and the nearer you got to the tube station,
the gayer the tube train became.
And it felt like the whole world had gone gay.
That's the one day in the year when you were in the majority.
And that was always a lovely feeling.
We were quite near the front, slightly to the right of the main stage.
So it would've been over there.
The first act I definitely remember seeing on stage was none other than Gina G.
Performing Ooh, Ah, Just A Little Bit.
Come on, you hussies!
Let's get the show on the road!
One of the defining gay anthems of the era.
# Just a little bit
# You know what I'm looking for
# Ooh aah, just a little bit
# Ooh aah, little bit more
# Ooh aah, just a little bit... #
So we all bopped around to Gina.
Next on were the Pet Shop Boys.
It turns out, on a Gay Pride Day,
the lyrics of Go West take on a different twist.
# We will go our way
# We will leave someday
# Your hand in my hands
# We will make our plans... #
It's a song of hope, hope for freedom.
And a sense of optimism, that we're nearly there.
We're on the verge of stepping into the promised land.
That was moving. And the tear ducts started to prick.
Also performing was Holly Johnson, from Frankie Goes To Hollywood,
with the Power Of Love.
# The power of love
# A force from above
# Cleaning my soul... #
And, again, something strange happened.
About halfway through the song,
down at the south side of the park, fireworks started to go off.
I turned my back on the main stage, looked behind me,
and everywhere, it was the strangest thing,
everywhere they were people embracing, and kissing, and hugging.
# Cleaning my soul
# Flame on burn desire... #
And I felt at this extraordinary sense of connection with the whole event,
and with the community.
At that point, the tears really did start to flow.
It was a really memorable end to what I think was a significant Pride.
Thank you. You've been fabulous.
Even though lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender and queer life was more accepted than ever,
the decision to come out was still very personal,
and could be a very difficult experience.
Especially if you were one of the biggest stars in the world.
-George Michael was arrested at a park last month
in Beverly Hills, where, in the public toilets, police say,
they caught him engaging in a lewd act.
And for the teenage Simon Johnson,
the coming out of George Michael led to a special keepsake.
This is my ticket to the 1999 Stonewall equality show.
And the signature is upside down,
but if I turn it the other way around,
that is George Michael's signature.
And after that, they were cameras all around us,
and they were shouting at him to give me a kiss.
And so George Michael gave me a kiss, so, I'll never forget that night!
MUSIC: Let's Go Outside by George Michael
The next day, my dad came home with the Sun newspaper,
and on the front page, the Sun had covered the same concert that I'd
been at the night before.
My dad said to me, "Have you been to gay concerts?"
And I said to him, "No, I've been to a concert, yes."
And he said to me, "Are you gay?"
And I said, "No."
And I thought, why have you said that?
And so he asked me again, he said, "Are you gay?"
And I went, "Yes." It just came out.
And then he started shouting for my mother.
My mother comes upstairs, and he said to my mum,
"Have you heard what your son's got to say?
And she just said, "I know what he's going to say. I've known all this time."
For a young gay teenager living and going to school in a small village
in North Lincolnshire was difficult.
Bullied and considered uncool, until one night, when a ground-breaking
bit of television completely reinvented his image.
I was about 17 when the first episode aired
and I made sure that I was home for it.
It was worth it. Totally worth it.
It just felt like it was opening up a completely different world.
Something I hadn't seen before.
Queer As Folk was different because it was the first programme to put
gay life centre stage.
It was funny and naughty.
What do you like doing in bed?
I think one of the best bits was going into school the next day,
and my girlfriends had watched it as well, and I guess, I hate to say it,
but a bit of cool factor, because they knew that I was gay,
and they were really intrigued and interested about being, you know,
me, and being gay. So I felt, finally, acceptance.
But, within months of Queer As Folk airing,
there was a brutal reminder that, for some people,
gay life was still unacceptable.
On the 30th of April 1999, three people were killed
and more than 70 injured when a neo-Nazi planted a nail bomb in the
Admiral Duncan pub in London's Soho.
It was the biggest homophobic attack in British history.
It was a sign that for all the progress made,
violent hate crime is never far away for our community.
Something I'm all too well aware of.
This is Jody's name badge.
He was one of the show managers here at Jongleurs.
He was a very fine young man.
We became good friends.
One night, in 2005, on his way home, he was physically kicked,
assaulted, and beaten to death in a homophobic attack.
Now, that really, really made me angry.
Living in London, a cosmopolitan city, you think, wow, tolerance,
acceptance, yet, there are people out there who are prepared to attack
a complete stranger to the point of death because you don't understand,
agree, accept who they are.
I was given this badge by Jody's family.
Serving as a constant reminder that, yes, homophobia still exists.
The paradox about these attacks is that they were happening just as we
were starting to enjoy equal rights.
Years of lobbying, marching,
and wearing fancy dress were finally paying off
as the Labour Party started to push through historic changes.
In 2000, nearly 35 years after homosexuality was decriminalised,
the age of consent was brought into line with the heterosexual one of 16.
The armed services ban was overturned...
..and Section 28, for which no-one was ever prosecuted,
was repealed in Scotland.
Westminster followed suit three years later.
And then, in 2005, we saw something that marked a transformation
in the battle for equality.
It's something that most people could never have imagined in their lifetime.
Two words. Short and simple. But so very symbolic.
And those two words...
MUSIC: At Last by Ella Fitzgerald
It was called the Civil Partnership Act,
and it allowed couples of the same sex to have legal recognition of
their relationship, similar to a marriage.
My wife and I tied the knot as soon as we could,
and so did Susan and Gerrie.
Thank you, every single one of you for being here.
For our 20 years together!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
We knew right from the beginning of our relationship,
from our first kiss, that we would always be together.
Why was it important to you personally, to do this?
We had already made our vows to each other about ten years before that,
on a little boat in Perthshire.
But for us, to make that public statement,
with all our friends and family, around about us, just was very,
Everybody that was there, probably with the exception of my parents,
-were happy for us.
-That's so true!
I had to strategically place Gerrie so I couldn't see my mother's face,
which was a bit like fizz at the time!
There has to be someone at a lesbian wedding who's unhappy.
There has to be someone.
For many, civil ceremonies were an important and historic first step.
But not quite full marriage.
That would have to wait until 2014,
introduced by the then Prime Minister David Cameron,
who said it was one of his proudest achievements.
When it became law that you could get married,
did you get married as well?
We absolutely did!
Very much so.
We were the first women in Scotland to exchange those immortal,
legal vows of equal marriage.
Nicola Sturgeon was our witness.
We never expected that we would be able to have either a civil
partnership or a marriage.
But those two changes to have come within a decade, it's just amazing.
Same-sex marriage sent a powerful message of equality.
It didn't matter any longer whether you were straight or gay.
MUSIC: Ces Bottes Sont Faites Pour Marcher by Eileen
But for one section of our community,
the road to acceptance has been slower.
In Britain today, there are thought to be around 650,000 people who feel
a different gender to the one they were born into.
We're in complete limbo, we're neither male nor female.
The law says we're male, but physically, we're female.
Trans people finally got legal status in 2004.
But, as with everything in life, it's the small things that matter.
For Jennifer Black, it was the purchase of an item
she'd secretly coveted for years as a man.
Today, I've come down with my Ugg boots.
I bought them here in Covent Garden, four years ago today.
It was the day I transitioned,
and these were the first item of clothing that I bought.
I'd always wanted a pair.
My friend Tina said they're like wearing little clouds on your feet,
in heaven. And that just summed them up for me.
They're so beautiful. These boots mean so much to me.
It was the start of a new life. It was a whole new chapter for me.
And I'll never part with these boots, no matter how ragged they get!
I knew I was different from other children from a very, very early age.
I just didn't understand why.
It was around the 14 mark, when I said to my dad, you know,
I don't feel right.
I don't understand. I feel like I shouldn't be a boy.
My dad arranged to take me to the local doctor,
and the doctor explained to me that this was just a phase I was going
through, and I would grow out of it.
Part of you wants to believe it is just a phase
and you kind of say in your head, yes, it is, you know.
This is something I will grow out of.
But you don't. You don't grow out of it.
It doesn't go away. It never leaves you.
For 40 years, Jennifer lived as a man, got married, and even had a family.
I tried my hardest to live an ordinary life, to just be a normal man,
but with these thoughts all the time inside me that things weren't right.
In 2013, I realised I had to do something about it.
That was taken about two years before I transitioned.
It seems like, well, it is another lifetime ago, actually.
My brother, bless him, I told him what I intended to do,
and he sat down and he said, "Well, I have to say," he says,
"You're going to be a pretty ugly woman!"
I've got the letter here from my very first appointment with the
NHS Gender Service.
The 28th of January 2013.
This was the day I actually transitioned.
And this was the starting point, the turning point in my life,
a new chapter had begun.
So this letter, not for its content, but just what it signifies,
will always be important to me.
As important as my Ugg boots.
I feel more content now than I have in the previous 50-plus years of my life.
MUSIC: Brimful Of Asha by Cornershop
How we treat lesbian, gay, bisexual, trams and queer people is a vital
sign of the sort of society we aspire to build.
In the last ten years in Britain we've become more visible,
more accepted in the mainstream.
It's a badge of our modern, liberal way of life.
But even today in some communities, revealing one's true identity can
still be fraught with difficulty.
Birmingham Pride, and the year 2015,
will forever be etched in the mind of Khakan Qureshi.
This was when his South Asian lesbian and gay,
bi and trans group decided to come out of the shadows,
and make the most public of appearances.
It was a fantastic event, because we made our way down this route here.
The crowds were really busy. All sorts of music blaring out.
For me, it was...
It was just fantastic, really.
Pride is associated with vibrant colours, the occasional bit of flesh,
and outlandish outfits.
Khakan, however, decided on something a little more individual.
What I'm wearing right now is the outfit that I wore at
Birmingham Pride itself which was, like, a tweed green jacket,
a pink shirt, brogues, as well, which is quintessentially British.
And then I had of the Union Jack bag as well,
because it howls the fact that you're British and Asian.
Your skin colour tells you that you're Asian.
But your clothing tells the world that you're British.
Growing up in Birmingham, I'm the youngest of seven,
Muslim Pakistani background as well.
And my religion tells me that...
You know, well, I say religion, but it's people who think they know
the religion who'll tell you that being gay is forbidden.
Even now, people are fearful of what their family will think.
They don't want to be disowned by their parents.
They don't want to be ostracised within the community.
Homophobia is still very strong in the South Asian community.
So I think it's about confidence, and strength to overcome it,
and say, "I don't care what you say. This is my life
"and this is the way I'm going to lead it."
Never, ever, in my wildest dreams, did I think I would lead a group of
South Asian LGBT through Birmingham Pride.
Coming together was a big effort.
We felt quite vulnerable.
We thought we're going to stick out like sore thumbs, here.
So we were quite subdued at the beginning.
But somebody decided, you know, are we going to have a chant?
Because the group is called Finding A Voice.
And we are all... "I don't know, it's going to draw more attention
"to the group. Shall we, shall We not?"
And somebody says, "Do you know what? Let's just do it!"
Find your voice! Find your voice!
We started chanting, "Find your voice! Find your voice!"
And then the crowds picked up on that as well, and you know,
to have the crowds chanting it back with us. It was just...
It was a fantastic memory, you know, and two years down the line,
it was a big moment.
-# Just a perfect day...
You know, we're like the hidden subculture.
And people think you can't be black and gay,
or you can't be Asian and LGBT.
But the reality is, we can all be what we want to be.
You know. Our sexual orientation, and gender identity is from A to Z.
MUSIC: Freedom By George Michael
A first Pride.
A pair of Ugg boots.
A song, march or nun's habit.
These were the moments that changed people's lives forever.
Over this series we've heard personal stories of heartbreak,
shame and seen how, for LGBTQ people,
Britain today is a very different country to the Britain of 1967.
In Britain 50 years ago, we were outsiders.
Pitied, feared, abused.
Since then there have been dangerous times, sad times,
but also times of great happiness and fun.
# Heaven knows I was just a young boy
# Didn't know what I wanted to be
# Didn't know what I wanted to be... #
Today, we can choose how we live.
Choose where we work, and also choose who you fall in love with.
And even get married to them!
We can also choose not to get married.
But that's the point.
We have a choice!
Who's going to marry me?
For many, it remains hard to be different.
And homophobia still exists.
But the changes we've seen during the last 50 years for LGBT life in Britain...
..have been nothing short of remarkable.
# All we have to see
# Is that I don't belong to you
# And you don't belong to me
# Yeah, yeah
# Freedom... #
Explore more about Britain's LGBT history and how things have changed.
Go to the website on screen and follow the links
to the Open University.
# Freedom # I won't let you down
# Freedom # So please don't give me up
# Cause I would really, really love to stick around
# Heaven knows we sure had some fun, boy
# What a kick, just a buddy and me What a kick, just a buddy and me
# We had every big-shot goodtime band on the run, boy
# We were living in a fantasy. #
Every so often the world changes beyond your wildest dreams. In 1967 the Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalised homosexuality, offering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people the opportunity to start living openly for the first time.
Presented by Stephen K Amos and Susan Calman, this unique series features LGBTQ people from across the UK as they share the objects that helped define their lives during these transformative 50 years.
In episode two, these crowdsourced artefacts include a copy of the controversial schoolbook Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin, naval discharge papers, even a pair of Ugg boots.
We meet the nun-impersonating freedom fighters the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the writer behind TV's steamiest lesbian kiss and a Muslim man who set up an LGBT support group for Southeast Asians.
Ranging over the past 30 years, this was an era when public acceptance of homosexuality overtook the government's - a time when many celebrities came out and stood up for LGBTQ rights.
But this is the story of ordinary people in extraordinary times - told through their treasured possessions - charting the joys and heartbreaks of just being true to yourself.
Prejudice and Pride: The People's History Of LGBTQ Britain is part of Gay Britannia, a season of programming marking the 50th anniversary of 1967 Sexual Offences Act.