2024: 29 June - 14 July

Pride Day: Sat 13 July

Bristol Pride celebrates LGBT+ History month 2024

It’s LGBT+ History Month! February acts an an important month for us to collectively learn and restore our Community’s often neglected history. Bristol Pride are passionate about the importance of the LGBT+ past and bringing stories to light.
The 2024 theme celebrates LGBT+ peoples’ contribution to the field of Medicine and Healthcare both historically and today. For now, take a look through some of these incredible pieces of local Bristol history that have been documented.
You can get involved and learn more about Bristol’s queer past by visiting M Shed’s LGBT+ History Month, where Bristol Pride will be joining with a stall on the 24th February (11am – 4:45pm).
In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for the announcement of our iconic LGBT+ History Boat Tours, detailing local queer history with OutStories Expert Guides, all while from enjoying sailing down the Avon with an amazing view from the river. More info coming soon.
Resources: OutStories, Bristol247

The first openly gay club in Bristol was called ‘Moulin Rouge’

Known as the ‘Moulie’ in the 1970s, the Moulin Rouge occupied a former swimming pool off Whiteladies Road. The swimming pool was boarded over to form a huge dance floor making it one of the largest gay clubs in Britain.

Some would be refused entry if they didn’t appear gay and couldn’t name any other gay venues. If you made it past the door staff, there was the salad to negotiate. Under the terms of the licence drink could only be served with food. Customers were issued a plate of wilted salad, strictly not to be eaten; you kept it in front of you for a while then returned it to be served up to the next customer!

Bristol was home to an early gay-rights' activist

John Addington Symond's theories were forward thinking for the 1890s. Born and raised in a house in Berkeley Square overlooking Brandon Hill, Symonds later lived in what is now known as Clifton Hill House, the University of Bristol hall of residence. Symonds was a prolific writer but it's three of his books that make him an important part of Bristolian LGBT+ history. 'A Problem in Greek Ethics' and 'A Problem in Modern Ethics' argued for a rational approach to homosexuality and law reforms. Symonds co-wrote the revolutionary book, 'Sexual Inversion', a textbook on homosexuality that characterizes it as neither corrupt nor the effect of mental illness.

Radnor hotel was Bristol’s first gay pub

The Radnor hotel is the only gay pub in Bristol known of before the 1960s. Its history is unclear since nothing could be written down or publicised before 1967. It's now known as the Radnor Rooms, but 30 St Nicholas Street was a gay pub from the early 1940s. Its history is unclear, because nothing was written about it until after homosexuality was legalised in 1967.

Peggy Hancock began working there in the '50s. She remembers: “It was packed with queens: if you didn’t get there by 9 o’clock, you couldn’t get in the door”

Bristol was home to a transgender pioneer.

Michael Dillon was the world's first person known to have successfully transitioned both hormonally and surgically from female to male. Michael was born Laura and moved to Bristol in 1939. He worked through the was as a mechanic in a garage and lived as a man. In 1939, Dillon received hormonal treatment which began the process of transitioning.

In 1942 - at Bristol Royal Infirmary, he met a doctor who agreed to perform a mastectomy. Dillon then changed his birth certificate to reflect his transition; changing the name from Laura Maud to Laurence Michael. Dillon underwent further surgeries before his identity as a transman was revealed by the press - he decided to emigrate to India fearing persecution. However, Dillon’s importance goes far beyond his medical transition. He also wrote a treatise on the medical treatment of trans people that was decades ahead of its time. Later on he became the first Western European to be ordained as a Buddhist monk.

Bristol Volunteers started an LGBT+ helpline in 1975 from a back bedroom in Totterdown

Bristol Lesbian and Gay Switchboard (BLAGS) was set up on February 1, 1975, and took its first phone call on Valentine’s Day. BLAGS was founded by Dale Wakefield at her home on Hill Street in Totterdown in response to a clear need for information and a listening ear.

The phone line operated initially from the spare bedroom of Dale’s home and was run by herself and a group of volunteers. It was one of the first LGBTQ+ switchboards in the country, London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard had started 11 months earlier in March 1974.

“It was very much a taboo. Setting up the switchboard was really quite a radical thing to do. It felt empowering to be part of an out gay group at that time.”