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Pride 1972 veteran recreates photo from first march 50 years on

Then and now: Martin Kaufman at the first Pride in 1972 and on the 50th anniversary march in central London on Friday.

Left: Martin Kaufman (centre), a founder of the Reading Gay Alliance, on the original Pride march. Right: at the 1972 Pride veterans march with former Tory MP Eric Ollerenshaw (left). Image: Supplied/Greg Barradale

Exactly 50 years ago, activists gathered on the streets of central London for the first Pride march in the UK.

Organised by the Gay Liberation Front, over 700 protesters marched for their rights, faced by a heavy police presence.

Half a century to the day later, some of those who took part in the original march were at the front of a historic anniversary procession taking the original route along Oxford Street.

London’s Oxford Street during the first Pride in 1972. Image: Jamie Gardiner
London’s Oxford Street during the Pride 50th anniversary march. Image: Greg Barradale

Veterans of 1972 recalled the fear and excitement of that day, as well as the progress that has been made and the battles still being fought.

They were followed by a crowd young and old, with an open-top bus tailing.

Shoppers along Oxford Street we’re met with chants of: “Gay is good” and “Boris out, trans rights now“.

And, amid the noise, some found time to recreate photos from all that time ago.

Martin Kaufman was 24 when he marched in 1972. A founder of Reading Gay Alliance, he would also attend GLF meetings in All Saint’s Church in Notting Hill when in London.

Speaking at the march on Friday, he told The Big Issue: “There is no comparison [between the two marches]. Fifty years ago it was edgy, it was a bit apprehensive, but I am sure lots of other people were.

“It is something you had to do. But we had been on lots of demonstrations as GLF. It wasn’t as if we were particularly new marching in the streets. What was different is we were marching for gay rights full stop.

“When you are with a whole lot of people you have support, solidarity and love. And by the time we got to Hyde park it was fantastic actually.

“This is more chaotic!”

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