The year is 2002 and you are doing your GCSE’s. You’re sixteen, many of your friends have a girlfriend, but you know you’re different. You know that in fact you like guys, but you don’t know where to meet them, find out about being gay, or even understanding fully what it means to be gay.

That’s because Section 28 is still rife in schools in England and Wales and it is illegal for teachers to talk about homosexuality.

I was that kid!

I went out with friends to the “straight bars” but in fact used my fake ID to get into a gay club in Leicester, where I grew up. Luckily my best friend would come with me and together we would dance the night away to Steps, Kylie and Britney, coming home and lying to my parents about where I had been. Times were different then, before social media and phones with the internet. But it was my only escape into the world I belonged.

In November 2003, Section 28 was abolished in the 2003 Local Government Act. It meant teachers could now be open and teach students about same sex relationships.

LGBT History month was born out of the necessity to be able to educate in schools. Schools Out UK, founded the idea to claim our past; celebrate our present; create our future, and now LGBT History Month runs every February in the UK.

Fast forward to November 2021, and I’m holding conversations with the Luton community as part of my career in Social Justice. It became very clear that the LGBTQ+ community felt hidden, in the shadows, “Luton’s dirty secret”. They wanted to hold a Pride event like other major cities and so, Pride in Luton was born.

I was part of the resident group that helped initiate the event (with the help of TOKKO and the Culture Trust) and in 2021, we put on our first ever Pride in Luton event. We later formed as a charity and brought the Pride festival back in 2022 with over 4500 people attending.

Since then we have continued to flourish, offering Sunday social sessions, Trans+ admin adult support group, the Big Pride Family Picnic and activities such throughout LGBT History Month.

scott griffwood

This month is important to Luton as our town has a rich heritage of LGBTIQ+ activism and activity. It’s said we had the first ever LGBT pub outside of London and bars you had to speak Polari to get in to, (an ancient dialect spoken by gay and bi men- mixing French, English and made up words so they weren’t found out by the police). You can discover lots more about it on the Pride in Luton website.

Everyone from the LGBTIQ+ community and our allies are welcome to join in with the activities we have going on. Pride in Luton is more than just a one-day festival in the summer, we’re an educational, campaigning and community charity working all year round to enhance the lives of LGBTIQ+ people in Luton.

Find out what is planned here and get Saturday 6th July in your diary now for the next Pride in Luton festival.

For me personally, we can never return to the days of our young people being forgotten and ignored because they were different. We need to celebrate our charisma, uniqueness and talent as a community, and that’s why LGBT History Month is vital to me and my town.

About the Author
  • Scott Griffwood
    Scott Griffwood

    Scott is an LGBTQ+ activist, campaigner, and a Trustee of Luton Pride. He is passionate about improving the lives of Luton residents through the lens of social justice and equality, diversity and inclusion.