10. Jun, 2018

IN THIS MONTH OF PRIDE

As we head into pride month amid the fluttering rainbow flags the swell of celebration love and tolerance and that feeling of freedom. lets pause and recall a time when for LGBTQ people of the 1950s  all that we see today would have been simply unthinkable.

ONCE A YEAR ON BLACKPOOL SANDS charts one gay mans moment , when he said " no more, we have to fight back"
Who was this man, a firebrand political activist, a middle class intellectual a society darling, no he was a Yorkshire miner a man who worked with his hands tolling  for long hours below the ground who lived a secret closeted life in a town that had turned a blind eye to his childhood abuse at the hands of a tyrannical zealot father. 
 
Now this  incredible powerful funny story comes to the stage and screen.
Our working class LGBTQ heroes are somewhat  limited and this one Eddy Corkhill would have been forgotten years  ago had it not been for a chance meeting in the 1980s with gay  writer karlton  parris
 
it wasn't that eddy went onto to do anything flashy in his fight fight  gay rights the story is that he went onto to do anything at all.  This was a young man who had fallen  in love with his childhood friend Tommy Price "it was a miracle" is how  he described  finding love in that town in that time .ONCE A YEAR ON BLACKPOOL SANDS says it all, as it was only once a year they could risk spending  the night together risk? gay love meant prison your name splashed across the news paper ruination!.
 
On this night in question Blackpool  1953 not long after the queens coronation after revealing a shocking truth  to this collection of true life characters amid the mad cap madness the high drama the laugh out loud gritty northern comedy   Eddy, a Mr James Elbridge  a transvestite, red Ethel an  elderly   lesbian ex show girl stripper communist, Gladys  the owner of the delightfully  crazy  guest house, Maureen her flirty daughter and a reluctant but ultimately spectacular brave Tommy walk hand in hand from north to south pier a long held tradition by the transvestite community of the time, to walk these few miles as your female after ego.
 
karlton adds
 
"i can see them hands gripped tight eddy protecting mr Elbridge (Phyllis) as the first  beer bottle was thrown, the defiant Ethel her eyes blazing as the insults came thick and fast, gladdys in her best coat and hat holding eddy's hand, kind lovable  Maureen urging Tommy to not run and hide.
and then that moment two young men embrace and kiss an act of love, out in public  for all the world to see.
 
i thank them for the story they  that night  a reminder long before we marched these six brave people walked!