As the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots approaches, we at Attitude Towers wanted to celebrate what Pride has always been about: love, and the right to love another free of punishment by the law, at an event powered by the strength that comes when queer people gather and share a unified voice.
While the significance of the Stonewall riots did not become apparent for many years after they happened on 28 June 1969, what they did do in the short term was act as a spark to inspire the first Pride rally that took place a year later in New York.
(Clockwise from top left: Drag SOS stars Tete Bang, Cheddar Gorgeous, Anna Phylactic, Lill, Asttina Mandella and Liquorice Black; Dr Ranj Singh and Strictly's Jannette Manrara; Gok Wan and director Jake Graf; Cabaret stars Jonny Woo and Lavinia Co-op)
It was a fighting spirit that would eventually span the world. Without the Pride movement, there certainly would have been no equal age of consent, laws to protect LGBTQ people in work, or marriage and civil partnership. And no Attitude magazine.
Inspired by our 25th anniversary year of celebrations and 50 years since Stonewall, we embarked on our biggest undertaking yet: to shoot 25 covers featuring more than 50 people from across the scene and community — activists, writers, performers, and more — to use their platform to share a message of love by sharing a kiss.
(Clockwise from top-left: Author Juno Dawson with her partner Max Gallant; Attitude Publisher Darren Styles with his mother Gillian Styles; Sex Shells comedy troupe members Doctor Le Strange and Dom Top; Poet and author Dean Atta with his partner Thomas Sammut)
The message is simple, to celebrate love in all its forms: between partners, parents and children, friends, colleagues, and especially of love in solidarity with others in our broad community.
It was a crazy ride of wigs, sequins, pink wrestling suits and jockstraps as photographer Francisco Gomez de Villaboa unleashed his wild imagination to create something extraordinarily beautiful.
(Clockwise from top-left: DJ Jeffrey Hinton and performer Kevin Le Grand; 'A Gay and NonGay' podcast hosts James Barr and Dan Hudson; drag queen Jackob Mallinson Bird and Cinematic Masterpiece's Hatty Carman; BET's first out presenter Darkwah with his partner Ross Geelan)
We’re proud to present these covers alongside our friends at the GREAT Britain Campaign, promoting British excellence around the world. All the covers are available to order by emailing [email protected], with free postage and packaging.
It was during the shoot that we were reminded why we must stay vigilant about defending our identity. While photographing writer Dean Atta and his boyfriend Tom, a cyclist sped past and jeered at us. We brushed it off, sadly not surprised that two men kissing on the street would generate this kind of reaction.
(Clockwise from top-left: 'Burnt Roti' magazine founder Sharan Dhaliwal and comedian Sophie Duker; Denim's Glamrou and Crystal Rasmussen; XXL founder Mark Ames with his partner James McNeil; singer Le Fil)
Shortly after this, a car drove past and the two men inside started banging the windows. Minutes later, the same car came by again, this time the men inside banged on the windows harder and shouted at us louder. Concerned for our safety, we finished our shots and moved on.
Then, the very day we finished our last cover photo, we read the awful news about how Melania Geymonat and her partner Chris had been attacked by a group of teenagers on a London bus after they refused to kiss. The incident made our cover series all the more powerful.
(Clockwise from top-left: Fetish club promoters Rob Rutt and MJ Palmer; KU Bar PR Manager Stefanos Dimoulas and his father Neoptolemos; Sink the Pink's Glyn Fussell and drag queen Rileasa Slaves; Drag Syndrome's Danny Smith and Otto Baxter)
As Chris said following the attack, in the face of oppression it is all the more important to be unashamedly visible in our queerness. Fifty years after Stonewall, laws may have evolved but society has been slow to follow.
The idea of love between two people of the same gender is fetishised if it’s two women, and reviled when it involves two men. We continue to fight against a culture that considers sexual expression between non-heterosexual people as “less than”, or even dehumanising.
(Clockwise from top-left: Jodie Harsh and her ‘boy’ self, James; solicitor Stephen Clissold his artist partner Andrew Lumsden; LGBTQ activist and political commentator Shahmir Sanni with sexual health activist Phil Samba; Lady Bunny and British artist Daniel Lismore)
All of the above reasons are why poet Max Wallis and the former porn star Jake Bass lead the Pride issue — two millennials in conversation, sharing their thoughts on love, sex and what it means to be gay five decades on from that fateful night at the Stonewall Inn when love was something we had to fight for.
Attitude's Summer Pride issue, supported by the GREAT Britain campaign, is out now, featuring 25 special edition covers which can be ordered individually with free postage and packaging by emailing [email protected].
Jake Bass and Max Wallis shot by Francisco Gomez de Villaboa exclusively for Attitude's Summer Pride issue