LGBT+ History Month: How Jersey went from criminalisation to embracing Pride

February is LGBT History Month - a time to reflect on the great strides made towards equality and acceptance both here in the Channel Islands and around the world, as well as look ahead to the progress yet to be made.

For many LGBT people, that journey began in 1990 with the decriminalisation of homosexual acts - some 23 years after the UK.

Credit: ITV Channel TV

Jono Beatty, aged 57, grew up in a time when being gay was something that many felt had to be kept secret. He recalls a school friend, whose uncle was murdered in what he says was likely to have been a homophobic attack.

That was during my school days, so it did actually make you think, 'oh gosh, I don't actually want to appear as gay because I might get murdered or beaten up or something.'

Jonno Beatty
Credit: ITV Channel TV

However, there were places where gay men were made to feel safe. Gay-run guest houses would open up, their bars became meeting spaces and there were mixed venues such as Thackerys and The Side Door.

I remember the very first time I went in there was before I worked there and I'd never been to a bar like that in my life. I was actually petrified. I really was, not knowing what to expect but you were made to feel so welcome. A lot of people did hide it but they had their reasons to hide it. I never did.

Colin Adams, former barman at The Side Door
Credit: ITV Channel TV

For many those memories are still as fresh as the day they happened, and for those who lived through those difficult and tense times, thankfully much has changed in the years since.

Since decriminalising homosexuality in 1990, Jersey has come a long way in embracing the LGBT+ community. Successive legislation - including the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2018 - has been passed.

Since 2015, an annual celebration of diversity and inclusion has taken over the streets of both St Helier and St Peter Port each year. Celebrating its sixth anniversary, Channel Islands Pride events have provided a vibrant explosion of colour and music to mark the progress that has been made so far.

Organisers are hopeful that the restrictions currently in place can be lifted in time for this year's event on Saturday 11 September.