Feb 182020
 
15 party balloons floating out of an inverted triangle.

The earliest known LGBT postmark in the UK

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the first Avon Pride, the 1991 organising collective led by convenor and philatelist Rob Brettle sponsored a special postmark. It is the earliest known LGBT postmark in the UK and was only available by post from the Wales & West Special Handstamp Centre based in Cardiff.

The postmark comprised 15 balloons, representing the 15 years, floating out of a triangle. Gay men incarcerated in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s were forced to wear an inverted pink triangle on their prison clothes as an identifying symbol intended to be a badge of shame. In the 1970s the pink triangle was reclaimed as a symbol of LGBT pride and against homophobia.

 

Postal envelope with artwork showing 12 exuberant smiling people crammed in a small boat.iling part

Special cover

A special cover (envelope) was available and used artwork from the 1991 Avon Pride programme. It was designed by Kate Charlesworth, a British cartoonist and artist who has produced comics and illustrations since the 1970s. Her work has appeared in LGBT publications including The Pink Paper and Gay News, as well as national newspapers The Guardian, and The Independent.

Today Pride is seen as a festival with big-name singers and bars selling alcohol. Pride ‘back then’ was about the community getting together and sharing in activities: picnics, boat trips, films at the Watershed, singers at the Arnolfini, guided walks, coffee mornings, and an annual garden party at the Oasis Club which raised money for Bristol Lesbian & Gay Switchboard.

Chris Leigh, with thanks to Rob Brettle for information.
Last edited 18/2/2020