Remembering James Ledward
James Ledward, deep-rooted, vocal champion of the LGBT+ community in Brighton and Hove and editor of the city's monthly magazine for our community died on Thursday morning after a short illness.
James worked so hard to create the space in our city for the community we are now so lucky to be a part of. In his memory, the Gaydio Brighton team are planning a special tribute programme alongside members of the city's LGBT+ community to celebrate his tireless efforts on behalf of Brighton's gay scene.
If you would like to join us in sharing your stories in memory of James' life and work, you can contact Gaydio Brighton's Programmes Manager here. or share a written tribute below.
Stephen Richards shares memories from many years of friendship
Longtime friend and colleague Chris, shares his memories
James Ledward: Campaigner
James Ledward was editor of Brighton's Gscene Magazine which started life in 1993 as a four page insert stapled into the centre of Impact Magazine, a generic listings magazine for Brighton and Hove. Originally called 'The Queer Guide', Brighton was not quite ready for the 'Q' word in 1993 and the title the city recognises today was adopted in 1995.
During the 90s James and Gscene successfully campaigned to improve services for people with HIV in Brighton and Hove.
He played a pivotal role in helping commission the community led needs assessment, Project Zorro which resulted in the refocusing of HIV prevention funding in Brighton and Hove in 1997. Grants of £5,000 were made available to community groups to deliver HIV prevention message in community settings.
His work was the start of the development of Brighton's wider LGBT+ voluntary sector who had been starved of statutory funding since 1990 by the local council administration. In 2002, James sat on the steering group of Anti Victimisation Initiative (AVI) - a partnership project between Brighton & Hove Council, Sussex Police, The Probation Service, The Women's Refuge, The Racial Harassment Forum and the LGBT+ Community Safety Forum. The groundbreaking project dealt with homophobic issues, racial issues and domestic violence.
In 2006 Gscene was instrumental in persuading Sussex Police to appoint a dedicated LGBT Police Liaison Officer for the first time in Brighton & Hove. It was a pivotal moment in the rebuilding of relationships between Sussex Police and the LGBT+ community in Brighton and Hove which had broken down in 2005.
By 2009 working with Cllr Paul Elgood, leader of the Lib Dem group on Brighton & Hove Council, James and GScene ran the fundraising campaign to help fund the building of the Brighton AIDS Memorial 'Tay' in Kemptown's that forms the focus of the city's annual World Aids Day vigil ten years on.
The money-raising drive was so successful that The Rainbow Fund was created from cash left over after the memorial's construction and is now the organisation that distributes donation raised from a myriad of local events, including Brighton Pride to groups that support the city's gay, lesbian and gender-diverse population.
It was in 2012 that James was pivotal in helping to reclaim Brighton Pride as an event to first and foremost raise money for organisations delivering front line services to the the LGBT+ community in the city.
In the run up to that year's event the now defunct charity that organised the festival of diversity had amassed a mountain of debt and it was revealed that not a penny had been donated to local good causes for the preceeding three years. ‘Pride (South East)’ ceased operations in the March before the August event. With just five months, James and two local businessmen from the city’s LGBT nightlife sector put together a team that ensured the annual ceelebration continued. That year, Brighton Pride raised over £30,000 for good causes and became the blueprint for the Pride the city is so proud of today, which is on target to deliver a running total of over £1,000,000 in grants to LGBT+ organisations in Brighton and Hove by 2020.