The Welsh Valleys have provided a home for many influential and well known LGBT+ people from Ivor Novello to Ian H Watkins (Steps) and Luke Evans.

In 2021/22 and 2023 the Welsh Government commissioned training in LGBTQ+ Language and History for local museums, libraries, and archives to encourage the celebration of local stories of sexual orientation and gender identity.

This is part of the work being done on raising awareness and understanding of the diverse population of Wales, and compliments the Welsh Government Action Plan which aims to:

  • tackle inequalities experienced by LGBTQ+
  • communities;
  • challenge discrimination;
  • create a society where LGBTQ+ people are
  • safe to live and love authentically, openly and
  • freely as themselves.

One of the outcomes following the LGBTQ+ Language and History training was the construction of timelines for each of the 22 counties of Wales (plus the historic county of Gwent). This provides a means by which local people, allies and events can be celebrated instead of replicating mainstream narratives and celebrities.

A baseline of highlighted moments from history was constructed by Norena Shopland from her Welsh historic collection and it is hoped these will be added to by local organisations and individuals.

The documents are open access and can be copied or adapted and we have copied and merged the timelines across the valleys to present them in one timeline.


14th Century

King Edward II (1284–1327) is well-known in history for being sexually fluid and had two significant same-sex relationships first with Piers Gaveston who was assassinated for his closeness to the king, and later Hugh Despenser who held vast amounts of land in South Wales including Llantrisant Castle. When Edward’s wife Isabella staged a takeover, Edward and Hugh ran to Wales staying at Neath Abbey. However, when they tried to move, they were, according to tradition, arrested at Pant-y-brad (Hollow of Treason) close to Tonyrefail and held at Llantrisant Castle overnight. Hugh was executed for treason and there is debate about whether the king died or escaped the following year.



Penry Williams (1802–1885) from Merthyr Tydfil was in a long-term relationship with Welsh sculptor, John Gibson (1790–1866) and they lived together for many years in

Rome. In his will, John left Penry £500 (about £73,000 today).

Source: Brecon County Times, 9 June 1866



The Women of Our Mineral Districts:  A writer … invokes the aid of men of the stamp of

Lord Shaftesbury in ameliorating the condition of the women employed more or less in Merthyr, Dowlais, Aberdare, and in scores of other coal and iron districts in South Wales … “In the works the women, chiefly young females, are engaged in manual labour from morning to night, hearing all the common language and observing all the usual habits of the unrestrained and half-civilized men. The dress of these wretched females can scarcely be distinguished from that of the men. In voice, manner, appearance, and actions they have become unsexed.

Source: Cardiff & Merthyr Guardian, May 10, 1867



Merthyr Police Court. Alleged Attempt to Commit an Unnatural Offence - David Lewis and William Davies were brought up on remand charged as above. The evidence was gone through in a cleared court on the previous Saturday. To-day the Stipendiary, after addressing the prisoners some words of warning, dismissed them.

Source: Merthyr Telegraph, 10 October 1879



Yes, the young ladies of our town [Aberdare] are adopting the masculine attire with a vengeance. They are adopting anything they can to adapt them to the masculine sex. Now we see our ladies parading the streets decorated with fronts and collars. Where will it end?

Source: Aberdare Times, 14 May 1887



Evan Morgan, 2nd Viscount Tredegar (1893–1949) is born. The eccentric millionaire and open homosexual, led a hedonistic lifestyle at Grade I listed Tredegar House in Newport, where he held legendary gatherings in the basement that mixed occult rituals with wild partying. Despite being married twice, Morgan’s most significant relationship was with writer Ronald Firbank, who he first met at London’s Eiffel Tower restaurant. Morgan was also an artist and writer himself, publishing several collections of poetry during the 1920s.

Source: Cadw, ‘The Gay Aristocracy



Crown Court, Merthyr Cases. Thomas Henderson, 16, was charged with feloniously and wickedly committing an unnatural offence with Philip Wheelan, 23, at Merthyr on 31 May, both young Dowlais labourers. They were found guilty, with Wheelan received six months imprisonment, and Henderson four months.

Source: South Wales Daily Post, 7 July 1894; Evening Express, 9 July 1894



Actor Kennedy Allen, gained famed for his cross-dressing role as the ‘Baroness of Ystrad Rhondda’ in an interview he recalled:

About this time last year I was playing the ‘Widow Quankey’ at Ferndale. I was sweetly singing my song, when, all at once, the electric light went out. The gas was put on, and that went out, when suddenly an alarm of ‘Fire!’ was raised, and then the audience began to go out. I sang them two or three verses in the dark, but even my seductive voice could not entice them to remain to hear an invisible vocalist, so they departed thence, and in the silent gloom of the dressing room, whilst putting on my pants, the pocket turned inside out. and I lost my money. That was a very serious accident for me. The Ferndale populace will remember the occurrence. I shall never forget it.

Source: Evening Express, 1 February 1895. For more on Kennedy Allen as the ‘Baroness’ see LGBTQ Cymru’s blog page: The Baroness of Ystrad Rhondda: an early drag act.



William Evans was charged with on 9 February 1896 ‘at Merthyr Dovan, unlawfully attempting to procure the commission by a male person named Thomas Powell of an act of gross indecency with himself. The prosecution was dropped. William had previously been arrested two years earlier, for attempted sodomy by assaulting George Edwards, and had spent two years in Swansea jail as a result.

Source: Swansea Gaol Records 1877-1902; Glamorgan, Wales, Calendar of Prisoners, 1850-1920 1889-1894, both via Ancestry


Indecent Exposure. Alfred Evan Williams and William Joseph Thomas were charged with indecent exposure at Penydarren. Prisoners were sent to gaol for a month with hard labour.

Source: Merthyr Times and Dowlais Times, 14 May, 1896


A theatre in Merthyr, hosted Gowongo Mohawk (1860-1924), a playwright and actor born in Gowanda, New York of the Seneca Nation. Her husband was Charles I Charles, an army captain who served with General Custer, and she travelled the world with her plays. She brought her most famous work, Wep-ton-nomah, The Indian Mail Carrier to Merthyr in March in which she played the role of a Native American man. The play was first launched in Liverpool in 1893 with the only surviving copy of the script in the British Library. In her performance, Gowongo troubled stereotypes of indigeneity, race, gender, and sexuality with the Merthyr Times noting Gowongo, ‘exhibits such wealth of muscular arms and legs that at once attracts the attention of the house. With amazing rapidity she hurls a man, from sheer force of muscular power, over her head, and in the knife fight relies wholly on her superior skill. She feels as comfortable in male attire as in her broadcloth dresses and beads, as can easily be seen when she is on the stage.’ Gowongo also appeared in Swansea and Cardiff where this sketch of her was done. She is now recognised as a male impersonator or early drag act.

Sources: Wikipedia; Merthyr Times, 12 March 1896; Evening Express, 7 March 1896



David Thomas, 23, collier, and James Davies, 35 labourer, were indicted with having attempted to commit an act of gross indecency on the mountain side at Tylorstown on January 2. The prisoner denied upon oath the charge, and after a hearing lasting over four hours the jury returned the verdict of “Not guilty,” and the prisoners were discharged.

Source: Evening Express, March 22, 1898



Woman in Man’s Attire. Johanna Williams was summoned for being disorderly in Quarry-row, Merthyr. P.S. Toye said the woman, who was of rather large proportions, was dressed in a man’s clothes, and parading the streets with about 100 people around her. She said she only did it ‘for a lark. A couple of boys came from the front, and I said I would come from the front too and put on the clothes.’ (laughter in court) P.S. Toye said,

‘The trousers were her husband’s and were too small for her. There were a lot of small children about.’ The Stipendiary said it was a serious offence and a ridiculous proceeding. Defendant would be fined 5s and costs.

Source: Cardiff Times, 29 June 1901


Rhys Davies (1901–1978), the novelist and short story writer, is born near Tonypandy. Although a prolific author he never wrote about his homosexuality.



Female impersonator, Will Pritchard, ‘delighted’ the audience at Aberdare with the song ‘Men, men, men.’


Trevor Thomas was born in Ynsddu, Gwent. He became the youngest Keeper at the Liverpool Museums. In July 1946, his career came to a sudden end after he appeared in court charged with a public indecency offence. He later worked for the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.



Margaret, Lady Rhondda’s (1883–1958) known to have had same-sex relationships made her first major speech about women’s suffrage at the Temperance Hall, Aberdare but it quickly became apparent that a number of men were aiming to disrupt the meeting and the speakers were drowned out. As the women stood on the stage the crowd began throwing rotten vegetables, dead mice and even set live ones onto the stage, windows were broken, and mayhem threatened forcing the women speakers to leave.



Edith Gertrude Phillips, lived with her father, a pitman, her mother and five siblings at the Glynderis Engine House in Abercanaid but claimed her mother ill-treated her so she left home. She took her brother’s clothes, cut her hair, and walked to Dowlais Ironworks to look for a job. Unable find employment, she walked to the South Pit at Plymouth Colliery, and got a job as a miner’s ‘boy’ where she was highly valued by collier, Matthew Thomas. She lodged at a house in Nightingale Street, Abercanaid where she was discovered when having a wash.

Source: Norena Shopland, Forbidden Lives: LGBT stories from Wales, Seren Books, 2017


The idea of women wearing trousers in the early 20th century was very controversial such as this episode: “Supposed Harem Skirt. Causes Excitement at Pentre. A young lady at Pentre had a disconcerting adventure. She was clad in a hobble skirt with an arrangement of frills at the ankles somewhat resembling a harem skirt. Her strange dress immediately attracted a large throng of interested spectators, who gathered round her and followed her home with such persistent attentions that she was obliged to seek refuge in the house of a sympathetic neighbour. The affair caused a considerable sensation for a short time.”

Source: Rhondda Leader, 27 May 1911



Lewis Davies (1913–2011), was the younger brother of the writer Rhys Davies. Like him, he was born at Blaenclydach, a mining village near Tonypandy in the Rhondda valley and like his brother he was gay.



George Henry Edington was charged with ’feloniously, wickedly, and against the order of nature, carnally knowing Henry Stanley Davies, and then … did commit and perpetrate the abominable crime of buggery on the 28th May 1914, at Merthyr Tydfil.’ A second charge included the same, but on the 8th June.

Source: Glamorgan Archives, Calendar of Prisoners, 1850-1920



Sarah Jane Rees (1839–1916) better known by her bardic name, Cranogwen, a teacher, poet, editor, master mariner and temperance campaigner died at the home of her niece, at 50 Wood Street, Cilfynydd, Pontypridd aged 82 years old. Evan Rees (1850-1923), better known by his bardic name, Dyfed. Originally from Puncheston in Pembrokeshire, his family moved to Aberdare where at the age of just eight, he began to work underground in one of the local collieries. Much later, he entered the ministry and became the minister of Pembroke Terrace in Cardiff, one of the most important Methodist churches in the town. He was a renowned poet, preacher and lecturer, and for 21 years served as Archdruid of Wales. He composed two englyns [a traditional Welsh poem] on the tomb of Cranogwen. She had two main relationships, first with Fanny Rees who died of tuberculosis and later with Jane Thomas. Had Rees known of these relationships, it is unlikely he would have commemorated Cranogwen.



Roy Jenkins (1920–2003) a Welsh politician, born in Abersychan, was Chancellor of the Exchequer and Home Secretary under the Wilson and Callaghan Governments. Jenkins was sexually fluid and Tony Crosland (1918–1977) a British Labour Party politician and author, described their relationship as ‘an exceedingly close and intense friendship.’

Roy was instrumental in the 1967 partial decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Sources: John Campbell, Roy Jenkins: A Well Rounded Life, Jonathan Cape, 2014 & Norena Shopland, Forbidden Lives: LGBT Stories from Wales, Seren Books, 2017



The National Eisteddfod is held in Pontypool during which Edward Prosser Rhys (1901-1945), a Welsh journalist, poet and publisher, won with his poem 'Atgof' (Memory or Reminiscence). The poem is extensively about heterosexual sex, but there is a short section about a same-sex experience which caused some controversy. It has been speculated that the feelings expressed in the poem could be about Morris T. Williams, a close male acquaintance of Prosser Rhys who at the time was married to Kate Roberts, who is also suggested to be sexually fluid.

Mihangel Morgan points out in Queer Wales, the author’s ‘special friend he describes as, ‘a charming yellow haired youth’ (‘[l]lanc gwalltfelyn, rhadlon’) and one night they fall asleep together and awake:


A’n cael ein humain cofleidio’ dynn;

A Rhyw yn ein gorthrymu; a’i fwynhau;

A phallu’n sydyn fel ar lan y llyn …


And finding ourselves in a tight embrace

With Sex overwhelming us; and enjoying it;

And suddenly stopping as above the lake …


Followed immediately by remorse:


Llwyr-ddeffro … ac ystyried beth a waned

Fe aeth f’ymennydd fel pwll tro gan boen;

Roedd Cyfeillgarwch eto’n sarn dan draed,

A ninnau gynau’n siwr [sic] santeiddio’n hoen!

Mi lefais: Gad fi’n llonydd bellach Ryw,

Yr wyf yn glaf, yn glaf, o eisiay Byw!


Fully awake … considering what had happened

My brain became a whirlpool of pain;

Again Friendship was a stepping-stone underfoot,

Hadn’t we just sworn to make it a sacred joy!

I cried: Let me be now, Sex,

I am sick, sick, for wanting to Live!


This short extract, Morgan argues is ‘hardly the Great Poem of Welsh literature: it’s rather a sort of bisexual anti-sex mea culpa.’

Source: Wikipedia; Mihangel Morgan, ‘From Huw Arwystli to Siôn Eirian: Representative Examples of Cadi/Queer Life from Medieval to Twentiethcentury Welsh Literature,’ in Huw Osborne (ed), Queer Wales: The History, Culture and Politics of Queer Life in Wales, (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2016)



Stanley Smart, 23, collier from Abertillery was arrested on the offence of attempting to commit buggery with Samuel Newman, 50, labourer. They were charged with ‘Gross indecency with male person,’ found guilty and Stanley was sentenced to four months imprisonment with hard labour, while Samuel received six months imprisonment with hard labour.

Source: UK Calendar of Prisoners, 1868-1929, via Ancestry


Evan Herbert, 45, collier was sentenced to three years imprisonment for committing buggery with Leslie Victor Duke on 28 July 1928 at Blackwood.

Source: UK Calendar of Prisoners, 1868-1929, via Ancestry.



Welsh actor and author Vittorio Giorgio Andre “Victor” Spinetti (1929–2012) was born in Cwm, Blaenau Gwent. Spinetti lived with his partner of forty-four years, Graham Curnow.



Cedric Morris (1889–1982) was born in Sketty, Swansea but spent most of his adult life in East Anglia with his partner Arthur Lett-Haines. He was proud of his Welsh heritage and returned often to paint local scenes including Dowlais from the Cinder Tips in 1935.

After the First World War there had been a lack of appreciation for Welsh art and works by Welsh artists was seldom seen in London, so Cedric organized an Exhibition of Contemporary Welsh Art in 1935 which led to the founding of the Contemporary Art Society for Wales. In a radio interview about the exhibition, he called for a community in art to be developed, a Welsh magazine and the organisation for exhibitions. That same year the South Wales Group was founded on very similar lines and Cedric became a member.  He became closely involved with the Merthyr Tydfil Educational Settlement at Gwaunfarren House which had been set up in 1937 providing education and welfare services to people suffering in the Depression. Cedric also knew Heinz Koppel a German Jewish émigré who fled the holocaust, and in 1944 through Cedric’s influence, Heinz was teaching art at the Merthyr Tydfil Education Settlement which Cedric was closely involved in. This later grew into the Merthyr Tydfil Arts Centre with Koppel as principal. Several of Cedric’s paintings are in the Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery.

Source: Norena Shopland, Forbidden Lives: LGBT stories from Wales (Seren Books, 2017)



John Davies (born 1938 in Rhondda) and respected Welsh historian comes out on S4C TV as bi-sexual in support of labour MP Ron Davies (no relation) who was accused of cruising for gay sex.



The Rev. Llywelyn Williams (1911–1965) was a Welsh Labour Party politician born in Llanelli, he later became a Congregational minister and served at Abertillery. During the debate in the year following the publication of the Wolfenden Report which recommended a partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality, William said in the House of Commons: Some words are very highly charged in their emotional content, and the word “homosexuality” is one of these. We should, therefore, be as free from emotionalism as possible in our analysis of these problems and difficulties. I admit that it is not easy for the so-called normal person, such as myself, whose physical and sexual life is happily integrated in a satisfactory marital relationship, to be unemotional or objective in these matters. I confess that it is only on the basis of knowledge acquired by extensive reading on the subject plus a deliberate act of a sympathetic imagination that enables me to understand or even to try to understand the problems and difficulties of a homosexual. But the effort must be made, otherwise there can be no progress in dealing with this admittedly difficult problem. His much longer speech can be downloaded from Hansard.

Source: ‘Homosexual Offences and Prostitution (Report),’ Hansard, 26 November 1958 vol 596 cc365-508



The Red Cow pub in Merthyr Tydfil was a place where gay people were accepted.

Source: Daryl Leeworthy, Queering Glamorgan, Glamorgan Archives



Ten years after the Wolfenden Report, Cardiffian MP Leo Abse introduced the Sexual Offences Bill 1967 supported by Labour MP Roy Jenkins, then the Labour Home Secretary.

After recommendations of the Wolfenden Report (1957) were ignored by the government, several people attempted to have them enacted. However, it was Leo’s bill that on 27 July 1967 finally achieved what the Pontypool and Torfaen MP had campaigning for. He claimed to have an insight into the damage and pain blackmailers could inflict on people trying to hide their sexuality. He cited his friend Lord Tonypandy the former House of Commons speaker George Thomas who was threatened with expose of homosexual trysts. "He was living at a time when any overt expression of his homosexuality could have led to utter personal disaster and the end of his public life" Abse reflected, adding that he had intervened several times to protect George Thomas at one point lending him £800 (a small fortune at the time) to pay off the blackmailer. Leo was the area's representative in Parliament from 1958 to 1987 and had inspired nine Private Member's Acts. A bust of Leo, made by Luke Shepherd was presented to Torfaen Council to commemorate his work in the borough.

Source: Wikipedia; Barry & District News, 18 November 2008


When Leo Abse pushed forward the recommendations of the Wolfenden Report of 1957 recommending a partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, in 1967, MPs reacted in a variety of ways. Eirene Lloyd White, Baroness White (1909–1999) was a British Labour politician and journalist who was elected Labour MP for East Flint in 1950, one of the first female MPs in Wales. She believed it was a ‘difficult, embarrassing, and distasteful’ subject and described homosexual activity as ‘something extremely repugnant’. Bizarrely she went on to support the motion. She thought, ‘that in considering the subject of make homosexuality a number of men consciously or subconsciously are moved to vehement condemnation by some feeling that they have to assert their own virility in the process.’ In 1970, Eirene retired from the House of Commons and was created a life peer on 12 October 1970 taking the title Baroness White, of Rhymney.

Sources: Wikipedia; Tory Pride and Prejudice: The Conservative Party and homosexual law reform, Michael McManus (Biteback Publishing, 2011); Sexual Politics: Sexuality, Family Planning, and the British Left from the 1880s to the Present Day, Stephen Brooke (Oxford University Press, 2011).



Police kept a watch on a ‘cottage,’ public lavatories at Clarence Road, Pontypool, through holes in the ceiling to watch for homosexual men. Six were arrested for gross indecency and each was fined £20 (about £350 today). Cottaging is a gay slang term, originating from the United Kingdom, referring to anonymous sex between men in a public lavatory (a “cottage” or “tea-room”), or cruising for sexual partners with the intention of having sex elsewhere.

Source: South Wales Argus, 19 November 1971



A letter to the Aberdare Leader, from someone called Blaine of the S. Wales Action Group, Homosexual Parents, etc replied to criticism by someone called Mr Anstey who had attacked the publication Gay News - ‘Mr Anstey says he is deeply compassionate to any and all who had suffered as a result of the “permissive” society and degrading publications. Does that apply to the Gay people who also have feelings towards the publication? Should they too have their say or does the word of a homosexual always go un-noticed? … I must stress that homosexuals are not all sinners. We too believe in Christ or perhaps that hasn’t occurred to Mr. Anstey either? … “Gay News” is a world-wide newspapers for homosexuals. It doesn’t bring heartbreak and disillusion. If that is what befalls anyone reading it then that is what they have brought on themselves.’

Source: Aberdare Leader, 29 September 1977


Gwent ban on “gay” literature: Gwent’s education committee rejected a request by the Newport branch of the Campiagn for Homosexual Equality to be allowed to distribute information on sex education to schools. The subject had previously been discussed at a meeting of the education policy sub-committee which recommended the request be refused. The full meeting of the education committee approved the recommendation without discussion.

Source: Free Press of Monmouthshire, 15 April 1977



Luke Evans (born 15 April 1979) is a Welsh actor and singer born in Pontypool, and brought up in Aberbargoed, who made his breakthrough in the Clash of the Titans 2010 remake and has since appeared in action and thriller films.

In 2020, he starred in a three-part TV miniseries The Pembrokeshire Murders. Luke is openly gay but is unwilling to discuss his sexuality in the press, asserting his personal life to be private however he did do an interview for the American LGBTQ+ publication Advocate while appearing on stage in Boy George's musical Taboo: “I had a very difficult upbringing. I was brought up as a Jehovah's Witness. And I'm the only child. And my mom and dad still are Jehovah's Witnesses, so I was never able to sort of naturally come out. It would have been very difficult anyway, even if my parents weren't Witnesses, to come out in the village that I was brought up in. [But] they both know now and they're both fantastic.’ When the interviewer asked if actors were good liars, Luke replied, ‘Look at George Michael, let's say. I mean, he hid it for so many years, and then he gets found out in a really awful way.... Y'know, you start a slippery slope downward, and I didn't want to start that at 22. If that means I'm going to be a poor man at 60, then at least I've lived a happy, open, gay life and not had to hide it from anybody.’

Source Wikipedia; Paris Barclay, ‘Breaking the Taboo,’ Advocate, 9 August 2011



Two influential clergymen met a sharp rebuff after demanding a ban on homosexuality advice in the classroom. Steve Morgan, vicar of Cyfartha and Anthony Wintle, vicar of Treharris, were condemned for supporting “ignorant and ill-informed” views “likely to lead to further misery.” Wildly inaccurate fact and figures were published in leaflets and magazines. Lisa Power, press officer for London-based advice service, Gay Switchboard, said, ‘Ignoring homosexuality will not make it go away. Refusing young people the information they need on all kinds of sexuality can only breed ignorance, fear and violence. Homosexuality can’t be cured be medicine or prayer. It is not an illness. Young people need to know that it is possible to be gay and happy, but this will not be the case if homosexuals are persecuted by leaders of the church and community.’

Source: Merthyr Express, 6 October 1983



Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, a campaign of LGBT+ support for striking workers in the miners' strike of 1984 and 1985, is launched. The film Pride covers their story.



Howard Ashton of Ashvale in Tredegar wrote to the Western Mail objecting to a ’Lesbians in Wales’ get-together organised by the Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. “I understand,” he wrote, “that the Christian Union has been accused of lacking Christian charity. If anyone is to accuse Christians of their lack of charity in this matter, then that person had better accuse God himself of it, since he declared himself solidly against homosexuality.” Howard, like many, insists on enforcing into the Bible a word that did not exist before the late 19th century, nowhere in the Bible is the word ‘homosexuality’ mentioned.

Source: Howard Ashton, ‘Letters,’ Western Mail, 4 April 4 1985; Norena Shopland, Forbidden Lives: LGBT stories from Wales (Seren Books, 2017)


Foster Wales Blaenau Gwent spoke to their successful same sex foster carers ‘Matt and Arron’, who wanted to share their story with others who are of the LGBTQ+ community and are thinking of fostering with their local authority. “My husband and I talked about fostering for a while before we applied. Not only were we nervous with being a same-sex couple, but also being men and would we be accepted in the fostering community, as the stigma on a child needing a female touch with a more nurturing, maternal aspect deemed a better choice. Little did I know that this would not be the case.”

Source: Foster Wales Blaenau Gwent, ‘LGBTQ + Fostering: Arron and Matt’s story’, unknown date.


Wales’ first Gay Centre, and the first of its kind in Britain, was to open to provide social and recreational facilities for the whole gay community. The group wrote to every local authority in the area and all trade unions with branches in south Wales. A letter to Taff Ely Council asked for support and financial help but it was overwhelmingly rejected by the leisure and recreation committee. Chairman, Coun. D.C. Jones said, ‘Quite frankly I don’t think we have the facilities available.’ Only Councillor Judith Burford stood in favour of helping. Group chairman John Stevenson said the project was not about building a ghetto. He said the centre would be a means of removing barriers.’

Source: Pontypridd Observer, 24 October 1985; Pontypridd Observer, 5 December 1985



Pontypridd MP Brynmor John branded a proposal a town Conservative, Desmond Swayne, to imprison all homosexuals to stop the spread of AIDS, as idiotic.

Source: Pontypridd Observer, 4 December 1986


Rhondda and Cardiff area representatives of the National Association of Funeral Directors held an emergency meeting after a funeral director was heard to have handled the body of an AIDS victim without knowing the cause of death. They want the bodies of people who die of AIDS and other infectious diseases to be sent to the rear of a crematorium and into the incinerator without public viewing.

Source: Pontypridd Observer, 4 December 1986



A newspaper advertisement inviting applications from people "of any sexual preference" for the post of manager at Cwmbran's new centre for young people was condemned by ministers and churchgoers. They claimed the wording "implied the homosexual or lesbian way of life is acceptable to society." The £333,000 centre was intended to act as a social meeting place, provide short term "crises accommodation" for homeless youngsters, offer vocational training and information on job opportunities and benefit rights. The centre’s management committee chairman Stuart Cameron replied at the time that the advertisement was worded along the lines of those accepted daily in the national press. This sparked off a series of letters in the Free Press of Monmouthshire including that from a Mrs A. Weeks from Griffithstown who asked if the council chairman, Mr. Bill Cooper, ‘if the advert "had no implications in that wav whatsoever," did it state that candidates would be considered "regardless of sexual preference?"’ She stated, ‘I am sure that the majority of people, especially parents of young children would prefer their children to be taught Christian values than those of a sexual deviant.’  Mrs J. Davage was of the same view, ‘No one wants to discriminate against any individual but the paragraph which included the words "sexual preferences," was really stating the obvious and therefore as totally unnecessary and only served to attract people with sexual deviances … I hope and pray that this type of advertisement never appears again in your newspaper.’

Sources: Free Press of Monmouthshire, 6 March 1987; The News and Weekly Argus, 11 June 1987


In a discussion on how to stop public toilets being used by rent boys, various area police commented on their areas with Inspector Mike Blizzard at Pontypool said: “It’s just something that now and then raises its head. There’s no problem as such.” And temporary Inspector Paul Bryant of Cwmbran Police said: “There wouldn’t appear to be a serious problem.”

Source: South Wales Argus, (date unknown) May 1987



Gay politician Nigel Evans was selected to contest the Pontypridd by-election, 1989 following the death of Brynmor John. He was defeated by Kim Howells in Pontypridd by 10,794 votes.

Source: Wikipedia



Brett Burnell was discharged from the Royal Navy for being gay. A routine dismissal, one of eight that year, ‘one of many promising careers cut short (being gay or lesbian in the Navy is not illegal, but 'incompatible' with Ministry of Defence policy). “But the Navy may remember Brett's case more than most, because he has decided to fight. In the sitting room of his parent’s house in Cwmparc he said, 'I'm going to pressure them and embarrass them, their rules are pathetic.’ His case was covered in a Channel Four Cutting Edge film transmitted on Monday 29th November and a motion was put forward in the House of Commons, ‘That this House believes that discrimination against homosexual men and lesbians serving in the armed forces should end; notes that an Able Seaman Brett Burnell serving abroad HMS 'Active' was discharged from the Navy recently purely on the basis of his homosexuality.’ The ban on being gay in the armed forces was lifted in 2000.

Sources: Simon Garfield, ‘The wrong sort to serve in the navy: In other European countries Brett Burnell would have had no problems, but you can’t be a gay British sailor,’ The Independent, 29 November 1993; UK Parliament, ‘Homosexuality in The Armed Forces, EDM (Early Day Motion)114: tabled on 25 November 1993



'Thanks for nothing' shouts gay rights campaigner after decision Vote lowers homosexual age to 18. MPs decided in a historic vote to lower the age of consent for homosexual men from 21 to 18. Voting was 427 to 162, an overwhelmingly majority of 265. Labour MPs who voted for proposal of 18 (rather than 16 to bring it into line with heterosexual sex) included Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney).

Source: Herald of Scotland, 22 February 1994



Richard Harrington, born in Gurnos and brought up in Heolgerrig, Merthyr Tydfil, wins a BAFTA Cymru Award for his portrayal of a young gay hustler in the BBC film Dafydd, part of the Wales Playhouse programme.



Ron Davies, former Secretary of State for Wales, Member of Parliament, and member of the Welsh Assembly for Caerphilly, stood down from office on 27 October 1998 citing “an error of judgement” in agreeing to go for what he said was a meal with a man he had met while walking on Clapham Common in London, which is a well-known gay meeting place. He was mugged at knifepoint. The full details of the incident (which he infamously called a “moment of madness” at the urging of Tony Blair's Press secretary Alastair Campbell) have never emerged. He later acknowledged that he is bisexual, and was receiving treatment for a personality disorder which led him to seek out risky situations. He stood down from Parliament at the 2001 general election.

Source: Wikipedia



First UK openly gay cabinet member Layton Percy Jones (Plaid Cymru). Cabinet Member for Social Services 1999–2005, Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Source: Wikipedia, List of the first openly LGBT holders of political offices in the United Kingdom



Julien Macdonald (b.1971) was born in Merthyr Tydfil, and attended Cyfarthfa High School before studying art at The College, Merthyr Tydfil. He later became a fashion designer and in 2001, was named “British Fashion Designer of the Year”, and in the same year, appointed chief designer at Givenchy (Alexander McQueen's successor).

Source: Wikipedia


Chris Bryant has been the Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Rhondda since 2001.

That same year he and Adam Price (Plaid Cymru, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) appeared at Cardiff Mardi Gras (now Pride Cymru). Bryant said, “If you'd asked anyone for their stereotype of the Rhondda before the election it would have been that they would never elect anyone like me. But I ended up with more votes than anybody else in Wales in the election - which goes to show that kind of prejudice is a thing of the past. There are a lot of young people growing up in Wales who discover that they are gay and can feel some kind of freak. So it's important that we have role models and that we work to ensure equality in the law.” Price described the event as “a celebration of diversity that is characteristic of the tolerant and inclusive Wales we all want to see ... Unfortunately, there are still too many instances of gay men and lesbians facing discrimination.”

Source: Western Mail, 1 September 2001



Gays flout God's laws, says head: A headmaster faced calls for his suspension yesterday after telling pupils at morning assembly that homosexuals, divorcees and unmarried mothers were "flouting God's laws". Bill Beales, of Cwmcarn High School, near Caerphilly, South Wales, said that in the current climate of political correctness people who broke the rules for "right living" escaped criticism. "Through the thin veneer of political correctness, the fundamental precepts, beliefs and value system of the Christian faith are being eroded by spin doctors and politicians," he said. "They are keener on gaining votes than standing firm on the principles of right and wrong.

Caerphilly council leader Lindsay Whittle criticised the speech given at the 820-pupil school as "entirely inappropriate". He said that Mr Beales should be suspended pending a full investigation. "How many pupils left the assembly feeling worthless because their parents are divorced, because they live with a single parent or may be homosexual?" he said.

"When children from certain backgrounds are singled out in this way there is a danger bullying could be encouraged." Mr Whittle said he had written to the school's board

of governors suggesting that Mr Beales be suspended. Local authorities can advise about suspensions but the final decision lies with the governors.

Denver Preece, the board's chairman, said that Mr Beale had "100 per cent support from the governors". He added: "I am making no other comment, none whatsoever, until I next speak to my governors."

Geraint Davies, of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women teachers, said: "We have to teach our children that no one in society should be discriminated against because of their background."

Mr Beales said yesterday that his speech, entitled "Paradoxical Freedom", was not about attacking individuals. He wanted to highlight the unfair accusations of "bigotry and discrimination" faced by Christians who defended the principles of theirreligion.

Source: The Telegraph, 4 June 2002



Due to the lack of privacy and places to meet, many men would use public places to meet/and or have sex. Apparently, gay men were meeting in a Cwmbran town centre public toilet, in the car park behind the Moonraker Pub, for lunchtime sexual encounters, claimed The Argus. It followed the arrest of a 42-year-old local man for committing indecent acts in the toilets. He was later fined £150 by Newport magistrates. Police put up signs outside the toilets notifying users that they are being monitored by CCTV cameras.

Source: Barry & District News, 30 May 2003


Gay partners rush to register at town halls "More and more gay couples are taking advantage of the new legal right to register their relationships. Registration ceremonies are already being organised by local councils in Swansea, London, Leeds, Bournemouth, Manchester, Liverpool, Brighton and Hove, Bath, Devon and Somerset - and they are about to start in Caerphilly, South Wales ... They do not yet incorporate any legal rights for the couple, although they encourage equality among employers, housing authorities, immigration officials and others who wield power."

Source: The Observer, 9 February 2003


A lesbian couple from Barry were the first in Wales to sign a gay pledge the day after the Government announced plans for same sex couples to be awarded equal legal rights as married couples. Lisa Slade, 31, and Julia Stamps, 23, took part in a service on Tuesday July 1 at the Swansea Council's Celebration Suite at County Hall, the first Welsh authority to offer a commitment ceremony. Lisa and Julia met five years previously while working in a discount food store in Caerphilly.

Source: Barry & District News, 3 July 2003


Farewell in flowers to drag queen: The body of Jason Massiey (32), alias Lady Ding, of John Street, Markham, Caerphilly, was found floating in Pen-y-Fan pond, Manmoel, Newport. He was believed to have been suffering from depression. Fellow drag artist Miss Kitty (27) of Riverside, Cardiff, was the on-stage partner of Jason in their longrunning show at Cardiff’s Kings Cross. “Jason was my best friend and I don’t think I could ever replace working with him – and as a friend I loved him dearly.” Chris Marshall, manager of the King’s Cross pub in Cardiff, said: “Jason was probably the wittiest and most talented drag queen I’ve ever seen. He would have made it very big given the opportunity, so it’s a great loss. Friends made a floral tribute to Massiey at Cardiff Mardi Gras.

Source: Barry & District News, 4 August 2003


Caerphilly Youth Services, Basement team run Caerphilly Borough’s only specific LGBTQ+ group for young people, providing a safe and confidential environment where young people are able to express their true selves, whilst meeting other young people that share the same experiences and issues.



Taye Lee Lopez was voted Wales' most eligible gay man - winning through to the final of the Mr Gay UK competition. But the 21-year-old, who grew up in Swffryd, says that as a teenager, he had no one to talk to about the fact he is gay. He felt so isolated that he tried to kill himself three times by taking overdoses. But now, after moving to Cardiff and coming out last year, he is pledging to put any sponsorship he gains if he wins the national title on setting up a project to help young men in the same position as he was growing up in the Valleys.

Source: South Wales Argus, ‘If I win UK title I'll help Valleys gay people,’ 2 July 2004


The South East Wales LGB Forum, formed in 2004, was an organisation working to empower lesbian, gay and bisexual people in South East Wales by enabling them to voice their needs and concerns in relation to service provision. The Forum covered the ten local authorities of Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Torfaen and Vale of Glamorgan.

Source: LGBT Archive,



Male protestors, men dressed in 19th women's clothes, protested at the lack of restoration to a section of the Monmouth & Brecon Canal. The boatmen said they were trying to resurrect the spirit of the Daughters of Rebecca, a 19th rebel group who protested against road tolls and included a number who cross-dressed. The men thought council plans to restore Cwmbran town had overlooked the possibilities of its canal but Torfaen council said it did recognised the importance of the canal.

Source: BBC Wales, ‘Transvestite protestors on the Mon & Brec restoration,’ 1 May 2005



A gay mother-of-three was targeted by a gang of up to 20 youths who attacked her and a friend with rock-filled snowballs. Tiffany Squires, 33, from Pontypool said it is the latest in a growing list of incidents in which she has been attacked for her sexuality. In the last nine months Ms Squires says windows have been smashed in her home in Trevethin five times. She had made numerous complaints to the police who carried out door-to-door enquires but nothing more is known.

Sources: Barry & District News, 7 December 2005 & 3 January 2006


Fourteen Gwent gay couples became civil partners since legislation came into force in December – and more than 30 more were planning to follow suit. Alan Haines and Darran Richards were among the first to be joined in civil partnership in a ceremony at Newport Register Office on December 21. The couple, who had been together for 18 years, were determined to make use of the historic new legislation on its first day of operation. Darran, 42, a former Risca Comprehensive School pupil, said the reaction from the majority of people has been supportive. “I was worried about what people would say mainly because many of my old school friends didn't know,” he said. “But most people have been supportive and some old school mates even contacted me through the website Friends Reunited to congratulate me and say how happy I looked.”

Source: Barry & District News, 10 January 2006



Dai Davies MP, Blaenau Gwent abstained on an Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations vote and generally voted against equal gay rights.

Source: They Work for You website.


On the 40th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality several men spoke out of their experiences. Colin Davies, 61, of Caerphilly said “queer-bashing” was a regular occurrence as he was growing up and as a result, he found it impossible to “come out of the closet”. He said it was easier and safer to be “one of the boys” than be honest about his sexuality and the only place he could truly be gay in his 20s was in a secret private members club in Cardiff called Sirs. “You had to be very careful about what you did and who you spoke to. You could not let yourself be yourself,” said Mr Davies. “There were always jokes about gays, poofs and faggots and a lot of people were disgusted with it. You were told you were a freak, it wasn't natural, it wasn't supposed to be.” Mr Davies was never attacked because he kept quiet about his sexuality. He even married a woman he fell in love with and they had two sons together before they split and he went back to his gay lifestyle. “I think I did feel pressured into relationships with women in those days,” he said “Nowadays it is so open and so easygoing - people don't care and it's lovely. They have the law backing them up too. I'm glad that people can be themselves and not be in the shadow like we were when we were kids.”

Source: BBC, 27 July 2007


Fostering “enriched” the life of a gay Anglican priest who spoke out against Catholic Church calls to sidestep new regulations allowing samesex couples improved adoption rights. Reverend Martin Reynolds, originally from Caerphilly, believed it would be “a disaster for children” if Catholic Church leaders succeed in watering down proposals, saying he and his male partner have had great joy in caring for their 19-year-old foster son, who has complex learning difficulties, for the last five years.

Source: Barry and District News, 25 January 2007


On the 40th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality a number of men spoke out of their experiences. Campaigner Howard Llewellyn said that, despite the law, attitudes towards gay people had remained slow to change. The 62-year-old from the south Wales valleys village of Abercynon said he felt isolated growing up in the '50s and '60s because homosexuality was not discussed or tolerated. “You led a secret life and you kept hidden a large part of your personality - this had a terrible effect on me,” said Mr Llewellyn. “The stress of not being able to reveal your complete personality to your friends made life difficult. “It was an indictment of those times that it was so difficult to meet gay people because you did not know where they were. My first gay relationship was with someone in Holland at the age of 26. You were told you were a freak, it wasn't natural, it wasn't supposed to be “That helped me to bring my sexual identity into focus. Most people by the age of 26 are married, they have got kids, they could be divorced and married again. “But I was waiting all that time to have a relationship with another human being.” Mr Llewellyn, secretary of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights committee for Trades Union Congress (TUC) Wales, said anger over the loss of his gay youth because of prejudice pushed him to become politically active. But he insisted the 1967 act did not make much of a difference to his life because at the time he did not realise his strengthening feelings meant he was gay.

Source: BBC, 27 July 2007



As the Civil Partnership law comes into effect, venues for civil ceremonies were being advertised at the registrar office in Pontypool and at the Commodore Hotel, Cwmbran, The Parkway Hotel, Garndiffaith Millennium Hall and the Civic Centre in Pontypool. The new law gave civil partners certain rights under the Adoption and Children Act of 2002 which meant a person could take parental responsibility for their civil partner's child, with the agreement of their civil partner, if that person already has parental responsibility. In addition, same sex couples would be able to apply to adopt a child jointly, and would be treated in the same way as married partners by the Child Support Agency. A civil partnership can only be ended by death, dissolution or annulment. The grounds for dissolving a partnership are the same as for a marriage.

Source: Barry & District News, 8 December 2008


Ian ‘H’ Watkins, previous from the band Steps, visited a Cwmbran school to educate pupils about homophobic bullying. A BBC documentary, on Week In Week Out, visited Llantarnam School during its travels around Wales and the students watched a DVD of homosexual teenagers talking about their sexuality and the struggles they had been through. They then took part in a quiz and workshop. Fiona Campbell, progress manager at Llantarnam School, said: "We want to raise awareness of equality and diversity."

For Ian, who had only come out publicly the previous year, said tackling homophobic bullying was something close to his heart. Taila Steel, a Llantarnam pupil, thought the homophobic bullying day very informative: “I've never seen anyone being bullied for being gay but it's shocking to think it happens. I would still be friends with someone if they told me they were gay. It's awful to judge people because of their sexuality.” David Bright, Head Teacher at Llantarnam School, said: "It was a very successful day and I've had a lot of positive feedback from teachers and pupils."

Source: Barry & District News, 5 February 2008


Born in Greenfield Terrace, Merthyr Tydfil, Illtyd Harrington was deputy leader of the Greater London Council (1981–84). He was openly gay and lived for fifty years with his partner, Christopher “Chris” Downes, who worked as a theatrical dresser for Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith among others. In a 2008 interview with the Merthyr Express Illtyd said, ‘“It’s one of my deepest regrets I was never MP for Merthyr.’ He co-produced a BBC Radio Wales project with his nephew, the well-known actor Richard Harrington, and touched on his own experiences of living in London as a homosexual before it was decriminalised. Illtyd had worked at the Merthyr Express when he was 16. In the TV interview, Richard asked him how it had been possible, especially with Illtyd holding public office, for two men to live together, and Illtyd replied, “We did it openly. There were lots of men and women like us. We didn’t advertise, putting a sign up – we just got on with our lives.”

Source: WalesOnline, 28 December 2007; Merthyr Express, 10 January 2008



Gwent Police showed their support for LGBTQ+ history month, by raising the rainbow flag at police headquarters in Croesyceiliog. The force invited reporter Ben Frampton to interview a gay officer, PSCO Dale Morris who said an equality awareness month had made a "big impression" on gay and bisexual people working within the force. PCSO Morris was out when he joined the force four years previous and was also the chairman of the Gwent Police Gay Support Network (GPGSN), established in 2002 and it then had 20 members compared with just three or four two years ago, it also offers support to straight people who may have gay relatives and want information. A flag was flown outside the headquarters in Croesyceiliog to mark the month, the fifth year the flag had been raised by Gwent Police and they were named among the top 100 employers promoting equality in the workplace for the third year running. The force ranked 89th out of 317 organisations in the Workplace Equality Index produced by equality group, Stonewall. Only five other Welsh organisations made it into the top 100.

Source: Barry & District News, 8 January 2009; Barry & District News, 11 February 2009


Gareth Milton from Cardigan joined the fourth series of the S4C drama Caerdydd, which followed the lives of a group of friends living in the Welsh capital. The former Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi pupil took on the role of fun-loving Jamie Roberts, a nineteen-year-old gay man who has had a rocky start to life in Cardiff, including spending some time living on the streets. Gareth, then 27, lived in Miskin near Llantrisant, was married with three children.



Let’s put a stop to bullying: Young people from Blaenau Gwent came together to tackle the problems of bullying in the borough. More than 135 young people attended an anti-bullying awareness day at the Ebbw Vale Leisure Centre. The day of workshops, organised by Blaenau Gwent anti-bullying group Get Real About Bullying (GRAB), aimed to confront issues often taboo among young people such as sexuality and disability.

Source: Gwent Gazette, 11 November 2010



Nathan Wyburn, from Ebbw Vale, gains fame on the television show ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ with his celebrity portraits using Marmite on toast. Wyburn is gay and is an ambassador and spokesperson for several anti-bullying charities and campaigns. “I feel proud enough,” he said, “to create pieces of work that are supportive of the LGBT community.”

Source: Wikipedia



Splag Wales, the Support Group for Parents of Lesbians and Gay Men host their Support Group and AGM in the coffee shop of the Parkway Hotel in Cwmbran on 30th June.

Source: Splag Wales, Newsletter Issue 44, May 2012


First UK openly bisexual chairman of council, Julian Meek (2012–2013), Plaid Cymru, Abertillery.

Source: Wikipedia, List of the first openly LGBT holders of political offices in the United Kingdom.


Youth4u - Caerphilly Youth Service runs Caerphilly Borough’s only specific LGBTQ+ group for young people. The group has successfully supported one young person in putting together an LGBTQ+ group within her school and had sent emails out to all Caerphilly Borough schools to ask if they could visit the schools to raise awareness of the group.

Source: Fyne Times, ‘Caerphilly Youth Services launch LGBTQ+ Youth Group’, unknown date.


The TV documentary, ‘I Woke up Gay,’ featured Chris Birch, from Ystrad Mynach who, after a stroke, changed from a rugby playing lad with a girlfriend to a gay, image conscious hairdresser interested in fashion and interior décor. Although Chris was adamant that he was straight in his old life, most of those around him (including his partner) believed that his gay sexuality must have been dormant, and that he was just in denial, and the trauma to his brain brought this to the surface. A researcher from the University of London confirmed that the ‘bulk of the evidence in biological sciences, in genetics and in psychology suggest that sexuality is something you are born with and develop later on in life.’ Chris said he was happier than he had ever been in his new life but he and his mother had become estranged. “It is easy to assume that she was not able to cope with his new sexuality, but in reality there are doubtless many complex issues around finding that you have a son with an entirely new personality.”

Source: Splag Wales, Newsletter Issue 44, May 2012


A Welsh gay couple from Merthyr won £1 million in the EuroMillions lottery. Civil servant Ian Pearce, 45, and his partner, physiotherapist Lyn Sexton, 41, had been together for 16 years. They were presented with their cheque at Cyfarthfa Castle, also the venue for their civil partnership six years previously.

Source: Splag Wales, Newsletter Issue 44, May 2012



Not behind lace curtains: The hidden world of Evan, Viscount Tredegar by Will Cross is published.



Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council fly the rainbow flag for the first time, in association with Visible LGBT.



Steve Strange (born in 1959 in Newbridge, Caerphilly) died in 2015. He was the leader of the new wave synth-pop group Visage, best known for their single “Fade to Grey”, and was one of the most influential figures behind the New Romantic movement of the early 1980.


Following homophobic abuse and receiving no support, Alex Lonan sets up Project Unity in Aberdare and Merthyr.


English weightlifter Michaela Breeze marries Welsh netball representative Sinead Kelly. Together they open a gym in the former St David's Church in Aberdare. With 11 years of teaching experience behind her, she became a familiar face in the schools around Aberdare and Rhondda Cynon Taff.


Tracy Myhill, from Rhondda, Chief Executive, Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust is made Stonewall's Role Model of the Year, she also appears as No. 31 in the Welsh Pinc List of most influential LGBT people in Wales.

Source: Hannah Jones, ‘The Pinc List: The 40 most influential LGBT people in Wales,’ Wales Online, 15 August 2015


Jeffrey Weeks OBE (born 1945, in Rhondda, Wales) is a gay activist and an historian and sociologist specialising in work on sexuality. He is among the academics in the early period of gay men's studies in Britain that emerged from the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) which he joined in 1970 and the Gay Left of which he was a founding member. Jeffrey was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to social science. In 2015, he was placed 6th on the Pinc List of most influential LGBT people in Wales.

Sources: Wikipedia; Hannah Jones, ‘The Pinc List: The 40 most influential LGBT people in Wales,’ Wales Online, 25 August 2015



Scott McGlynn, a celebrity interviewer and blogger, appears as No. 24 on the Pinc List, 40 of Wales’ most influential LGBTQ+ people. He was bullied at secondary school for being gay, and since published a book about his experiences. He was voted into the Guardian’s Pride Power List 2016. At No. 11 is Gerald Jones, a Caerphilly councillor, who served his home community of New Tredegar for 20 years, was elected to Parliament as the MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney in May 2015.

Source: WalesOnline, ‘The Pinc List 2016: The 40 most influential LGBT people in Wales,’ 13 August 2016


Rini Chatterjee, born and brought up in Porthcawl and a GP for Cwm Taf Health Board in Merthyr. When nominated as one of Wales’ 40 most influential LGBTQ+ people in Wales for 2016 Rini said being Welsh is incredibly important to her. “I think I use every part of my life to do my job, being gay, my own struggles with anxiety and depression. If I’m open hopefully my patients can be open.”

Source: WalesOnline, ‘The Pinc List 2016: The 40 most influential LGBT people in Wales,’ 13 August 2016


Paul Davies, from Treherbert in Rhondda was crowned Mr Gay Wales in 2016. He was the first Butlins Redcoat with only one hand, and the first physically disabled winner. One of Attitude magazine's Bachelors of The Year in 2017, he regularly supports LGBT+ community events and Prides across Wales, and in 2016 compared Monmouthshire's Youth Pride event. He was a news anchor for PinkSixty.

Source: Ruth Mosalski, ‘The Pinc List 2018: The 40 most influential LGBT+ people in Wales,’ Wales Online, 18 August 2018



Torfaen County Borough Council flies the Rainbow Flag outside the civic centre in Pontypool for a week, from August 25, to celebrate Pride Cymru week. On Friday, Torfaen staff were invited to dress down and wear rainbow colours to support the LGBT community. Torfaen CBC's executive member for communities, housing and anti-poverty with responsibility for equalities, David Daniels, said: "Leo Abse championed the change in legislation and was the Member of Parliament for Pontypool at that time so there is a particular connection with our area.

Source: Carys Thomas, ‘Torfaen council and community celebrate LGBT issues with Rainbow Flag,’ South Wales Argus, 21 August 2017


Queering the Map is a Canadian initiative to create a community-based online collaborative and counter-mapping platform on which users submit their personal queer experiences to specific locations on a single collective map. Since its inception, users have contributed more than 500,000 posts in 23 languages to the platform.

Some pins from Torfaen:

2010 - The grandstand in Pontypool Park - one of the best kisses I've ever had with a beautiful girl - realised how queer I was.

My first kiss with a girl - my beautiful friend who's no longer with us. R.I.P.. Tamsin

Realised I was more attracted to women than men

Several people have left pins in Blaenau Gwent:

I saw Love, Simon here with my mam. On the way home we had our first real conversation about sexuality and I realised she would accept me. I never got to come out to her though as she passed away last month. I'll always remember that conversation, I'll always know that she would have loved me and accepted me always.

Although this place treats me like shit for who I am, I'm still proud of who I am and I'm not letting anyone take that away. Although I am the only gay that I know that's around here I hope I can inspire and in courage others to come out

When I was 14, I wore my first dress, and I cried. I'd spent two years questioning my gender, but this was when it clicked for me. I am a woman, and there was nothing I could do to be ·normal" (please forgive the young internal transphobia). I spent the next 6 years hiding dresses, sneaking to my friends house at midnight to was my clothes (boarding college didn't help), and trying to find how to be me without people knowing. I am now openly a 20 year old bisexual woman, lying on my partner's lap (they're non-binary and so beautiful!), and so happy!!!

Several people have left pins in Merthyr:

Came out to my mam as a lesbian in the car around here, she’s been nothing but supportive since


Andrew Creak, a 20-year-old film student who grew up in Caerphilly, was part of a group of activists who teamed up to host Merthyr Tydfil’s first LGBT club night. When he was growing up Andrew ‘always knew he was different but it wasn’t until he was a teenager that he noticed it meant he was treated differently. It was at school that Andrew realised that some people might have a problem with who he is. “I didn’t really feel safe around everyone in school. There was a feeling that it wasn’t right or normal to be gay,” he said.’  Run by campaigning organisations Visible Merthyr and Hope Not Hate, the night aims to be as open and welcoming as possible. “It means there is a safe space for LGBT people to come together but it also tells the community around us that we are here,”

Source: Oliver Milne, ‘This is what it's like growing up LGBT in The Valleys,’ WalesOnline, 25 February 2017


Flamboyant weatherman Owain Wyn Evans married boyfriend Arran Rees in a day dominated by Welsh cakes. “There were cakes and bara brith everywhere. There were hundreds of Welsh cakes. We were entrenched in Welsh cakes.” The 33-year-old and his 28-year-old beau, who works for the V&A, struggled to find room for them. Both of their families came for the big day – Owain’s from Ammanford and Arran’s from Merthyr.

Source: James McCarthy, ‘Weatherman Owain Wyn Evans lifts the lid on his dream wedding day,’ WalesOnline, 19 March 2017


A gay clergyman the Very Reverend Jeffrey John born in Tonyrefail in 1953, accused the Anglican Church in Wales of homophobia after he was rejected for a job the Bishop of Llandaff.  The row between him, the Church and Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Wales, ran on for many months.

Source: Wikipedia



Adam Smith, chairman and founder of Rainbow Newport speaks to the South Wales Argus about his background. ‘I had an ok upbringing but I knew from high school that I was different – I didn’t feel that I fitted in. I didn’t know what was going on. I think it was at about 14 I started having feelings for guys. At the time I was living in Cwmbran with my mum and dad and I shut myself away - the only people I spoke to was my family. I had

female friends, but never found them attractive. I came out when I was about 17, and as a result I moved with my dad down in Newport.’ Adam later worked for Pride Cymru and was Chair of Pride in the Port, Newport.

Source: South Wales Argus, 28 March 2018


Documentary photographer Roger Tiley opened a new exhibition from 3-31 March at The Kickplate Gallery in Abertillery. Mr Tiley said the idea for this piece of work came after he was invited to photograph the Lesbian & Gays Support the Miners reunion event at the Onllwyn Miners’ Welfare Hall in the Dulais Valley in 2015. The photographer said the venue for the exhibition was fitting as “it clearly illustrates the change in the  understanding and cultural diversity in an area that has faced many changes”.

Source: BBC News, ‘LGBTQ photography exhibition opens in Abertillery,’ 3 March 2018


Pink Iris is formed as a support group for locals and to promote awareness and inclusion. On the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia There was an LGBT Flag Raising Ceremony in Merthyr Tydfil on 17th May 2018 to mark IDAHOT (International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia).

We also attended the LGBTQIA – Pink Iris Forum. This group is newly formed after the dissolution of the Visible SMT group. As the group are just starting out independently, support has also been given through the Local Authority and from Project Unity, the Rhondda Cynon Taff LGBT+ group.

Source: Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, Annual Equality Report 2018-2019



Matthew Cleverly from Pontypool graduates from the Rose Bruford Class of 2017 with a BA (Hons) in American Theatre Arts course. Now, London based, he works as a freelance actor, playwright, ESL teacher, and Child Entertainer. He realised he was bisexual when meeting a group of like-minded individuals at school and ‘observed the treatment of those individuals that did ‘come out’.’

Sources: The Mandy Network; Jack Strange, ‘Valley Boys Like Boys - Growing up Gay in the Welsh Valleys,’ The Gay UK, 8 March 2019


In an interview, Jack Strange said, ‘As I drive through the Welsh town of Pontypool I’ve lived in since I was born, with a population of approximately 36,000 people, I’m surprised to see a rainbow flag flying high outside the civic centre in the middle of the town. It’s LGBT history month, but the flag doesn’t just stay up during February.

Instead, it has become a permanent feature, flying proudly with the Welsh flag and the European Union flag … Growing up gay in Wales, I found it incredibly difficult.

The town I live in is rather behind the times … Lisa McNally is a mother from Cwmbran, South Wales. She witnessed her son, Lewis experience homophobic bullying … “I have walked through school with Lewis to chants of ‘faggot’, ‘gay boy’, ‘bummer’, and I have endured this when walking through the town centre with Lewis, too. He ignores them. I found it hard to do so.”

Source: Jack Strange, ‘Valley Boys Like Boys - Growing up Gay in the Welsh Valleys,’ The Gay UK, 8 March 2019


The raising of the LGBT & Transgender flags took place on 18 February 2019 in the presence of the Mayor, Councillor Clive Tovey, The Leader, Councillor Kevin O’Neill, Deputy Chief Executive, Ellis Cooper, Chief Superintendent, Belinda Davies, Dawn Bowden AM along with Councillors, Staff of MTCBC, Police Officers, PCSO’s, representatives of the Youth Forum and students from Merthyr College. The flags were raised by Ryan Crowley, Chair of the Youth Forum and Krystian Maciejczyk Deputy Youth Mayor. On the Merthyr Tydfil CBC Facebook site, there were numerous negative and hate-filled comments with many more writing in defence of the council.

Source: Merthyr Tydfil CBC Facebook, 18 February 2019


The first Pride event in the Welsh Valleys was organised by Lauren and Natalie Bowen of RCT Pride. In Treorch, a permanent mural stands in commemoration of this important event.

Source: Welsh Pride: A Timeline of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender (LGBTQ+) History in Wales



The Kings, Queens and Everyone In Between group was set up by the Torfaen council’s youth service to offer lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people and their friends a safe place to meet. Founding member Hollie-Mai said: “This group is amazing for helping to educate people about the issues the community faces.” Torfaen Council is also working with Stonewall Cymru to offer staff training in supporting young residents who are members of the LGBTQ community.

Source: Torfaen Council Facebook page, 17 May 2021



Gwent Police launch LGBTQ+ community group in Caerphilly. CSO Rhiannon Collins and the team at Bedwas police station lead a new LGBTQ+ engagement group in Caerphilly and hope to create a safe, inclusive space in which people can talk openly about their community. The inaugural meeting, held at Coffi Vista, Caerphilly, on Wednesday 13 October, saw residents, police officers and councillors join one another in sharing their thoughts on public safety, community cohesion and inclusivity. Inspector Gavin Clifton said: “We’re committed to dealing with and preventing crimes experienced by LGBT+ people, including crimes targeted towards people as a result of hatred or hostility towards a personal characteristic. The sessions are set to be held monthly.

Source: Heddlu Gwent Police website, News, 15 October 2021


Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council showed its support of the LGBT+ community by raising the Progress Flag outside the Civic Centre today on 1 February 2021. The Progress Flag, released in 2018, aims to represent inclusion and progression. It includes the six stripes of the LGBTQ flag, alongside the trans flag, and stripes representing marginalised communities. These form an arrow pointing towards the right to represent forward movement. Council Leader Cllr Lisa Mytton spoke of the strong ties between South Wales communities and LGBT groups, dating back to the Miners’ Strike of 1984-85.

Source: Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Merthyr Tudful /Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, LGBT+ History Month, 1 February 2021


Jeffrey Weeks’ autobiography, Between Worlds: A Queer Boy from The Valleys, is published by Parthian Books. ‘Jeffrey Weeks was born in the Rhondda in 1945, of mining stock. As he grew up he increasingly felt an outsider in the intensely communityminded valleys, a feeling intensified as he became aware of his gayness. Escape came through education. He left for London, to university, and to realise his sexuality. From the early 1970s he was actively involved in the new gay liberation movement and became its pioneering historian.’

Source: Parthian Books website


Norena Shopland talks to Rhondda MP Chris Bryant about his book The Glamour Boys: The Secret Story of the Rebels who Fought for Britain to Defeat Hitler. The full interview can be seen on Pride Cymru’s Facebook page.


I hid my partner upstairs: Baroness Debbie Wilcox recalls her experiences teaching during the Section 28 era in the 80s and 90s, when promotion of homosexuality by local authorities was prohibited. ‘A Rhondda-born girl with a working-class upbringing, she became the first female leader of Newport Council back in 2016 is now the front bench spokesperson for Wales in the House of Lords. But it was during her time as a student at Porth County Girls Grammar School from 1968 to 1975 that she soon discovered she was not like her other students.

From school, she began her journey into teaching. Having left drama school she started educating others in the subject in south London, before returning to Newport with an ex-partner to be closer to home. But with Section 28 having been introduced, it meant Debbie had to navigate her job as a gay person while hiding her sexuality from colleagues.

“Oh my goodness. After being in London for five years where everything was so open about being gay, to come back to a small valleys town. Blimey, it was like going back in time,” she said.

“Although I must say the people I worked with were absolutely lovely, but there was no way I could tell them that I was gay. So, you know, this lifetime of hiding began when I came back to Wales. I was teaching in Llanwern High School (previously Hartridge High School). I had a couple of close friends in school who knew I was gay, but never talked about it.”’

Source: Wales Online, 5 September 2022



Proud Councils - a group of eight south Wales local authorities committed to improving support offered to LGBT+ staff within councils - was shortlisted for the public sector equality award in the PinkNews awards. The group - Newport, Caerphilly, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Cardiff, Bridgend and Swansea councils - also seek to ensure local government across Wales is a visible leader in the field of LGBT+ rights, actively championing LGBT+ inclusion in communities.

Source: South Wales Argus, ‘Councils applauded for supporting LGBT staff,’ 13 June 2022


Cadw (meaning ‘to keep’ or ‘to protect’) is the historic environment service of the Welsh Government and part of the Tourism and Culture group, working to protect the historic buildings and structures, the landscapes and heritage sites of Wales, to make them available for the public to visit, enjoy, and understand their significance. As part of History Month in February, Cadw published its blog, Seven Listed Buildings with links to Wales’ proud LGBTQ+ History, including a piece on King Edward II and Hugh Despenser: Hugh Despenser became the king’s favourite and alleged lover around 1317 and for years Despenser effectively ran the kingdom on Edward’s behalf. At Caerphilly Castle “signs of their relationship can still be found across castle grounds to this day, with the decorative stone heads overlooking the castle’s Great Hall supposedly representing the pair.”

Source: Cadw website, 21 February 2022


The Royal Mint in Ynysmaerdy produces a Pride Coin. It is made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march in the UK “marking the first time Britain’s LGBTQ+ community has been celebrated on a UK coin.” Five million were released into general circulation and coloured souvenir editions were also made available.

Source: The Royal Mint website



A council campaign to push LGBTQ+ rights helped a top councillor to “accept” he’d been “denying” his identity as a gay man. Richard Clark, who was the deputy leader of Torfaen Borough Council, revealed how awarenessraising campaigns by the council had helped change his life when councillors agreed to support local Pride initiatives which promote acceptance, equality and celebrate the work of LGBTQ+ people. The councillor, who has lived all his life in Croesygeiliog, said, ‘“I, for one, feel proud of who I am and what this council does in support of equality.”  Cllr Clark was the second Torfaen councillor to have spoken publicly about their experiences as a gay man. At June’s council meeting his Labour colleague, Nathan Yeowell, who represents Panteg, revealed the toll feeling unable to discuss his sexuality as a young man had taken on his mental health.

Source: Twm Owen, ‘Torfaen’s LGBTQ+ campaign helps top councillor to be proud and accept his identify,’ Herald of Wales, (no date, possibly August 2023)


On 18th July, Torfaen Council was being presented with a motion by Independent Councillor, Giles Davies, to acknowledge the LGBT+ community in the borough of Torfaen as well as to acknowledge support by the local authority for a pride event in Torfaen. The motion reads: “This council notes that the LGBTQ+ community is an important part of our society and that it is important to support and celebrate diversity in all its forms. This council also notes that the LGBTQ+ community has faced significant challenges over the years, including discrimination and prejudice. This council therefore resolves to support LBGTQ+ Pride events across the borough in their communications including social media channels, highlighting the importance of Pride and why we must continue to support our LGBTQ+ family members, friends, colleagues, and constituents. This council also resolves to promote equality and diversity in all its forms and to work towards creating a more inclusive society for all.”

Sources: Torfaen Pride website


‘LGBTQ+ Support Groups - LGBTQ+ support groups for children and young people are still in operation across Blaenau Gwent. The support groups provide appropriate information and with the opportunity to speak about feelings and empower them to ensure their voice is heard within a safe space.’

Source: Blaenau Gwent Council, ‘Blaenau Gwent Strategic Equality Plan: Annual Report 2022-2023


Councils from across South and Mid-Wales came together on Saturday 17 2023 to participate in the annual Pride Cymru parade in Cardiff.  ‘Proud Councils’ is a network of local authorities committed to ensuring that local government in Wales is a visible ally to LGBTQ+ people and playing our part in upholding the rights of LGBTQ+ people. As a member of the network, Blaenau Gwent Council is committed to actively championing LGBTQ+ inclusion in our workforces and communities.

Source: Blaenau Gwent Council website, ‘Proud Councils at Pride Cymru Parade,’ 20 June 2023


Councillors in Caerphilly have pledged to support current and former LGBTQ+ members of the armed forces, who for years faced discrimination and were at risk of losing their jobs. The council has agreed unanimously to sign up to the Pride in Veterans Standard (PiVS), committing to helping veterans and their families impacted by the armed forces’ former ban on homosexuality. The military ban on LGBT personnel was in force between 1967 and 2000, and during that time anyone in breach of the rules faced being sacked, stripped of their medals, or losing out on their pensions. Earlier this year, the UK Government apologised to veterans affected by the policy, which then-defence secretary Ben Wallace branded a “shameful and unacceptable” chapter of the armed forces’ history.

Source: Nicholas Thomas, ‘Caerphilly Council pledges support for LGBT veterans,’ South Wales Argus, 30 November 2023


Caerphilly holds its first Pride on 24 June. Cllr Jamie Pritchard, Deputy Leader of the Council said: “We at CCBC, are committed to ensuring Caerphilly County Borough remains an inclusive place to live, work and visit for all, and this event is just one way we can listen to the voices of our LGBTQ+ community.” Pride Caerffili was a huge success as Caerphilly town centre was filled with rainbow flags, banners and bunting and 23,957 visitors.

Source: Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Caerffili/Caerphilly County Borough Council website, ‘People line the streets at the first Pride Caerffili,’ News Centre, 30 June 2023


Merthyr holds its first Pride organised by the Merthyr Pride Working Group made up of representatives from the LGBTQIA+ community and local partners and sponsors.

“A thriving queer scene is probably not what springs to mind when thinking of the Welsh valleys. But that’s all changing thanks to the emergence of a new LGBTQ+ subculture that sprang up in Cardiff during lockdown. The Welsh Ballroom Community (WBC) is the first of its kind in the country – but waltzing has very little to do with it. In this context, ballroom refers to the queer movement that began in 1920s New York, when black and Latino drag queens began to organise their own pageants, rebelling against racism in the established circuits. Welcoming all races and sexualities, they became safe spaces

where people could be themselves and compete for trophies and cash prizes. Tayo Sanwo (dressed in a recycled Welsh flag outfit, in Tonypandy) is an engineer who grew up in Essex but moved to Cardiff six years ago. She has found joining the WBC transformative. “It has been an extraordinary journey. It’s allowed me to celebrate body positivity and love the skin that I’m in with no apologies,” she said. “It’s allowed me to connect with the beautiful individuals who have now become my chosen family.

It has helped me become more of the person that I am today.”

Source: Daisy Greenwell, ‘The thriving queer scene that found a home in the Welsh valleys,’ Positive.News, 29 May 2023



The first Torfaen Pride is to take place on 1 June in Pontypool Park. ‘Club F.O.D is one of the few charities in the UK that focuses on preventing and reducing social isolation for LGBT+ people. CEO, Jamie Wake, was initially tasked with establishing dedicated LGBT+ dedicated nights, events and activities when he moved to South Wales from Reading where we had already established popular events. After he had moved, he started exploring the possibility of setting up a dedicated LGBT+ night and was repeatedly told that Torfaen needed its own pride event, and so Torfaen Pride was born. “Not only is it our intention to build a successful pride event here in Torfaen, but also to build a sense of community and develop dedicated LGBT+ nights and activities across Torfaen for the LGBT+ community. We are also in the development stage of establishing an LGBT+ community hub for Torfaen and the surrounding valleys.”

Source: Torfaen Pride website; Pink UK website


‘The chief Constable of Gwent Police has apologised for “past injustices” experienced by LGBTQ+ residents and acknowledged historical issues have an “ongoing impact” on levels of trust. It makes Gwent Police the first force in Wales and tenth in the UK to formally apologise for its historic policing of LGBTQ+ communities as part of the human rights group’s #ApologiseNow campaign.

Source: Sam Portillo, ‘Gwent Police chief says 'sorry' for LGBTQ+ policing in past,’ 7 February 2024