Former Blackpool man Lewis has such Pride in his first published book

Lewis Laney is celebrating the publication of his first book next weekLewis Laney is celebrating the publication of his first book next week
Lewis Laney is celebrating the publication of his first book next week | other
A former Blackpool man has written a book about the Gay Pride marches and credits the resort as a key influence.

Lewis Laney, 38, the author of The Little Book of Pride, moved to Blackpool at the age of 17 and spent five years living in the town, during which he was a student at Blackpool and The Fylde College.

Now based in London and working for a publishing firm, he says Blackpool's thriving gay scene played a pivotal in his growing personal confidence in coming to terms with his own identity as a young gay man.

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The book, which is Lewis' first, is a concise look at everything people need to know about Pride, revealing the history, the key people involved, some of the best known Pride events around the world, inspirational quotes from famous gay people, Pride facts and a fun Pride survival guide.

Lewis Laney's The Little book of PrideLewis Laney's The Little book of Pride
Lewis Laney's The Little book of Pride | other

Lewis said he was inspired to write the book because this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Pride marches, which took place in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on June 28, 1970.

These marches were held to commemorate the first anniversary of the so-called Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village, New York, in 1969 when spontaneous riots broke out after a police raid on the village's Stonewall Inn, one of the few places where gay people, transsexuals and drag artists could find refuge in a frequently hostile environment in America.

Blackpool's own Pride parade every summer is now one of the key events in the town's calendar.

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Lewis said: "Since the first Pride marches that year, they have been held ever since and now versions of them take place all over the world, including Blackpool.

"It is important that these events allow us to celebrate our identity and culture but I didn't want the book to be a big, serious tome.

"I wanted it to appeal to young people, so it is quite small, it is snappy and colourful and it has quotes from influential people such as Oscar Wilde, Lady Gaga and activist Barbara Gittings, a major LGBT activist..

"It took me about six months to research and write it."

Because the Covid19 lockdown means that people can’t celebrate Pride month in the usual way - with a parade in the street - he made a plea to his publishers to release the book early in June.

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This way people could learn some Pride history during the month and celebrate at home.

Lewis grew up in a small village Chesterfield, Derbyshire, where he first came out as gay at the age of 14.

He says this wasn't too difficult an experience, because although there were one or two bullies at school, his teachers were highly supportive, as were members of his family.

But he says his confidence grew when he followed his father to South Shore in 1999.

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Lewis says: "It was Blackpool's gay scene which made me decided to come here and join dad.

"It was so welcoming that for the first time I felt I could be myself and it is one reason why I will always hold Blackpool so dear."

His dad still lives on the Fylde coast, in St Annes.

Lewis lives with partner Ben and their dog in South London.

The Little Book of Pride is published by Dog ‘n’ Bone/CICO Books from Tuesday next week, and is available via stockists such as Waterstones or online via Amazon.

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