The story of Hull’s Dan Billany [1913-43] has been posted previously in ‘A hero of his time and ours’ It is appropriate ,therefor, that in time for Hull Pride on July 18th, we have received this message of support from Dan’s niece ,Jodi Weston Brake,
“I wish I could be in Hull for the Pride event . Dan would have been so PROUD. How times have changed.”
Writing in the late 193os ,when any expression of male homosexuality was illegal, in one of his detective novels ,Dan writes of the reality of gay love then .
“it was a kind of love which,in te world as we know it,could not be made public. Rather commit suicide..Many have.”
And a little later,writing of the very real risks that gay men were at from blackmailers [the anti-gay laws were accurately described as a ‘blackmailers charter’ ]
“Unhappy devil ,Mrs. Valentine [the blackmailer] had found a way to make the very honey of his life into poison to buy her brandy and run her Daimler.”
Turning honey into poison —-that was the reality of the effect of the cruel prejudices and discriminatory laws of numerous gay men of Dan’s and later generations Without their sacrifices we would not have such freedoms as we do today.
And that is why it is so important that those convicted under gross indecency and other anti-homosexual laws should be exonerated–and why we are launching our petition at this years Hull Pride.
Who can doubt that Dan would have been Proud to be marching with us on July 18th? And he would have been utterly amazed to tune in to West Hull FM at 8 on a tuesday evening to hear Danny Norton announce ‘This is ‘Loud and Proud’-for West Hulls’ LGBT Community; being beamed out over his birthplace on Hessle Road. The ‘love which in this world could not be made public’ is now very public indeed!
Yes—-Dan would have been proud of his native city of Hull and its LGBT Community. t
On Hull Pride Day on 18th July a wreath will be laid at Hulls Cenotaph in Hull in honour of all those LGBT servicemen and women who gave their lives defending our freedoms. As Dan’s niece says in a message to Hull Pride, “Their bravery needs to be acknowledged.Caught between the devil and the deep,and so much to fight for-what Hitler would have done to the Gay Community ,given the chance, does not bear thinking about . His track record gives us a terrifying insight
“What a different world we would be living in if it wasn’t for the selfless bravery of all who fought.”
All the braver one might add when they would have been denied the most basic freedom to give expression to the love that they felt for their own sex had they survived and returned home. And which they would have been discharged from the services for until the year 2000. Despite all that they gave their lives for us.
We are PROUD of all of them
And We Are Proud of Our Dan