My Brighton: George Montague

August 2, 2017

'The oldest gay in the village'

 

 

 Photo by Adam Bronkhorst

 

Are you local?

 

No, but it’s my second home. My partner Somchai and I moved here permanently in 2004, but I first came here in 1950. If you were a young gay guy and you lived in a small country town or village where nobody knew, you came to Brighton. It was so wonderful to let it all hang out. You let your hair down. And everything else.


When did you come out?

 

Not until ten years ago. I did quite a bit of acting as a youngster and I’m quite good at it. I did the only thing possible in those days if you were a gay man and you didn’t want people to know; I found a wonderful woman who fell in love with me. I was married with a family, but my wife knew I was gay and she let me come to Brighton every now and again. She was the most exceptional woman. She helped me to live the lie. 


How does it feel to be in the Pride parade?

 

Pride has been the making of me. Ten years ago I came to Brighton and joined the parade. I was 84 at that time, and I had an idea for a costume, inspired by Little Britain, to write a sign that said ‘I’m the oldest gay in the village!’ I’ve been to London Pride, Manchester Pride - but Brighton is the very best one. The streets are narrow, it’s crowded, and all the windows are full of people looking and cheering. I’m so looking forward to it. 


Do you join in every year?

 

This year will be my ninth. I missed last year’s parade because I was collecting signatures for my petition to get a full apology for being convicted of gross indecency in 1974. For my generation, to be gay was to be guilty. You didn’t have to do anything wrong… Brighton Pride inspired me to put it right. I got a letter of apology from the Home Office this January and it made my day. But it’s only addressed to me and that’s a bone of contention. There are 15,000 other gay men still alive who have similar convictions. 


Where do you like to go when you go out?

 

Well, I bully Somchai and say ‘come on darling, let’s go out’. I feel guilty because he does all the shopping, cooking and cleaning, so we’ll go out for a drive, up to the Devil’s Dyke pub, taking in Fulking and Poynings on the way.


What do you think of the i360?

 

We haven’t been up yet. We’re too busy. We’ve been watching them build the wind farm, and I’d like to go up the i360 to see it. I’ve got a great pair of binoculars. It’s finding the time. It’s surprising at my age that we’re so busy. It’s wonderful.


Do you ever swim in the sea?

 

No. We still go to our second home in Thailand, but I can’t walk in the sea with the loose sand. Even with a walking stick. I’ve never been swimming in the sea in England. The older you get, the more you feel the cold. I don’t go to the beach anymore, I just sunbathe on my porch with my shorts on.    


Gay Pride takes place from 4th-6th August, George will be in the parade on the 5th. 
brighton-pride.org


'The Oldest Gay in the Village', George’s autobiography, is published by Metro. See more of George’s story in ‘Convicted for Love’ on All4

 

Photo by Adam Bronkhorst

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