- October 4, 2019
It was late on Thursday that the city became aware of the sad passing of one of its most important and charismatic citizens.
After a short illness James Ledward, editor of G Scene Magazine passed away early on the morning of October the third.
James was born in the 1950s in Liverpool in an ordinary working class family and grew up close to the city centre. He was for years a chorister at Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral and it was there that he discovered his talent and passion for music.
He went on to study the oboe at the highest level, both in London and in the Netherlands. But sadly his musical career was cut short at a very young age by a stroke which left him unable to play.
He went on to have a successful career in music publishing and at the same time he realised and developed his passion for what back then were known as gay rights.
In 1992 James launched G Scene, a magazine that would balance campaigning with entertainment and social news in a way that few other publications have ever managed.
For three decades James has been the champion of LGBTQ+ rights here in Brighton and Hove and his extraordinary magazine’s influence reached even further.
But his influence spread further than just publishing, he was the spearhead of a vanguard of gay men and women who would see that equality was made a reality, an issue that he never shrank from.
He was the key figure that people would turn to whenever an issue was raised, not just gay men and women but also the authorities, from local and national politics to the police and beyond.
In the early days of the AIDS crisis it was James and a team of supporters who exposed the fact that monies set aside for AIDS awareness had been redirected by the local health authority into other areas, a serious misuse of much needed funds.
It would be no exaggeration to say that when an issue for the LGBTQ+ community was raised James would be there, not always in a confrontational way, although he could certainly deal with confrontation, but often to add and impartial and balanced voice in an argument.
And it would equally be no exaggeration to say that many local politicians on seeing that James was attending a meeting would flinch, knowing that this was not going to be an easy ride.
Over the years it became clear that James was the voice of reason, he was there whenever he was needed and he became the go to person for a vast number of people, a responsibility that he readily embraced but no doubt one that took a toll on his health.
But this was only one side of the man that so many people came to love. He was a lover of life and of art, he was fun to be with, caring and loyal. His sense of humour, no doubt based in his Northern roots, was merciless and being with him was always being in the best of company.
The city is a poorer place with his passing, not just the gay community but way beyond. Outside that community people may not have known his name but they will no doubt be aware of the impact that his life and work has had on the place where we live, the increased visibility of the gay scene, improved safety, health awareness and the enormous contribution that it makes to the local economy.
James was and extraordinary force for good, his tireless work across all sectors made him an invaluable part of the local community and his passing leaves a void that will be impossible to fill.