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It’s been almost five decades since people marched through London, becoming the UK’s first ‘Gay Pride’ rally. Now Royal Mail is marking the special milestone with a set of rainbow-coloured stamps designed by NB Studio and award-winning artist Sofie Birkin.

Launching on 1 July, the eight vibrant stamps will pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of the UK’s first Pride rally, which famously took place in 1972 from London’s Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park. Royal Mail commissioned NB Studio for the occasion which, in turn, art-directed queer British artist Sofie Birkin to encapsulate the idea of ‘A March Through Time’ with her vibrant designs. The series was then brought to life by London-based animation studio Animade.

The idea behind the project was to pay homage to each decade of Pride – from its protest gatherings 50 years ago to the present day when it’s seen as a huge celebratory festival that welcomes all members of the LGBTQ+ community. As such, NB Studio and Sofie reached out to Pride organisations across the UK to ensure the symbolism in the design from flags to tattoos, clothing to handkerchiefs was respectful to all identities featured. The result is a joyous tapestry timeline of eight stamps that together form a bigger picture, one that is joyous and colourful, typical of Sofie’s free-flowing renowned style. One stamp features a placard that reads, ‘Glad to be gay!’ while another says ‘Love always wins’.

“As a queer, Essex-born artist, it feels incredibly meaningful to represent 50 years of my own community fighting for, protecting, and celebrating our right to exist and be seen, especially through an institution as storied as the Royal Mail,” says Sofie.

Along with the stamps, NB Studio also designed the wider campaign materials, including a presentation pack, coin cover, hand stamps, filler card and first-day cover. Animade was also brought in to bring the illustrations to life through animation, creating a film depicting the LGBTQ+ community’s journey through the history of Pride, assisted by NB Studio’s writer Dan Radley, sound engineers Box of Toys Audio and voice actor Layton Williams. The animation will go live across Royal Mail’s channels today.

“Over the past 50 years, the growth of Pride has been exponential, each year evolving into a bigger, better, more diverse and more inclusive version of its previous self,” says Alan Dye of NB Studio. “Watching these beautiful illustrations come to life you could easily imagine yourself as part of the march through time.”

The Pride stamps are available to pre-order from today and will also be available to purchase from 1 July through the Royal Mail shop.