GAY TIMES is sad to report the death of Chris Graham-Bell, the founder of GAY TIMES Magazine.

Chris launched the magazine in 1974 when the rights of gay men and women were still being hard fought for, and in doing that, he played a significant part in getting their voices heard. He was refused a business loan by a leading high street bank for being gay, and the business suffered repeated police raids.

However, the business – which included the famous Zipperstore in Camden, Him magazine as well as Zipper and Vulcan magazines – stood firm and thrived. In 1994, Diva magazine was launched, and a merger in 1999 created Millivres Prowler Group – the largest gay-owned multimedia publishing business in Europe. Ultimately employing over 100 staff, it brought together other well known brands such as Pink Paper, Prowler, Expectations and AXM, among others. In 2013 Chris was bought out and retired as Chairman following a management buyout, and eventually due to trading pressures the various business areas, including GAY TIMES Magazine, moved into new ownership.

A past Chairman of the Gay Business Association and member of the National Advisory Group on police liaison with the gay and lesbian community, Chris was given the 1995 Bryan Kennedy Award for significant contribution to the gay community. In 1999 he received the People Who Make A Difference Award and in 2011 he was among those listed as meriting a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Pink List 2011. He was a member of the Institute of Directors and a proud Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Chris was born in 1951 in Buxton, where his parents and brother Nigel were also born. He was brought up in Wales and went to University at Queen Mary where he started to train as a doctor, but the world of publishing drew him in and it was a business to which he devoted his career.

Chris supported many community charities, and in recent years he joined the Samaritans where he found much pleasure putting his extensive business and accounting knowledge to work as Treasurer and Trustee. He was loved and supported the Samaritans’ presence at the annual Gay Pride march.

One of Chris’s proudest achievements was establishing the Chris Graham-Bell Charitable Trust. The Trust was set up to promote equality and diversity in the UK and to help eliminate discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, promote equal rights and awareness, and better understanding of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community.

Chris was happy in his own company and did not wish to find a long-term partner with whom he might share his life. He loved theatre, ballet and opera and was a Director of the Dream Think Speak theatre company.

After his mother died he spent more time with his father, enjoying the long sea cruises he loved so much. He also found more opportunities to spend holidays and Christmas with his brother Nigel and his family.

Chris was a very private man and would not have wanted to inform or burden people with the problems he encountered around his health in recent years. He died peacefully in his sleep.