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Pride: Who Do We Owe Our Thanks To?

The First London Pride March to Where We Are Now

This year (2022) the UK celebrated its 50th year of Pride and held subsequent Pride marches in London. As always, London Pride was a grand and carnivalesque affair, which accumulated over 1.5 million attendees. Consequently, making it the largest London Pride event thus far. Such a turn-out can easily be attributed to COVID-19 withholding the Parade from going ahead in both 2020 and 2021.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pride in the UK, it was important to the organisers of the London event that the LGBTQ+ community were reminded of the roots of pride, and those that faced tremendous battles to accomplish some of the freedoms and liberations in modern, gay Britain. To do so, on the 1st of July, members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) who marched in the first ever UK Pride event were invited to lead a parade of sorts through London. Pride in London highlighted their attendance as a commemoration “of the past 50 years and our evolution as a movement; acknowledging those torchbearers who have come before us and their achievements.”

It is therefore important to first acknowledge the history of the event as a means of appreciating those that paved the way for the LGBTQ+ community. 50 years ago, on the 1st of July 1972, the first official Gay Pride Rally in the UK was held in London. The date was chosen as the nearest Saturday to the anniversary of the Stonewall riots of 1969, with up to 700 participants marching for Gay and Lesbian liberation through the capital’s centre.

Against conversion therapy graphic
LGBT graphic © Freepik

Through the years, Pride then began to take shape, eventually becoming what we know it to be today. From 1983, the march in London was known as ‘Lesbian and Gay Pride’ and carried on through to the 1990s, when it began to take on the form we now know it as. As mentioned above, Pride became a carnivalesque event, with large gatherings of LGBTQ+ UK citizens, various LGBTQ+ organisations and, perhaps most surprisingly, heterosexual and cisgender allies to the community.

Then, in 1996, the event was renamed “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride” in a bid to become more inclusive following a vote by members of the Pride Trust. Finally, “Pride London” was formed in 2004 and became the main organisers behind the event, with only one significant change to the typical parade. Today, parade attendees can also attend a political rally held in Trafalgar Square after the march, which is held to highlight that we have not yet reached full LGBTQ+ liberation in the UK. 

To commemorate this history, Veterans of the UK’s first Pride March from the GLF celebrated their achievements by retracing the exact route that would have been walked in the first march of 1972. The Veterans alongside over 1,000 supporters and members of LGBTQ+ organisations met at the steps of St. Martins-in-the0field church on Charing Cross Road, before walking through the renowned Oxford Street through to Hyde Park. Such veterans like Ted Brown, Angela Mason and Peter Tatchell spoke out to LGBTQ+ focused news outlet GAY TIMES regarding their thoughts and feelings.

Pride march
Gay Liberation Front © Vice 

Angela Mason told GAY TIMES, “The Gay Liberation Front changed my life. It made it possible for me and hundreds and thousands, and growing numbers of people, to live openly and freely.” Whilst Peter Tatchell mused upon the history behind the event, stating that “There were only 700 of us [in the first march] but that was a lot for that era because back then most LGBT+ people were closeted. They feared discrimination, they feared arrest, gay bashing, rejection by their families and even being sacked from their jobs. It’s fantastic to think that 50 years later, this year, one Pride March in London in 1972 has now grown to 190 Pride events across the UK.” 

Additionally, the Veterans each held illuminated signs that represented the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ freedom. Each sign stated, “Pride @ 50/I was there in 1972/Still fighting for global LGBT+ freedom.” There was an emphasis on the adverb ‘still’ to showcase that the country has not yet achieved all the rights and freedoms LGBTQ+ people deserve. For example, homophobia and or transphobia are still a very real threat despite the existence of such events. Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ individuals are not yet safe to be as open as they might desire. 

It is for this exact reason that the community must take care to acknowledge and appreciate those that paved the way for LGBTQ+ individuals in the UK to live more comfortably than previously. If homophobia and or transphobia are still a very real threat, it is obvious that the threat would have been far higher for those in the 1970s, particularly during the height of the AIDS crisis. These individuals still marching today put their lives on the line to fight for the freedom and rights of LGBTQ+ people, and they continue to do so.

Pride London did the right thing in allowing them to lead a march, but its essential to continue to appreciate British LGBTQ+ history and the roots of pride outside of the event. After all, it’s the least the community can do.

Brighton Pride, another landmark event for those who identify as LGBTQ+, will take place this weekend, beginning on Friday 5th August. The event will include performances from Christina Aguilera, Ella Henderson and Paloma Faith, amongst many more.

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Pride in London: Over 1 Million People Attend

Has Pride lost its purpose?

2022 marks the 50th anniversary of London Pride. In those decades, the LGBTQI+ community has made incredible advancements towards a more equal and inclusive society. But, they have also seen discrimination, persecution and even violence. 50 years on from the first gathering and there is still work to be done. Although, with over 1 million people in attendance, there was a feeling of solidarity and hope.

Pride March
London Pride Attendee (from Vice)

This year, Pride received 40,000 applications from the public and community groups to take part in the parade. With the slogan #AllOurPride, there was a theme of ‘looking back’ at the historic events that have changed our society for the better. In attendance were many famous faces, including Drag Queen the Vivienne and pop-sensation Ava Max – to name a few.

One of the many emotional moments came when members of the Gay Liberation Front marched, retracing the exact route of the very first Pride in 1972. One of the original organisers, Ted Brown, told Gay Times of his “strong sense of achievement,” when reflecting on a 50-year struggle. “We now have civil partnerships, we have gay marriage, we have legal protections and, most importantly, a significant proportion of lesbian, gay and trans people are proud of themselves and haven’t taken on the hate and the homophobia that’s been targeted at us for centuries,” he said.

Pride March
Pride (from Vice)

Peter Tatchell – who is one of the most prevalent LGBTQI+ and Human Rights campaigners – recalls the differences between today’s march, and that of 50 years ago, stating that the event “had no corporate sponsors, no police, no arms manufacturers, no fossil fuel companies and no Home Office.” In recent years, many activists argue that corporations have “taken over” pride, which has always been, and should remain, a protest. Others are happy to see familiar brands and businesses spouting messages of equality and inclusivity.

Although positive and packed with fun, the event was bittersweet, considering the horrific attacks on Oslo Pride last week, in which two people were killed and 21 injured. The attacks serve as a reminder of how modern and western societies are not free from homophobia and transphobia. We still have more work to do! Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, commented on the atrocities, “We’ve got to be conscious of the fact that there’s still a danger to this community of discrimination, bias and violence. But, allies like me are really important to support this community.” He continued, referencing London Pride, “We’re back after the last two and a half years or so. This year is the 50th anniversary of Pride, celebrating this community, celebrating the progress made, but also continuing to campaign and never be complacent.”

Pride March
Gay Liberation Front Member at Pride 2022 (from Vice)

Considering the rise in homophobia and transphobia in society in recent years, it is special to see young queer people drinking and dancing with their friends and loved ones. But, it’s equally as important to remember the struggle faced over the decades and the discrimination and violence that is still prevalent in our society today. At a time where Pride is becoming a ‘liberal bandwagon’, the original marchers of 1972 managed to anchor the event to its original purpose: a protest.

Community Featured

Pride Month: Top UK Events Part Two

Hilton collaborates with Pride 365 to prevent pinkwashing

We want to ensure that everybody feels comfortable and welcome in Hilton hotels, no matter their background or identity. With our open public support and promotion of the LGBTQ+ community 365 days a year—we hope to create real change.

So, to support Pride-goers across the country, we have gathered some more great Pride events to attend this year.

Bournemouth: 8th-9th July

This year, Bourne Free is set in the idyllic Meyrick Park, which means this will be their biggest Pride event ever. On July 8th attendees can expect a family-friendly atmosphere with ‘sensory areas’ and ‘educational areas’. Then, on the 9th, a parade will take place with an eco-friendly theme: ‘Pride goes Green’. Hilton Bournemouth is in the Town Centre, which is only a 5-minute walk away from their weekly Westover Art and Makers Market. 

Cambridge: Saturday 9th July

Cambridge welcomes attendees for a free day-long celebration of local DJs, comedy, poetry and yoga. There are alcohol-free spaces for under 25s to relax and where you can show off your baking skills at the Great British Queer Bake Off. Take your cake back to Hilton Cambridge City Centre to feast on and maybe share with us if you’re feeling generous. If you prefer the idea of a relaxing and wholesome event, this one’s for you. 

Hilton Pride March
Hilton Pride March © Hilton

Birmingham: 23rd-25th September 

This year, Birmingham is celebrating its 25th Pride anniversary and has an unmissable line-up in store. If you haven’t been to Birmingham before, this is the best time to shop, dine and party. The heart of the Pride Village has a family-friendly and accessible area so everybody can join in the fun. When you’re ready to recharge, Hilton Birmingham Metropole is a 25-minute uber away from the heavy beats of the dance arena. 

London: 2nd July 

Shoreditch will never disappoint with its LGBT-friendly atmosphere. Grab a drink at The Glory pub and watch their enchanting entertainers. Have a stay in our award-winning Hart Shoreditch Hotel London, Curio Collection by Hilton, for a luxurious night’s sleep. 

Or, if you prefer to be at the centre of busy city life, stay with us at Hilton London Bankside. It’s only a half-hour tube away from Soho, London’s hottest LGBT district. You can always have a break from the festivities and drop into Tate Modern to experience their new ‘Surrealism Beyond Borders’ exhibition, which is less than a 5-minute walk away. 

And, if you just can’t get enough of Pride, see Hilton’s first blog post to find out what made the top five. 

Looking for somewhere else to go for during 2022? We will take care of you:

Find out more about our Pride 365 commitments:


Featured Music

Arca: The Revolutionary Trans Artist Documenting Her Transition Through Music

Once a behind-the-scenes producer, Arca is ready to put a face to her wild work

Arca is behind some of the most revolutionary music releases in the modern era, working with artists such as Kanye West, Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Rosalia, Sia, FKA Twigs and more. Now based in Barcelona, Arca is a multitalented artist, who is also a composer, rapper, DJ, and producer. Her sound is often described as a “chaotic” blend of electronic, hip-hop, avant-pop and reggaeton, which meant that Arca’s audience was limited, but nevertheless, loyal. Nowadays, Arca produces mostly for herself, stepping away from the overwhelming mishmash of genres, for a more accessible sound.

Arca Press Image
Arca from Numero Twic

Arca was born in Caracas, Venezuela, as Alejandro Ghersi. In 2018, Arca emerged as non-binary but later realised that she identifies as a trans woman. In an interview with Vice Magazine in 2020, Arca reflected on her journey of self-discovery, “I see my gender identity as non-binary, and I identify as a trans-Latina woman, and yet, I don’t want to encourage anyone to think that my gayness has been banished. And when I talk about gayness, it’s funny because I’m not thinking about who I’m attracted to. It’s a form of cultural production that is individual and collective, which I don’t ever want to renounce.” In the past couple of years, Arca has infused her transition into her art.

The Kick series is a collection of 5 studio albums, all released between 2020 and 2021. The title of the quintet relates to a baby’s kick whilst in the womb of its mother. In an interview with ID Magazine, Arca goes into detail, “The first image that comes to mind when I think of the word ‘kick’ is a prenatal kick; that instance of individuation, that unmistakable moment where parents realise their baby is not under their control but has its own will to live, its own impulses that are erratic and unpredictable, separate to their own. I think later we have a hard time distancing ourselves from authority and disagreeing with the top-down system that we perpetuate. So this is celebrating the moment of disagreement that is an expression of feeling alive. The baby doesn’t think about kicking, it kicks because it’s a vital impulse: there’s no malice in it.” The concept of the album clearly reflects Arca’s transition and the birth of a new life and identity.

The Kick series was a great success in that it presented Arca with a new audience. Before Kick, Arca’s music had very few vocals, and tracks had a very unusual structure. These qualities often meant that the music was unable to find a home. But with Kick, the songs resemble more traditional song structures and consist of pop, hip-hop and reggaeton melodies: translating into some healthy streaming statistics.

Now that the Kick series is over, Arca has returned to producing for other artists who fall in a similar sub-genre. This week, English rapper ShyGirl released her new single, Come For Me, produced by none other than Arca herself. Arca’s in demand and her unique production qualities have meant that over the years, she has undoubtedly helped shape the musical scene, especially in relation to the popularisation of experimental, industrial and hyper pop.

Arca Press Image
Arca from New York Times

Recently, Arca has made her transition, the focus of her music and artform. In doing so, Arca has successfully bridged the gap between a behind-the-scenes producer, and a front and centre artist. Despite this intentional journey, it is clear that Arca is more concerned about producing quality, boundary-pushing art, rather than becoming mainstream. In an interview with VOS, she states, “I want to be seen as an ecosystem of minor self-states without being stripped of the dignity of being a whole. It gives me the feeling of possibility, to not allow for easy categorization. I wouldn’t want to just go pop, and I wouldn’t want to go full experimentalist.”

The goal for Arca is to create a separate but detached utopia that she can fit into, but others can also relate to. And in order to achieve this, gender norms and boundaries must be deconstructed. “That’s where a nonbinary mode of thinking feels really fertile. It opens possibilities rather than collapsing things. Allowing for change without resisting it.” Arca isn’t interested in creating pop. She wants to create a whole new universe.