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.
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.
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.”
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.