Money makes the world go round yet it should be the activists marching at the front of Pride.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of London Pride. The first march had just over 2,000 people in London Fields.
This year, as with previous years, the march will have a very different feel from the grassy roots from the activists in the Fields. These activists have played such a vital role in terms of sexuality and continue to do so yet they are masked by highly corporate floats at Pride.
While it is great to see companies such as Barclays and Tescos publicly supporting the LGBT+ movement and sending a very strong message to those who don't, one has to ask about their real motivations behind coming out for Pride. Pride is an enormous event and does need sponsorship, yet these major corporations have destroyed the real spirit of Pride and use it to promote their own brands. I agree that large businesses should have LGBT+ groups but one has to ask themselves where these corporations are during the fight for decriminalisation.
Pride still needs to be a protest. While we have equal marriage and some may say there is almost equality for those LGBTers in very privileged positions, one should look much further afield to realise that not even the UK has fully made it. Despite parts of the UK ranking very high for LGBT equality, one has to look at those in less privileged positions. Mental health rates among the LGBT+ community are rocket high and suicide rates are also disproportionally higher. The Albert Kennedy Trust specifically works with LGBT homeless teenagers and often report about families who have rejected their children because of their sexuality. This raises substantial practical and emotional issues at such a pivotal time in a teenager's life. They have just come out with probably the biggest disclosure to the people they probably care about the most, to be rejected and have to find somewhere to live. The very fact that this continues to happen demonstrates that the fight for equality is far from over.
Internationally things are worse. Roughly 74 countries around the world criminalise same-sex behaviour, violating basic human rights. This creates persecutory environments for anyone who is not straight, despite this being an innate characteristic. Many of these laws initiate from the British Empire and it is therefore essential that London Pride sends a very strong message condemning this. It is hard to see Tesco taking such a strong stance on this.
I love Pride and while the event is overwhelming, I have always seen the shy closeted teenage boy trying to pluck up the courage to march, which I always find very heartwarming. For that teenager who has been rejected and estranged by his family to be able to walk 1.6 miles to have crowds of people cheering and applauding him for being who he is, is an incredible day for everyone.
I have severe cerebral palsy which completely changes my appearance because of my movements and wheelchair. I am privileged enough to have never really had any problems about accepting my sexuality, yet my impairment has taken substantially more work. Pride clearly is primarily to do with sexuality, yet I find the day extremely life affirming for every aspect of the human condition. There is still a lot of work to be done and it is therefore vital that Pride acknowledge that the parade is a protest and not for profit.