Gay Pride is a day when people with peroxide blonde hair wear speedos whist blowing a whistle down Baker Street, an allocated day in the calendar you're allowed to be LGBT on the streets of London. But it was once much more than a celebration of rainbow flags made in China: it used to be political.
Historically Pride was a rally that went past Greater London House, Houses of Parliament and Downing Street, usually the first Saturday in July to coincide with the anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Its aim was to push for political change, equal rights and highlight our community as a force to be reckoned with. This weekend the march will go past Selfridges, H&M and Burberry which says a lot about what is important to Pride London in 2012.
Pride London were asked to host World Pride this year, which is like a normal Pride but encourages foreign gays to come to visit WC1 and join in on the flag waving - a bit like the Jubilee with less cake and more substances. But hold on, before you buy another pink cowboy hat with tinsel trim; Pride are having to scale down the event to cut costs.
Pride London operates as a charity and need to secure enough sponsorship to allow the gays to take over the West End with floats pumping out progressive house (oxymoron). But they haven't been able to balance their budget. In a statement issued on their website Pride London broke the bad news:
Each and every year, Pride London needs to achieve some serious commercial targets to fund the event - and this year, targets are even higher than before, because of increased cost, the sheer scale of the planned event and mounting pressure to deliver a "world class" event. To a backdrop of a more difficult economic climate and tough sponsorship calls considering everything that is happening in London this year, fundraising from both corporates and from within the community has been more challenging than ever. Despite creating a strong sponsorship base for this year's planned event, there is, in the week leading up to the 7th of July, still a shortfall.
As a result, we are returning to the roots of the original Pride London rallies. The 'parade' as we know it will now be a procession. It will cover the same route as planned, but with the exception that there will be no vehicles or floats participating.
So the gays will have to walk. In addition, World Pride events have been cancelled in Soho and proceedings will be cut short in Trafalgar Square - along with the extended licensing hours. But there is a bigger question here to ask; does the demise of gay pride in London tell us its goal of political and social acceptance has largely been achieved in UK? Have advertisers lost interest in the pink pound because we're not segregated in society anymore? Have we finally found homotopia? Or is this just a sign of the recession?
Gay Pride in London has been on a slippery slope after Labour's pink focused reign. The placard queers who fought for abolition of Section 28, equal age of consent, employment equality and legal recognition of our partnerships have achieved everything they fought for. We're now left without a fighting political agenda, and are faced with the reformation of Pride and a generation of young LGBT people who have grown up with reasonable equality.
Pride may not be fighting for anything but globally there is still a lot to fight for. Pride in London doesn't even celebrate the previous battles for equality waged by an older generation of queers. Gay pride in London has no spunk or drive, it is limp and frivolous when it should be passionate, caring, referential and progressive. It lacks a message that a community and sponsors can support, or even enthuse the next generation to have a sense of ownership...not to mention real pride. The idea of Pride is bizarre and bi-polar: "accept us because we're the same as you... but we're also different". The death of Pride is imminent.
Before I lead you to believe Pride Day is a day of nothingness, Pride London are planning making their 'voice heard' on the issue of decriminalising homosexuality with a modelling competition in Soho. I'm sure this sends a very strong message to the Ukraine who are currently making moves to make homosexuality illegal.
The modelling competition is, and I quote, "looking for someone more than just a great body, great look and great personality" - because we all know the decriminalisation of homosexuality across the globe will be fought by someone in Abercombe & Fitch with a six pack and pearly veneers.
I won't be attending Pride this year. I'm fine being a homosexual any day of the year. Gay is a lifestyle choice and like Pride I don't have the cash to fund it.
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