02/07/2013 08:46 BST | Updated 30/08/2013 06:12 BST

Overblown Hedonism


Start of Black and London Pride, support for the Russian LGBT community

On Saturday 29th June, London celebrated its 25th Pride Parade. On the eve of the event, Ivan Massow (past Chairman of London's Institute of Contemporary Art) wrote an article in the Evening Standard, bemoaning the contemporary gay scene as being: "...obsessed with drugs [.] Obsessed with sex. Unable to take responsibility for its part in the spread of HIV. Inhabiting a soulless and empty world of hedonism." ("This new gay hedonism is not what I fought for.")


Delegations from Uganda and Turkey on the march

Massow is a long-standing gay activist, but in his article, he generalised the behaviour of some, as though it were the behaviour of the many. For example, he described the scene in terms of the behaviour of clubbers in Vauxhall, south London. Its core feature is a series of dance clubs which open and close in sequence over the course of the weekend. Clubbers use drugs to stay awake for the complete circuit; a prospect unlikely to appeal to most lesbian mums, or gay men for that matter. He seems to have forgotten that women, trans and older male members of the community hardly attend. Women make up 50% of the LGBT community if not the scene and there are few bars for women only, who (due to wage disparity) have on the whole less to spend (and maybe better things to do). Generalising an entire community in this way is simply unhelpful. Not that this means we should avoid difficult issues or self-criticism (Massow is surely right to be critical of the impact of drugs, sex addiction and bare back sex) but these issues are best addressed accurately, so that education can be focused where it is most required.


Old Compton Street, partners Louise and Lalinca

The Pride march exhibits all the variety and diversity that makes up the contemporary LGBT community: political activists (like Peter Tatchell, co-founder of OutRage!, carrying placards protesting the behaviour of Vladimir Putin); trades unions and political groups; LGBT sports, music and naturalist clubs; every public service (including the British Army, marching in wool uniforms on a hot summer day); all the major religious confessions (including Muslims, who got a big cheer); all the ethnicities that make London such an exciting place to live; same-sex family groups and their supporters; and plenty of others. I don't know how many of those who marched spend their weekends on drug-and-sex-benders, but I suspect it's a firm minority.


Sporty types after the March: London Titans footballers and Front runners

Massow said that "In fact, as many thousands prepare to descend on central London this weekend, I am finding it difficult to be proud." I couldn't disagree more. The party spilled over into Soho and Trafalgar Square, and there may have been too much drinking (although it was a party), and too much trash (although, to be fair, there weren't many bins), it remains a wonderful event, showing a truer face of our community.


Happy family: Jander, Damm, Olive Partners: Alex, Ian


Straight Allies: Will, Sam, Laura and Jenna

The last image, which is a cropped, depicts four young women of Afro-Caribbean heritage who while out to each other, were not out to their families. That should remind everyone that the march is not over, here or in Uganda, America, Russia or in so many other countries, and yet we have so much to be proud of.