Given this year's usual London Pride festivities have been cancelled due to Covid-19, celebrations are set to be very different. But that doesn't mean there won't be any celebrating at all, of course. Whether it's a socially distant get together with friends or a virtual Pride party, here's what you need to know about Pride this year (as well as some useful history, in case you were wondering).
What is Pride?
Pride is an annual celebration of the achievements of LGBTQ+ rights - so far. LGBTQ+ includes: lesbians, gay people, bisexuals, trans* people, queer people, intersex people, agender and asexual people - basically anyone who isn’t the cookie-cutter ideal of a straight, cis - that means someone whose gender matched their sex they were assigned at birth - man, attracted exclusively to straight, cis women, and vice versa.
It’s a lot less segmented as it sounds, especially with more and more people identifying as sexually fluid. People at Pride don’t necessarily wear great big badges saying exactly how they identify, but the idea is they consider themselves somehow involved in and affected by the LGBTQ+ rights movement.
Pride is always much more than just a parade and a street party and an excuse to get wildly day-drunk, though. It’s a protest.
Where did Pride parades start?
In late 1960s New York, there weren’t many places that LGBTQ+ people could go out and meet with one another. The average bar, club or restaurant would be hostile to LGBTQ+ people, and many proprietors didn’t want to take their money. The people who were happy with LGBTQ+ money, though, were the Mafia. They ran The Stonewall Inn, which welcomed not only LGBTQ+ people, but some of the poorest and most marginalised members of the community. One warm June evening - incidentally, the day after gay icon Judy Garland’s funeral - police raided The Stonewall Inn.
This was a routine thing, where bars with LGBT+ people would be raided by police apparently looking for bootleg liquor. Usually this was just a cover to arrest LGBT+ people for simply…being. They would also normally tip off staff at the Stonewall, but employees said that, that night, they hadn’t been alered.
Normally - how shameful that raids on people simply drinking in one of the few places they felt safe being ‘out’ became normal - the police could control everything, chuck all the patrons into wagons and send them off to the nearest station to be held in cells overnight. But this time, the clientele resisted. People began gathering outside, heckling the police, and soon began fighting them. What followed were three days of riots, and the beginning of a brand new, strident part of the LGBTQ+ rights movement. Each year, June 28th, if not the entire month, is commemorated by LGBTQ+ people and their allies.
Is Pride just a parade?
Well, no. But on Pride day - which changes depending on location, but it’s always sometime around the summer, at least in that country’s summer - there is a parade, followed by street parties or events at clubs and pubs. Many places also have a mini-festival to celebrate Pride. Of course, this year those celebrations will be virtual - but no less necessary.
Who usually walks in a Pride parade?
As well as a bunch of corporate sponsors who assist in making the entire parade possible, there are: unions, charities, professional networks, kink groups, activists, political parties…the idea is that everyone is welcome. Sometimes that’s caused problems, and UKIP have been banned from the march (funnily enough, too many LGBTQ+ people who believe immigrants are wholly homophobic are really keen to support UKIP!) as a result.
Heartwarmingly, a lot of straight miners will march for the LGBTQ+ community, behind their beautiful banners. This is because, in the 1980s, when the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was threatening to close the mines (she eventually did), the LGBTQ+ community rallied around them, holding fundraisers for their cause. There’s a whole film about it, called…Pride!
What are the world’s biggest Pride festivals?
Depends what you mean by ‘big’. The ones with the most attendees in the last few years have been:
Madrid, 2017 - 3,000,000
Houston, 2016 - 750,000 +
Chicago, 2016 - 1,000,000
London, 2015 - 1,000,000+
Houston, 2015 - 700,000
San Francisco, 2014 - 1,700,000
Cologne, 2013 - 1,000,000
Madrid 2012, 1,200,000
Berlin, 2012 - 700,000
Rome, 2011 - 1,000,000
But the fact there are Prides in some countries that can otherwise contain homophobia and transphobia is pretty big too.
Cape Town Pride
This one takes place in South Africa, where ‘corrective rape’ is routinely done to lesbians and gay men are sexually assaulted for similar reasons.
49% of Serbs believe that being LGBT+ is a disease, and in 2010 there were homophobic riots sparked by Pride. But Pride continues there, and this year it celebrated the election of Ana Brnabic, who is not only the first female Prime Minister of Serbia, but its first lesbian Prime Minister!
In 2014 the Ugandan government tried to introduce the death penalty for homosexuality, and this lead to a spike in persecution of LGBT+ people. Gay men were outed on the front pages of newspapers, in the knowledge that people would attack these innocents. Yet still, despite police’s best efforts, the LGBT+ community still put on a series of Pride events.
LGBT+ ‘propaganda’ is illegal there, effectively driving any Pride events underground. In 2013, Copenhagen very sweetly dedicated its Pride to Russian LGBT+ people.
Honduras has a very high murder rate - 60 per 100,000, but it also has the highest rate of trans murders per capita, yet brave activists still hold a pride there...
With that in mind, if you want to support the LGBT+ community both here and afar, by all means, respectfully head along to Pride. As long as you don’t make it about you, your allyship will be welcome. Here’s how:
How can I celebrate Pride this year?
While the London Pride parade might be cancelled, there are tons of virtual celebrations. London Pride is hosting a livestream tomorrow from midday. Then there's Mariah & Friendz Virtual Pride on Saturday where performance troupe Mariah & Friendz will livestream a drag show pre-record at their natural stomping ground – Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club.
The show will be hosted by Crystal, star of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, and Baby Lame. Tickets are £10, including a £3 donation to the Colours Youth Network. Starting from 8pm, a streaming of film link will be emailed to ticket buyers on the day of the event.
Plus, there's [Defected’s https://defected.com/ttps://defected.com/) hosted by sister label Glitterbox. The Glitterbox x Pride event, programmed in collaboration with Brighton Pride and New York nightclub House Of Yes, will feature DJ sets from The Shapeshifters featuring Billy Porter, Horse Meat Disco, Fat Tony, Late Nite Tuff Guy and more. It's streaming live from 5pm-10pm tonight on Twitch.
If you want something more lowkey, visit Pride Inside with Royal Museums Greenwich. The Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG) will host a weekend of Pride Inside online events pioneered by Amnesty International, UK Black Pride, Stonewall and ParaPride. Pride Inside will feature online performances, the chance to design a Pride ship and join a virtual parade, and the exploration of queer stories in the RMG collection.
Or how about taking part in the Regent Street x GAY TIMES event 'Celebrate Memories of Pride'. On Saturday, they join forces to launch a digital community gallery initiative to capture the spirit of Pride, connecting the LGBTQ+ community and allies through personal memories, images and the ever important history of the parade. To enter, visit gaytimes.co.uk/memoriesofpride and submit your memories, images and other stories to be considered for inclusion in the gallery, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.