When we talk about Pride in London, we generally refer to the annual Pride march, which will take place this Saturday, July 6 along with many Pride parties across the capital on the same day – and pride marches in other British cities and all over the world.
Started following the Stonewall riots in 1969, this celebration of LGBTQIA+ identities, history and achievements throughout the years, means different things to different people.
For some, it is the opportunity to take to the streets and celebrate self-awareness and achievements. For others, it represents a period of reflection on how far the LGBTQIA+ community has come and how far we still have to go.
2019 marks the year of Jubilee Pride, 50 years after the events that became a milestone for the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights and recognition.
When did it start?
On 28th June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Located in the centre of the Greenwich Village, the bar had become accustomed to hostility from law enforcement. On that day, around 200 customers were forced out of the venue onto the streets, but this time they reacted to the officers.
At the time, sexual acts between two men or two women were illegal in every US state apart from Illinois. In New York, thousands were arrested each year for “crimes against nature” and coming out as gay could cost a person their licence in law and medicine.
The Stonewall riots were not the beginning of the LGBTQIA+ rights movement, but their impact was felt across the western world, galvanising a generation to fight for change. It was a moment that changed the course of history and showed the power that comes when people stand together for equality and rights.
"Many of those people at the uprising were part of groups who continue to exist at the margins of our community, and for whom Pride is not yet a celebration but an act of defiance. We owe it to those who came before us to take on Pride’s spirit of protest to redouble our efforts to make the world a better place for every LGBTQI+ person." - Ruth Hunt CEO, Stonewall
The first Pride weekend took place in New York in 1969. London got involved two years later, when a group of around 200 activists from the UK branch of the Gay Liberation Front marched on central London and the first official London Pride was held in 1972, with 2,000 people in attendance.
In 2018 just in London, 1 million people took part in the parade.
Is it still important to celebrate Pride after 50 years from the Stonewall uprising, then?
The answer is: Yes.
While in the UK - and other European countries - same-sex marriages have been legalised and adoptions have been opened to same-sex couples, but there is still a lot of work to do on equality, inclusion and rights in many countries; where LGBTQIA+ people still suffer persecutions, prejudice and violence.
Every year ILGA Europe examines the advances made by each country on matters of equality, rights, hate speech, legal gender recognition, civil society and asylum.
CAN Mezzanine hosts 2 among the charities that restlessly work on helping LGBTQIA+ refugees and asylum seekers:
" LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers and refugees are victims of persecution and violence because of their sexual or gender identity or intersex status. They come from countries such as Algeria, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda and Zimbabwe where homo/transsexuality is criminalised. They have been subjected to harassment, imprisonment, forced marriage, rape, trafficking, gender-based and sexuality-based violence, and domestic violence.
In the UK, the stress of reliving their traumatic experiences whilst claiming asylum, together with the discrimination they experience as refugees, has increased their low self-esteem and lack of confidence.
LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers and refugees continue to suffer from the trauma caused by their experiences in their home countries, as well as face additional challenges in the UK.
One of these challenges is homelessness. LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers are often not safe when placed in housing with people from their home countries, or those people whose religious and cultural backgrounds hold extreme homophobic and transphobic views. They often prefer homelessness to face this violence which exposes them to further situations of abuse and violence.
This is why Micro Rainbow’s safe housing project is so critical. In Micro Rainbow’s experience, the abuse that LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers face in accommodation pushes many to become homeless at a point in life when they need as much support as possible to secure their right to stay in the UK and be safe. This innovative project has the support of the Home Office and we look forward to engaging with them even further to ensure the safety of LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers."
"The UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) supports LGBTQIA+ people through the asylum and immigration process. Their vision is a world where there is equality, dignity, respect and safety for all people in the expression of their sexual or gender identity.
UKLGIG provide psychosocial and emotional support for LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers to help improve their mental health and reduce isolation, legal information and advice. In addition, they advocate for improved policies and decision-making by governments in LGBTQIA+ asylum claims.
70 countries criminalise consensual same-sex activity. In eleven of these, the death penalty can apply.
The persecution experienced by LGBQTIA+ people goes well beyond any official prosecutions. The violence, humiliation, inequality and discrimination many LGBTQIA+ people face can be enacted by state officials but also by family and community members without any protection from the police. UKLGIG assists LGBTQIA+ people seeking a haven from persecution."
Although we have come so far in the UK, there is still so much more to do.
Pride events help remind us all that although we can and should be proud of our sexuality and gender identity, there is still so much work to be done until all LGBTIA+ people are accepted and respected without exception.
Take part in the Pride Jubilee in London this year
The 2019 London Pride parade starts at 1200 from Portland Place and finishes in Whitehall at around 1630.
Trafalgar Square will host a stage with live entertainment alongside food, drink, information, exhibitor and community stalls.
This year there will also be events in the following areas:
Leicester Square - Women's stage
Golden Square - World area
St Giles in the Field Church (Camden) - Family area
Dean Street - Cabaret stage
Archer Street - Tea party
This year's Pride theme is #PrideJubilee
To check the events that will be held all over London, please click here