GT Weekender: Pride in London/Summer Rites
London showed some serious Pride at the weekend...
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Londontown was not only basking in glorious weather at the weekend, it was positively abuzz from the flag-waving, music-pumping, float-cheering, equality-marching showcase of inclusion and togetherness at this year’s Pride festival.
The atmosphere in the West End was absolutely electric, as London’s glittering gay ‘scene’, the wider community and a whole raft of businesses, charities and individuals descended on the capital for what was certainly the best Pride event in London for some time.
There seems to be a tradition of a small but vocal section of the LGBT community that like to complain to anyone who will listen about how Pride London isn't the event it should be, while simultaneously doing bugger all in the months leading up to it to actually help change it. With a new team heading up the organisation this year, the message of getting involved seems to have hit home much more effectively, and it was truly heartwarming to see people of all shapes, sizes, beliefs and colours celebrating together, highlighting what a diverse, vibrant, creative and passionate community we truly are.
London hasn't really attracted the huge stars on its main stage in recent years (NYC has Cher, for instance) but the reasons for that would be a whole article in itself. However, this year the maje 'slebs certainly weren’t necessary. This was a Pride by the community for the community, and the theme of ‘Love and Marriage’ certainly resonated with the current fight in the UK for true marriage equality. An expansive set of street closures on usually traffic-heavy roads and a variety of different arenas, such as cabaret and UK Black Pride, added to the ‘Pride Village’ feel.
Over in Shoreditch, East London flew the Pride flag with Summer Rites, an event that brought together the biggest names, faces and brands from the London party scene - arguably the biggest and best in the world.
A lorry load of big name DJs and performers entertained the crowds, with Atomic Kitten followed on stage by their devilishly delicious drag counterparts Queens of Pop, as a stunning Samantha Fox wowed everyone with her show-stopping, on point performance. Don’t call it a comeback, she’s been fabulous for years!
One of the interesting things about this year’s main event was that it truly catered for everyone. While the topless ravers had a sassy shimmy in Shoreditch Park, those looking for a less intense community vibe that’s still full of buzz could stay in Soho. Ok, you could argue this goes against the ‘inclusion and togetherness’ point of the event if you’re really persnickety, but we prefer to think of it as different sections of our vast community expressing Pride in the way they want to, while providing a chance to show we aren’t just confined to a few streets in the West End, rather that all of London can get involved.
Pride in London 2013 has shown us the event is still very much alive and relevant, hopefully providing a beacon of hope to those around the world where persecution just for being gay or transgender is still rife and, in some places, getting worse. LGBT London, you did yourselves proud!
Pride projects are still happening in London for a further two weeks. Check out the events here.
Words: Lee Dalloway (@Leeroydalvin)
Photo: Paul Brown/Demotix with thanks to Pride in London sponsors Ernst & Young