Pride Is a Protest. This Year, London Lived Up To That.

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07/03/2023

It can be tempting – when you see a colourful parade through central London of glitter and rainbow flags – to think of Pride as a party. In ways, it is. But marchers at London Pride this year were carrying a more sobering reality of queer rights today, edging the party closer to its origins: Angry, valiant protest. An estimated 30,000 people took to the streets on Saturday, including dancers, performers and a procession of floats. For many, the political context was at the forefront of their minds. It’s been a devastating year for trans people, with the cultural conversation on “gender issues” leading to a staggering rise in transphobic hate crime. This year’s official message of trans solidarity –“Never March Alone” – tinged the celebrations with a harder edge: Signs were angrier, more urgent. Chants were louder. Even the messaging on corporate floats gave shoutouts to trans inclusion. The political unrest in the country took centre stage over the afternoon: For the climate crisis, it appeared in the form of several Just Stop Oil protesters. Seven were arrested in the afternoon, after successfully disrupting the procession to call for a boycott of the event’s high-polluting sponsors. Activists from around the British Commonwealth were there to fight for justice in countries where being gay is still illegal. They stood together to hold up a powerful sign: “We are not criminals”. Others took the opportunity to speak up against the hateful rhetoric of refugees, including the government’s Rwanda policy. This, interspaced with live music, defiant dancing, iconic outfits – feels like what Pride is for.

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