London hosted another free Pride party on Saturday 3 July. Although the streets of Soho were without stalls selling merchandise or memorabilia and the infamous Soho Square was no longer a main location for the dance stage - due to cross rail construction, the crowd – some sporting rainbow mohicans, gathered in Trafalgar Square, filling the space around the fountains and pillars and spilling onto the streets and walkways.
As the parade passed by, tourists and supporters alike lined the footway, waving cameras at the provocatively dressed participants. The observers were blowing their whistles and stamping their feet to the beats of the drums that boomed out from the many floats. Weary feet supported brightly dressed caricatures and exhibiters whose costumes and make-up encouraged laughter, smiles and a little curiosity.
As the parade made its final descent toward the Houses of Parliament, banners celebrating sexual diversity and promoting equality before the law were clearly visible for the politicians to read. The Liberal Democrats were out with full support and Broken Rainbow – who provide counselling services to same gendered domestic violence, carried their message on placards to ensure observers were up to date on the services they provide for the community. Transport for London took the opportunity to advertise their new hire cycles and London’s Ambulance Service followed close behind with their sirens and horns jamming along with the pounding beats.
Both Unite and Unison had strong representation with members participating in the procession and the creative use of a convertible bus. The London Fire Brigade decorated an engine with the symbolic rainbow flag and staff strolled alongside, reinforcing the service’s credentials as an equal opportunity employer. The Metropolitan Police ambled along casually while the British Army, Air Force and Navy demonstrated their skills of synchronicity with a structured march.
Although London’s Pride has been a main focal point for celebrating sexual diversity during this century, this accolade appears to be shifting towards the South coast, mainly Brighton. Set to take place on 7 August 2010, Brighton’s Pride has the advantage of being set in an expansive park with a range of activities and entertainment. Of course, one hopes that the importance of the call for equality is not lost among the exciting line up of acts, shows and provocateurs.