Pride London must remain a community event

Trade union officer and LGBT activist Peter Purton examines how Pride London can prosper while remaining true to its roots

Pride London must remain a community event
05 September 2012

The latest episode in the post-World Pride saga takes place at Congress House in London, the headquarters of the British trade unions, on 5 September.

World Pride 2012 was in London as the UK capital celebrated its Olympic year and its organisers and sponsors meant it to be something to make every LGBT person proud. But there were sudden cutbacks and restrictions of the program introduced in the final week.

The event took place, but in reduced format, on 7 July with hundreds of thousands involved in some way. But the headlines were dominated by rows over who was responsible for the problems, rather than focusing on the intended goal: to highlight the continuing oppression of LGBT people around the world.

Two public meetings were held in the days that followed to review the problems and plan for the future: one organized at (and with the help of) Heaven, the popular gay club in central London, by Gar Star News, and before that, a meeting organized by the TUC (Trades Union Congress) attended by many LGBT community activists. Many people attended both.

The meeting at Congress House reached consensus on some key principles that should shape future Prides: free to all, inclusive of all, with a campaigning edge – and community-led. Some of these have been standard for years, but not always fully achieved in practice (for example, full access for disabled LGBTs). Some of these principles beg other questions. What does ‘community led’ actually mean? We have a very diverse ‘community’ and some groups have long complained about not being heard.

Being free requires big financial backing, and big money has strings attached. We need to ensure that Pride does not become an advertising hoarding, that it remains an assertion of our identity and a reminder of our continuing struggle for equality, and that it does not silence political demands in order to please sponsors or politicians.

The team that runs Pride London 2013 will therefore need a mix of skills; but this is not enough. It will also need the confidence of the many different sections of our communities that it is capable of delivering. This is a big ask. There are certainly plenty of individuals in our community with these skills. The most difficult question is: how will our community keep them accountable for their actions?

It’s been rumored that the trade unions are trying a take-over of pride. Nothing could be further from the truth. LGBT trade unionists are part of the community and expect a say in how pride is run. Far from being a threat, trade unions have contributed hundreds of thousands of pounds of sponsorship over the last 10 years.

Our purpose is to create a pride that reflects the principles already mentioned. We don’t want a pride that you have to pay to get into, because this will exclude people. We don’t want a pride that will pretend that all is well with the world, because that would deny where we have come from and the reality of many LGBT lives. We do believe there is space for all parts of the community to be part of pride, we do want to celebrate our achievements, but not at any cost. We will work for this and support others who believe the same, but we are not interested in trying to run it ourselves.

There is a meeting at Congress House, London WC1B 3LS, at 6.30pm today (5 September) for community representatives to try to reach consensus on a common position to take into the Pride London annual general meeting.

Peter Purton has been a life-long LGBT rights activist and has been the TUC’s LGBT policy officer since 1998.



Survey: One third of young Americans say they aren't 100% straight

Survey: One third of young Americans say they aren't 100% straight

'A large number of Americans who classify themselves as heterosexual still admit to having had same sex experiences'
No thumbnail available

Cisgender added to Oxford English Dictionary

Gender term joins 'sext', 'twerk' and 'hot mess' in the OED
No thumbnail available

Male grooming and holistic therapies from the specialists at MSH

Gay Star News’ Matt Horwood reviews his first ever facial and massage at MSH in Angel, north London
No thumbnail available

Adam Lambert likes what is happening these days on American Idol

Season 8 runner-up returns this week as mentor and says 'show is doing a really good job this year of revamping'
No thumbnail available

Man finds out brother is gay on Reddit. It could have been awkward, but it wasn’t

Giving someone your username to a social news website might not be the best idea if you're closeted, but thankfully it didn't end badly...
No thumbnail available

Louganis, Navratilova and 50 Olympians sign petition against Russia's anti-gay laws

50 Olympians past and present have signed a global petition calling on Russia to stop its crack down on LGBT people that is fueling anti-gay violence in the country
No thumbnail available

Focus shifts to South Australia in marriage equality fight

Australian campaigners for marriage equality are hopeful that South Australia will become the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage after a bill was voted down in the state of Tasmania
No thumbnail available

Cate Blanchett lesbian love story 'Carol' wins Queer Palm at Cannes

A special mention was given to ‘The Lobster’, an eccentric fable starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz about lovers who risk being turned into animals if they fail to find a partner
No thumbnail available

Catholic leader urges all faiths to unite against gay marriage

Pope representative Archbishop Antonio Mennini has attacked government plans to legalise civil marriage for same-sex couples
Herve Leger fashion executive fired after saying the brand not suited to lesbians

Herve Leger fashion executive fired after saying the brand not suited to lesbians

He also said that older women and the 'flat-chested' should not wear some of the brand’s designs