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.



No thumbnail available

Landmark decision: Hong Kong court rules that transsexual woman can marry

After a five year battle, 'W' has won right to marry her boyfriend, lawyer calls judgment a 'resounding victory'
No thumbnail available

Malaysia police chief warns graduates of LGBT ‘threat’

National security police chief calls ‘LGBT culture’ extremist, in unabashedly politically motivated speech to graduates
No thumbnail available

Gay footballer Robbie Rogers reveals in memoir that he was a twin

'I don't know how I sensed it without anyone ever telling me'
No thumbnail available

Straight British politician calls gay MP 'homophobe'

Michael Fabricant and Chris Bryant got into an altercation over the gay blood ban
No thumbnail available

Ministry of Sound headphones are perfect for dodgy music

Save your embarrassment with Ministry of Sound's new headphone range
No thumbnail available

Gay skier slams Olympic committee for not supporting LGBTI athletes

‘The Olympic Committee had a huge responsibility in Sochi and they didn't stand up for human rights,’ says Anja Paerson
No thumbnail available

Claims Chick-fil-A will stop funding anti-gay groups

A Chicago advocacy group has said, after meetings with company executives, Chick-fil-A will stop donating money to anti-gay groups
No thumbnail available

Audra McDonald blasts Indiana for its new anti-gay religious freedom law

'Some in my band are gay & we have 2 gigs in your state next month. Should we call ahead to make sure the hotel accepts us all?'
No thumbnail available

A quick visit to Aachen

GSN catches the train to a part of Germany that is easy to love
No thumbnail available

WATCH: LGBT on agenda at Davos world business leader summit

Accenture, EY and HSBC leading conversation