The highlight of the Pride in London festival took place today with the annual parade through the center of the city. It’s the 45th time Brits have marched to show pride in their sexuality and gender identity.
The UK capital has endured two terror attacks in recent months and a horrific tower block fire that left 80+ dead. In acknowledgement of this, this year’s parade officially honored the capital’s emergency services.
Representatives of the Fire and Rescue Service, Metropolitan Police and Ambulance Service led the parade. They lined up longside the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councilor Ian Adams, Justine Greening MP, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (pictured below posing for a selfie with a member of the public).
Mayor of London
‘One of the reasons why we are the greatest city in the world is because of LGBT Londoners contributing economically, socially and culturally, but also the LGBT+ community work in our emergency services,’ Khan told GSN just before the start of the parade.
‘Police, fire, the NHS … it’s really important to celebrate the fact that over the last few weeks there have terrorist attacks, there has been the awful fire at Grenfell Tower, the emergency services have been running towards danger, making sure others are kept safe.
‘We should say thank you to them for the huge roles they have played, not just making sure today is successful and safe, but the whole year around, making sure that we’re safe.’
Below: The Lord Mayor of Westminster (right) and partner, Christopher (left)
Love Happens Here
This year’s parade had the theme Love Happens Here. This was inspired by the fact that 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in England. Organizers say they wanted to send a message out to those parts of the world where being gay remains a crime.
After the emergency services, flag bearers carried flags from around the world, including those countries that still criminalize same-sex activity.
Under 26C (79F) sunshine, the parade took a slightly shorter route this year. It began in Portland Place, near the BBC headquarters, before making its way via Oxford Circus to Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus and on to Whitehall.
Each year, more and more businesses and corporates seem to want to get involved, and it was hard to miss the rainbow branding in stores such as Top Shop and Starbucks, while the like of Barclays (with Tom Daley aboard its float), John Lewis and Tesco stood out among the floats.
This year’s parade had around 350 groups and 80 floats. Perhaps wishing to stymie criticism from some of it appearing too corporate, Pride in London organizers were keen to point out that over 60% of parade groups were non-profit and community groups. An estimated 26,500 took part in the parade, with many more watching it as it passed through the West End.
After dispersal in Whitehall, festivities continued with main stage entertainment in Trafalgar Square from the likes of X Factor entrant Saara Aalto, and on the packed streets of Soho.
This year, for the first time ever, Soho had a pop-up shop open for two weeks on Broadwick Street, Soho. It was here that GayStarNews gave away 5,000 of its limited-edition, collectable Pride tote bags. These included goodies such as rainbow-branded Snickers bars.
Festivities will conclude tomorrow with the UK Black Pride free festival in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens – not to mention Pride parties in dozens of LGBTI venues across the city this evening.
Check out more images from Pride in London below
Fans of Pride in London…
The statue of Eros, Piccadilly Circus
The Royal Navy march through Piccadilly Circus
Rainbow garlands proved popular
‘We’re not in Kansas anymore…’
London Titans football team
Cute couple from Croydon
Many faiths were represented
For many, Pride is a family affair
The sunshine prompted some interesting fashion choices…
Rainbow make-up was everywhere
The summer heat must have proved particularly testing for some participants…
Marching with a message
Police receive a glam glitter makeover at a local Starbucks on the route
Images: David Hudson and Scott Nunn