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Come rain or shine, London fights back with Gay Pride

Come rain or shine, London fights back with Gay Pride

Defiant against torrential rain and recent homophobic attacks, London has put on one of the biggest and best Gay Prides in years.

With an estimated half a million LGBTI people and their allies braving the summer downpour, the UK capital marched to fight for freedom today (28 June).

The British capital is celebrating a few months after the first gay couples have got married in England and Wales, with Scotland not too far behind.

But the plight of LGBTI people elsewhere in the world, especially in Russia and some African countries, was on the mind of all the activists and revellers.

Ian McKellen, legendary actor and veteran gay rights activist, was there as one of the founders of Stonewall.

Speaking to Gay Star News, he said: ‘I’m of the generation when Pride marches were a difficult thing to be on.

‘We have done so much in a quarter of a century and then you can see from the young people here today that so many of them still care.

‘It’s wonderful that the future is probably secure in this country but beyond is another matter.

‘I think everyone will be thinking of places where you can’t march, and where you can’t be on a Pride.’

Ruth Hunt, Acting Chief Executive of Stonewall, told us despite the rain, the atmosphere was like an ‘amazing carnival’.

‘At Stonewall, we just really believe that Pride is such a strong, visible sign that the community is vibrant and beautiful and diverse. And it’s an amazing statement that the fact that we’re here,’ she said.

‘We must never get complacent. All the rights that we have achieved, not everybody has good feelings about gay people. We must be aware of that.’

Joining the headline sponsors Barclays were representatives from several groups, from the NHS to Nigeria.

Along the way, GSN was handing out thousands of Jean Paul Gaultier-designed goody bags with freebies and special offers.

Divine Zake, with the London Fire Brigade, said Pride ‘means a lot to all of us, now you can have a same-sex marriage’.

‘We’re here to be who we are,’ she said. ‘It is all about freedom to save lives.’

Peter Tatchell, veteran gay rights activist, was walking on crutches but still marched through the streets of London. He said despite the rain, the ‘spirit is strong’ across the capital.

‘I helped organize the first Gay Pride parade in Britain that took place in 1972, and I’ve been to every single one since, and there’s no way I’m missing out,’ he told GSN.

‘It’s important that even though we’ve made great progress in Britain, in several countries in the world people are suffering severe persecution. In many countries, homosexuality is punishable with imprisonment and execution. That is why we are all here.’

Elly Barnes, founder of Educate and Celebrate, told us: ‘Until we change hearts and minds, then Pride will always be a protest. We might think we have all the legislation we need, but the word on the street is not that.

‘I go to schools everyday and I get homophobic comments, transphobic comments, biphobic, I hear that everyday. We haven’t eradicated that and until we change hearts and minds, that won’t change.’

‘London is a very, very diverse city, much like most cities. It’s all about working together as a community…

‘If we treat everybody equally and fairly, rather than having a say over another group, then life would be amazing for everybody.’

Check out GSN’s favorite 14 pictures we took from Pride in London 2014: