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London Pride will happen but only for a few veterans from 50 years ago

London Pride will happen but only for a few veterans from 50 years ago

  • Pride in London has cancelled for this year but veterans of the Gay Liberation Front will march all the same.
A GLF demo in August 1971.

Around 10 or 20 veterans will hold their own London Pride march this month to mark 50th anniversary of the start of the modern LGBT+ rights movement in the UK.

It will be the smallest Pride march in London’s history but also one of the most moving. All those taking part will be veterans of the London Gay Liberation Front (GLF) or their helpers.

Pride in London officially cancelled earlier this year, after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the risk of coronavirus and many of the marchers being over 70, the veterans have decided it’s worth the risk.

They want to mark anniversary of the Gay Liberation Front’s birth in 1970. But they have also vowed to carry Black Lives Matter placards to show their solidarity.

Meanwhile, organizer Peter Tatchell also told GSN that they also support the idea of an LGBT+ Black Lives Matter march in London. Similar marches took place across the US and beyond this weekend.

Tatchell said: ‘Homophobia did not defeat us, so we’re not going to let the COVID-19 pandemic stop Pride.’

Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

Activists founded the GLF in 1970, one year after the Stonewall riots in New York. The organization spearheaded the modern LGBT+ movement in the UK.

Tatchell said: ‘We GLF veterans confronted anti-LGBT+ bigots 50 years ago. We faced down police harassment, far right extremists and homophobic political and religious leaders.

“GLF did not seek equal rights within a flawed, unjust status quo. It campaigned for the transformation of society to end straight supremacism and stood in solidarity with all other oppressed communities.

‘This same agenda of radical social transformation is needed now as the UK faces the quadruple whammy of Covid-19, economic meltdown, endemic racism and climate destruction.’

In particular, the veterans are keen to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

This is also part of their history.

The GLF was the only non-black organization to protest outside the 1971 trial of the Mangrove Nine. The group of British black activists stood trial for causing a riot. But the court acquitted them of the most serious charges in a case that exposed racial hatred within the police.

Tatchell says he expects some GLF veterans of color to join the march.

And he told GSN: ‘As well as this Pride march all us GLF veterans would like to see an LGBT+ Black Lives Matter march to stand in solidarity with black communities and with black LGBT+ people.’

Few veterans left

Organizers hope to keep the anniversary march on 27 June safe with social distancing and face masks.

The small numbers involved will also help. Sadly, many GLF members have passed away, so only 10 to 20 will likely join in, along with a few helpers. They are restricting the march to the veterans, rather than inviting others to join them.

Tatchell was also one of about 40 people who helped organise the UK’s first Pride march in London in 1972. He has attended every Pride London parade since then. This will be his 49th.

He said: ‘For those of us who were involved in the Gay Liberation Front that began the modern LGBT+ rights movement in Britain, it’s really important that Pride goes ahead and that we remember this important 50th anniversary.’

The march will start at 1pm on 27 June outside the BBC, in Portland Place, London.