Some British blokes invited Queerty contributor Daniel Villarreal to walk in the London Pride parade over the weekend. He’s going to share part of his adventure with you for the tax write-off.
Even though I’m a proud Dallas native, I have to admit that our Pride parade ain’t all that. A thousand some-odd folks stand in the face-melting heat to watch a bunch of queers mosey down Dallas’ gay strip into the nearby park? It’s fun (especially if you’re a Christian protester), but it cannot hold a candle to London Pride’s supernovic brilliance. In fact, I’d wager a shilling that London Pride puts your city’s celebration to shame (and I’m not just saying that because they let me march at the front of the parade). After seeing it for myself, I figured out five ways that London Pride kicks your Pride’s ass… not that it’s a competition, ya slag.
OK, so blonde-mopped London mayor Boris Johnson once compared gay marriage to marrying a dog and supported a bill that would stop city councils from “promoting” homosexuality (ugh), but he cleared his schedule to march in the parade alongside London’s queer activists and kicked off the event saying that the British government should support gay marriage. Here are some comments he made just on the day of the event:
“I am pleased to support our city’s pride celebrations and proud of London’s reputation as a place where you can be yourself. From poet laureates to politicians and pop stars to rugby players, there’s an increasing confidence to be open about your sexuality. Nowhere is this more evident than in London, which is home to one of the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities in the world. Everybody has the right to live their life as they wish, free from persecution and abuse, and my office is working with the community, the police and other partners to ensure that, irrespective of sexuality, all Londoners are able to participate fully in the life of the capital.”
When was the last time your mayor went from comparing gays to bestiality to supporting your right to divorce?
And not only LGBT people, but lots of allies from local families, business, governments, and Britain’s outlying cities as well as straight folks just looking to party down with the queers. In Trafalgar Square the crowd stood about 15 deep from the barricade; a lot of them couldn’t even see the parade but stuck around anyway. And after the parade you couldn’t walk through the Soho streets without coming into contact with thousands of other LGBT folks from around the world. While waiting to meet a pal from China, I saw a certain Internet Stain and briefly considered asking him about Miley Cryus’ vagina. But I didn’t have my hazmat suit on me, so I steered clear.
A lot of local Prides employ police to keep the anti-gay religious nuts from pissing on our parades — and sometimes not even that — but only the London bobbies cage all the whack jobs in one small area so they can enjoy the parade while being mocked by its many participants. That way the haters can only spread their message of bigoted intolerance to a single street corner and we can take pictures of us mooning them or making out next to their vague, hard-to-read signs condemning queer love. Who are the caged animals now?
The parade route goes through Oxford Street and Regent street, the two highest trafficked and highest earning streets of London. That the city closes off these two roads just to celebrate Pride is amazing enough, but when you actually walk in the parade (as I did), you notice the historic and cultural significance of walking with a bunch of queers through London’s business district, Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, and past the National Gallery and Scotland Yard. Indeed, the city’s appreciation of its queer citizens amounts to much more than just a parade full of lip-service and advertising (even if the country’s equality minister is a homophobe).
Apart from the parade itself, the numerous community groups marching in it and the related art, cabaret, and cultural events across the city, London lights up both the National Theater and the London eye (the huge ferris wheel beside the Thames River) in rainbow colors. It’s kinda like when New York lights up the Empire State building for Pride, except that the London Eye and National Theater form a huge part of the London skyline. You can see them a long ways out. Even non-LGBTQAs must see the them and know what’s up. It’s no wonder the city got chosen to host 2012 World Pride right between the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Summer Olympic Games.