Words: Alastair James; pictures: Peter Tatchell, and London's first Pride march, which took place in 1972 (Pixabay/wiki)
Pride in London has postponed its official march to 11 September, but Tatchell says there should be one in June or July that’s free of commercial sponsors and instead organised by grassroots organisations.
The proposed new march would follow the normal Pride route, passing 10 Downing Street and end in Parliament Square with a mass “Queer Picnic”, where people bring their own food, drink, and music.
“This is a perfect opportunity to show that an alternative way of organising pride”
Tatchell told Attitude: “It’s hugely disappointing that Pride has been postponed to September, and there are even some doubts whether it will happen at all. In these circumstances, I think we should go ahead with a march around the end of June or early July as usual."
He argues that Pride has become “depoliticised” and corporate sponsors should be ditched in favour of a march similar to the first Pride march in 1972, which he helped organise.
Peter Tatchell after the first Pride march in 1972. (Picture: Peter Tatchell)
He says the march needs to be framed as an “LGBT+ rights march” and wouldn’t cost anything.
“This is a perfect opportunity to show that an alternative way of organising Pride is practical, achievable and fabulous," he said.
“We can organise it on the same low-cost no-frills basis as marches in support of the NHS. They don’t cost a penny. The organisers don’t have to pay Westminster [City Council], the police or the Greater London Authority.”
Protestors at a Gay Liberation Front march in London in 1970 (Picture: Wiki)
“Commercialisation and depoliticisation have gone too far. Pride should be a way of profiling our ongoing demands for LGBT+ rights. Pride began as a community celebration and protest. Now it’s become more of a corporate fest targeting LGBT+ people as consumers. It’s lost its way.
“I want to reclaim Pride and get back to its original roots.”
Tatchell also says by taking the march by Downing Street, people would be able to vent their anger at the government.
“At a time when the government is roadblocking LGBT+ reforms like banning conversion therapy and reforming the gender recognition act this alternative Pride should be both a celebration and a protest.”
“Pride needs to reclaim its place as a protest”
Tatchell also points to the march walked by veterans of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) last June following the cancellation of Pride in London as proof the idea can work. The march marked the 50th anniversary of the GLF.
Tatchell says he wants to start a discussion within the LGBTQ community.
“It’s long overdue for our community to discuss and rethink what we want Pride to be," he said. "The organisers [Pride in London] have done great work but for a long time they haven’t been listening to community concerns about the direction of Pride. Proposals for a rethink have been made repeatedly only to be ignored."
The idea has been welcomed by some on social media, with one person tweeting it was an “amazing” idea.
That would be amazing ✊🌈— Andi (@Transadelika) May 14, 2021
Another person says, “Pride needs to reclaim its place as a protest.”
Pride needs to reclaim its place as a protest . The current government has undermined LGBT at every point - when do we get to debate straight rights?— Michael of The North. (@Michael37615957) May 14, 2021
Pride in London has been approached for comment.