March to ‘get back to roots of first Pride’

Veterans to retrace steps of historic Gay Liberation Front 1972 event

Friday, 1st July — By Tom Foot

Peter Tatchell Photo- wikimedia commons COLIN

Peter Tatchell

ORIGINAL Pride protesters from 50 years ago, who say the current celebrations have become “depoliticised and commercialised”, are leading an alternative march through Soho today (Friday).

Veterans of the Gay Liberation Front who organised the first UK Pride march in 1972 will assemble on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields church, Trafalgar Square, from 1pm.

They are planning to retrace the exact route of half-a-century ago, through Charing Cross Road and Oxford Street to Hyde Park. There will be no fees, registrations or wrist-bands.

They also plan to join the main “corporate-backed event” this year despite holding strong criticism of how it has been run.

“This 1972 veterans-led Pride march gets back to the roots of Pride, being both a celebration and a protest for LGBT+ rights, with demands for LGBT+ liberation in the UK and worldwide,” said activist Peter Tatchell who was one of 30 to organise the first event.

“Pride in London has become depoliticised and commercialised. The veterans’ march has no corporate sponsors and no police, arms manufacturers or fossil fuel companies. The Home Office and airlines that facilitate the deportation of LGBT+ refugees are not welcome and will not participate. We will put LGBT+ human rights centre stage.

“Unlike the official Pride in London, there is no limit on the number of people allowed to march. No one has to register, pay a fee, or get a wrist-band. Just turn up. We are holding a commemorative Pride march for the LGBT+ community, totally open, egalitarian, grass-roots, and human rights-focused. It mirrors the informality and spontaneity of the first Pride march in 1972.”

On Saturday, at the main Pride celebrations, the group plans to march ahead of the main parade down Park Lane despite holding reservations of restrictions that “see thousands of marchers turned away every year”.

This year, the official event has been criticised for some of its sponsors and the cost of tickets.

People can join the parade at any point on the route but there are also ticketed grandstands – costing between £50 and £60 – in Golden Square in Soho, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and in Dean Street.

Haven Thorn, a spokes-person for Pride in London, said: “With a multitude of challenges threatening our human rights, creating space to connect over our shared experiences and making our voices heard is particularly critical during Pride month when the LGBTQIA+ community is gathered together in solidarity.

“Our key focus this year is on visibility, unity, and equality for LGBTQ+ people, something we consider to be a fundamental human right; they always have been, and always will be.

“Pride creates powerful experiences that unite us in activism, in protest, in celebration and in advocacy.”

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