Lost in Time, Like Queers in the Rain

Gay Pride is an annual event, where gay people march in the street to feel solidarity and stick two fingers at those who pretend they don't exist or wish they didn't. There are versions now in most of the countries of the world, including some where there are only a few hundred incredibly brave people who defy hostile crowds. In England it's been going for 35 years,

Until around 1990 it was a highly political event, then it metamorphosed into "Pride", extended its range to cover transsexuals and others who define their sexuality or gender differently, and began the transition from charged political rally to corporate sponsored disco.

How neutered has it become? Well, this year it happened to fall on the same day as the season finale of Doctor Who - a science fiction kids TV show long beloved of gay men, for slightly mysterious reasons.

The organisers were terrified that tens of thousands of gay men would stay at home to watch it, rather than march through the streets to assert their right to exist and then have a free open air party.

So they did a deal with the BBC, and had the finale shown on the big screen in Trafalgar Square.

The mandarins of the Respect party decided Pride could use an injection of real politics. Or to put it another way, they're planning to stand candidates in London at the next election, and could do with the gay vote.

Either way, the call went out from head office that homosexual Respect members (and indeed non-homosexual ones) should get to Pride, and make themselves visible, waving flags and banners.

Simon M and myself, being the two uncomplicatedly gay branch members, were delegated - me somewhat grudgingly.

It started raining as I walked (sans coat) to the station. It rained on the train as it trundled to Waterloo. It rained on the Respect float, not exactly overfilled with eighteen of us.

Truly, it rained on our parade. But we didn't care, because we're queens, and we could have a good time on Jupiter if we wanted.

Next to our float, the GLADD - Gay and Lesbian Association of Doctors and Dentists. Just behind, the Dynamo Dykes - a lesbian volleyball team, actually playing volleyball as they followed. And running around, the London Fruitrunners - the fruity section of the London Frontrunners, a marathon club.

The majority of the participants in a parade are those who line the streets cheering, and there was no shortage of these. There were the obviously gay muscle marys, couples holding hands and dancing boychavs. But also families, children, and cafe or bank workers who'd stepped out of their place of employment to stand and watch in their work clothes for a few minutes.

A few onlookers dressed "appropriately" in sequined lycra with pink feather boas, or in shiny fantasy military uniforms. One was made up as Wonder Woman, looking not quite as butch as the original. Many were waving pink Union Jacks, a curious blend of subversion and patriotism.

There were two embarrassed men holding pieces of paper saying "I am Hetero" and "So am I". They cringed when I shouted "Don't believe you!".

No march would be complete without a counter demonstration. At the end of the route there was the National Front, giving Nazi salutes next to a banner saying "Outlaw Homosexual Marriage". A total of five hate-twisted men in their fifties, standing well back from the torrent of abuse.

Actually, two of them were giving Black Power salutes, but no one seemed inclined to point out the difference.

And next to the neo-nazis, the pseudo-christians. Twenty god-foamers, safe behind their own little barricade and almost invisible behind their umbrellas and bible-quoting placards, trying to persuade us through a megaphone that we were the unhappy ones.

In Nelson's Square, the mayor gave a speech about resisting oppression around the world...before giving way to a largely apolitical evening, with performances from Scissor Sisters, Graham Norton, The Sheilas (don't ask), and a white gay rap act. I remember ten years ago when "homo-hop" was a bizarre backwater of the hip-hop scene - now it's breaking through.

Trawling (or trolling) around the stalls in the omnipresent precipitation, the Labour party sat happily next to the Green Party, Barclay's Bank...and an SM/bondage stall staffed by men in chains and rubber shorts. The 911-truther's stall nestled next to an ice cream manufacturer giving away free samples, and an IT firm of three middle eastern men who design websites specifically for gay people.

So that was London Pride 2007 - Camp and damp.


  1. In case anyone's interested, I recently posted about gay marriage and it can be found at http://bubbasoundsoff.com/2007/06/24/deflating-dobsons-rhetoric/


  2. You've got to be joking about that Doctor Who bit. Seriously, DVRs people...

    (says the person that sees that show many moons later)

  3. It's all true - catching the premiere showing of a Doctor Who episode is a big thing here.

    Though, having just seen the season finale for the first time, I don't think I'll bother watching it ever again. I just thought it was seriously, really crap.

    Not that I want to put you off. You make your own evaluation.

  4. Quoting Bladerunner & The Doors consecutively? That's pretty good going, really.

    The best thing perhaps, would have been to stay at home to watch the Dr Who finale, rather than truding to a damp squib of an event in Cetnral London, just to watch it on a giant screen.