Celebrating LGBT rights at Pride in London 2014
The first Gay Pride event I ever attended was in San Francisco (where else?), over 10 years ago. Alfie and I took The Pea to the Castro, watched the parade, and celebrated with the community. Although my kids know we support marriage equality and LGBT rights (as do they!), we haven't been to a Gay Pride event since then. The hassle of parking and wading through the crowds has held me back. Also, as open-minded as I like to think I am, I must admit that I'm not quite ready to wander around booths filled with S&M gear and be handed free neon condoms in front of my kids' curious eyes.
But this weekend I had the opportunity to visit my sister in London and leave the kids with their grandparents for the weekend. Since my visit coincided with the Pride in London parade, I knew I couldn't pass up the chance to watch and celebrate!
Pride in London is a huge annual event that brings London's West End to a standstill. Over 20,000 people marched in this year's parade, and an estimated 300,000 lined the streets from Baker Street, Oxford Street, Picadilly Circus, Pall Mall, and Trafalgar Square, to watch the parade as it went by. The whole thing lasted over 3 hours!
Not even the rain could dampen people's enthusiam. People simply put up their umbrellas and carried on. When we got there, the crowd was 4 people deep, but we managed to find a spot where we could see. I even managed to take a few decent photos; fortunately, the umbrella in front of me had a rainbow pattern so I didn't mind having it in all my photos!
We had a great time seeing all the weird and wonderful outfits people wore to march in the parade.
But I enjoyed seeing regular people marching right alongside them! It was a great way to show everyone that LGBT aren't just about feathers and make-up, they are just like everyone else, and that straight people everywhere support LGBT rights.
There were quite a few religious organizations (from Christian to Jewish to Muslim) marching in the parade, showing their support for LGBT rights, along with groups from countries where homophobia is still rampant (India, Pakistan, Poland, etc..). Check out Rainbow Jesus! God loves everyone!
From time to time, a float or a bus would drive by, usually sponsored by an LGBT-friendly company like Google or Asda or Barclays.
We were especially proud of the Filipino LGBT community who marched in the parade. They had a whole contingent of drag queens, dressed to the nines in outfits inspired by Filipino myths, legends, and culture. In my unbiased opinion, they displayed the most enthusiastic spirit and the most flamboyant (dare I say it? yes, the most BONGGA! if there ever was an appropriate time to use that word, this would be it!) costumes. Check out this queen's headdress, representing the mythical Sarimanok bird from Mindanao, made entirely of pipe cleaners!
After the parade, we ran into the guy as we were wandering the streets of SoHo along with most of the people who attended or watched the parade. He was delighted to learn that we were Filipino, and even more delighted to join us for a photo.
I had a wonderful time! In restrospect, I would have brought the kids. The parade was completely family-friendly, with no nudity or overt sexual themes or free condoms or violent counter-protests. My sister tells me that there are groups who march in their S&M outfits as well as some cheeky Scotsmen who like to show the crowd what they (don't) wear under their kilts, but it doesn't sound like anything the kids haven't seen before at Bay to Breakers!