London Pride 2018

By Tabetha Baldwin; Photography by K Khatiri

This past weekend saw us once again digging out our rainbow flags and coating ourselves in copious amounts of glitter for the now highly anticipated London Pride Festival. Almost a million people ‘came out' to witness the Pride Parade, with floats and organisations from NHS staff to Starbucks walking through the centre of London. However, with so many companies and brands lending their logo's to the rainbow cause, it begs the question as to whether pride has strayed too far from its political roots and into the commercially watered down playpen that it now resides.

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Pride or ‘Gay Christmas' as it is fondly named was originally a commemoration of a key turning point in LGBT history. If you don't know what we are talking about, as I'm sure many of the pride goers at last Saturday's parade didn't, take some time out to research into the history of the Stonewall riots and you may find yourself confused at the bubbly celebration that we now know as Pride.

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Branding was very prominent this year, during the whole month adverts and billboards attempted to capitalise on the LGBT audience. Although some were very touching, and a few were helpful in bringing awareness and helping LGBT causes, many looked suspiciously like publicity stunts. Whilst in some countries Pride organisers have limited the part businesses have to play in pride, such as in Iceland where logos are not allowed during the parade, London seems to have openly embraced the commercialisation. We asked some of the parade-goers what they thought about this evolution;

I wish there were a screening process that enables only companies that prove equality in the HR policy, ethos and ethics. Far too many companies slap a shitty rainbow on something and call it ‘Supporting Pride’. If brands, want to support the LGBT+ community, they should look at what ‘Paddy Power’ have done by donating money to our charities for every goal scored by Russia in the world cup
- Owen

It is clear that the LGBT community has money to spend, with an estimated £70 billion pounds (wearefamilymagazine.co.uk) being earnt and therefore spent each year. That is a large money pot that many companies can't wait to dip their hands into. However, that doesn't mean that a company's advertising stance and LGBT friendly advertising matches up with its own company's ethos. To date, there is no requirement to prove that companies are LGBT friendly before they are allowed to market specifically to the community or even to enter events and safe spaces. Whilst over the last decade it's clear that strives have been made to create a more equal society, and brands openly lending their support may have had an effect, but it's hard to see a solid correlation with so many other factors to consider.

Some people have gone as far as to suggest that LGBT people no longer need Pride or LGBT spaces. I mean now that we have rainbow vodka (thanks Absolut) and unappealing white skittles, what more can LGBT people really ask for? Yes, a young man was assaulted on a train in May this year for ‘looking homo', being gay is still illegal in over 70 countries and in only 14 countries is it legal for gay couples to adopt, but those are kinks that will probably iron themselves out. Right? That being said, we asked some pride goers on their thoughts as to whether Pride is still necessary:

I feel that Pride is extremely important as there are so many countries where it is still illegal to be gay and trans and even in countries where it is legal there are still deep-seated homo/transphobic attitudes at all levels of society. Also, it is important to have a day to celebrate our differences and feel at home and safe with people like us
-Kat

We couldn't cover London Pride without addressing the anti-trans group that marched through most of London at the front of the parade. After forcing their way to the front, the group was allowed by police to walk most of the way through the march. Confused onlookers began to cheer before stopping short from confusion as the excitement of the event lowered a few degrees. Not enough to freeze out the protesters but enough to cause social media to see red. It's ironic that the event they are trying to freeze trans people out of was started by transgender women of colour, but they must not have seen that post-it note. If you're confused, refer back to our previous comment on researching Pride's history. In this day and age there really is no excuse for not knowing!

Kabyashree Saikia