LGBT activists are furious with the corporate hijacking of Pride—the annual London march against homophobia and for liberation—which takes place this Saturday.
Across Britain they are organising to reclaim Pride’s radical history—and finding a new layer of people who are eager to help them.
The new spirit means that official march organisers aren’t able to just brush it aside.
Daniel is a further education student in Pembrokeshire in Wales. He told Socialist Worker, “Pride should be about fighting for our rights.
“It used to be more about politics—and that’s what it should become now.”
Pride organisers argue corporate support is valuable to the movement. But Daniel isn’t convinced. “I don’t see corporations fighting for our rights—they are just trying to make money out of Pride,” he said.
An example of the problem can be seen in the “Pride heroes” adverts that organisers have placed in London’s Tube stations.
The Lesbians and Gay Men Support the Miners (LGSM) group, on which the hit film Pride is based, are featured on one.
But the rest of the posters are mainly devoted to corporate sponsors such as Starbucks.
Daniel said, “I know the first Pride march in London was in the 1970s, and Cardiff’s first took place in 1985.
“It’s surreal to think that people marched back then when it was much harder to be openly LGBT.”
“Those early marchers are the real heroes of Pride—we should be celebrating them.”
The Gay Liberation movement in Britain was born in the early 1970s, inspired by the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York. It was a radical campaign, fighting to end oppression while targeting the whole capitalist system.
Many of today’s new LGBT activists were inspired by the film Pride, which tells the story of LGSM raising solidarity during the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike.
The film gained such a resonance because there is a new mood of resistance.
Rosa is a sixth form student in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, who is part of the Northern Community Feminist Society. She told Socialist Worker, “It’s all happening again with the new Tory government.
“We come from a predominately working class and old mining area—what’s going on affects us a lot.”
Rosa and her friends have organised a coach to Pride and raised funds from LGSM and the unions. Anne Scargill and others from the Women Against Pit Closures will be joining them.
Rosa says, “Organisers are trying to make Pride just a celebration of sexuality and gender
“Pride does bring together hundreds of thousands of LGBT people. But we mustn’t forget there was a fight for where we are now.
“It shouldn’t just be a celebration of being LGBT+, but a celebration that there’s always been a fight for our rights.”
This new mood is spreading.
Daniel and four friends are also travelling down to Pride. He said, “Watching the Pride film made me realise what people went through for their own and other people’s rights. That’s happening again now.”
Rosa added, “Everybody’s ready for a change—and this year’s Pride will be an important part of that.”
We can reclaim Pride and make it a vital part of the fight for liberation again.