Socialist Worker

Pride should be political, no matter what the organisers and corporate bosses say

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2562

Usdaw trade union members join the annual Pride march in London

Usdaw trade union members join the annual Pride march in London (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Hundreds of thousands of people joined the annual Pride event in central London today, Saturday.

There was a party atmosphere on much of the parade as it wove through the streets.

But there were many reminders too of the deadly homophobia that many LGBT+ people face.

One man from Oman was disguised to protect his identity. It was his first Pride parade. “My main aim is to send a message,” he said. “I have to be disguised so people where I am from don’t know who I am. But somebody has to stand up.”

BA workers fighting for better pay joined Pride

BA workers fighting for better pay joined Pride (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Lady V added, “You shouldn’t have to hide your identity in 2017 because you’re gay. How can it not be ok to fall in love with someone who is the same sex as you? People are still getting killed for being gay."

At times the parade looked like a giant advert for major firms. Barclays led the march. Other major banks were there with floats, along with multinationals including Sky, Amazon and Vodafone, charities and campaigning groups.

For many the good thing about Pride was that it included everybody. As Barclays worker Sue said, “I think it’s really good when businesses and people get together to do something good.

Diversity

“Barclays is a big sponsor of diversity.”

Others disagreed. Unite union member Jenny Douglas said, “Firms like Barclays who want to make a quick buck out of the pink pound should be at the back. Barclays says it’s for LGBT rights - but it is still investing in countries that kill gay people.

“I think the FBU union should be leading Pride this year, especially after the Grenfell Tower fire.”

Jenny was part of a delegation of Unite members including strikers from British Airways. Union member Phil told Socialist Worker, “Unions are usually shoved at the back of Pride, out of the way.

“But this year we have delegations scattered throughout the parade. That’s because we really had a go after last year and put pressure on them.”

Other unions on the march included the RMT, PCS, Unison, NUT , Equity, Community and Usdaw. Usdaw member Lebo was on her first pride. “I’ve just gone onto our union’s equality committee,” she told Socialist Worker.

“Your eyes start opening to a bit more of what’s going on. It’s such a good atmosphere here and it feels safe.”

Pride is a chance for right wing politicians and repressive institutions to pose as defenders of people’s rights. They are not our allies in the fight for liberation.

Some on the march wanted to see changes to better support LGBT people. Community member Stevie said, “Mental health is a big issue among young people. It’s hard enough coming out without having such a lack of support.

“44 percent of LGBT people are suffering with mental health issues,” he said. “There should be more funding so they can get support.”

Phoebe was promoting Families Together London, a support group for parents of gay children. “I’m here with my dad and I’m gay,” she told Socialist Worker. “I would like to see more support for gay children—it can be very hard.”

The march was a great show of strength against homophobia and bigotry. It showed the broad, mainstream backing for LGBT rights—and is a slap in the face for the bigots.

However, there are downsides to welcoming every part of society. For instance, the cops had a section on the parade, with officers’ shoulder stripes changed to rainbow colours to show how progressive they are.

Pigs might fly - the progressive face of the cops

Pigs might fly - the "progressive" face of the cops (Pic: Socialist Worker)


And Tory minister Justine Greening was one of those at the head of the march. A small group of around ten racists also joined the parade with placards attacking Muslims.

Despite that there was anger at the corporate takeover. And organisers’ decision to limit the numbers who could officially attend, telling many to simply line the route to watch the parade pass by, was slammed by marchers as well.

As it stands, Pride is a chance for right wing politicians and repressive institutions to pose as defenders of people’s rights. They are not our allies in the fight for liberation.


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