Trade unionists with the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) banner led a vibrant parade at a 70,000-strong Birmingham Pride festival last Saturday.
The success of the film Pride has taken the festival back towards its political roots.
The floats from community groups and companies that have led the parade in recent years were still there.
But now they came behind political groups and trade unions.
Bridget Parsons was on the parade. She told Socialist Worker, “It was fantastic, much more politically committed than last year, with all the trade union banners. I saw loads from the PCS and NASUWT unions.”
Geoff Dexter helped organise the parade.
He told Socialist Worker, “The crowds clapped people on the parade more enthusiastically than ever.
“People cheered as the front half passed with political banners and chants of ‘David Cameron—fuck off back to Eton’.
“There were banners from ten unions and the TUC, alongside the National Pensioners Convention and LGBT Against Islamophobia.”
Despite the change in atmosphere the main event is still very much a business venture.
Geoff said, “It was a bit sad when the parade arrived at the Gay Village, where the festival is held, and was stopped by ticket barriers.
“It now costs at least £20 to go in. There’s no kind of communal space. So there’s a lot of work still to be done.”
He added, “But even in the official festival the highlight on the main stage was the announcement of the Irish referendum result and the massive cheers that got.”
The trade unions’ “Out Against Austerity” placard was particularly popular.
People signed up for active solidarity with the Dudley Mosque and Muslim community centre in Solihull which have faced racist demonstrations.
Geoff said, “People say young people aren’t interested in politics. So it was great to see people under
20 take not just education and health placards, but those demanding pension rights.
“We got 12 people coming up to ask about joining a union.”
Bridget added, “Lots of people also gave their details for coaches for the People’s Assembly End Austerity Now demonstration in London on 20 June.”
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