As if the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Olympic and Paralympic games weren’t enough for London in the summer of 2012, the city kicks off two weeks of WorldPride and Pride London this weekend in what is expected to be the biggest LGBT gathering ever seen in the UK. The festival is in its third iteration, having previously been hosted by Rome and Jerusalem.
A celebration in London has been held by several organisations since the first UK Gay Pride Rally in London on July 1 1972, with around 2000 participants, was eventually renamed Lesbian and Gay Pride in 1983m, and since the 1990s has taken the carnival format it currently employs, including Europride in 1992, which attracted around 100,000 people. Pride London emerged in 2004 and has held a political rally in Trafalgar Square directly after its parade ever since.
While the celebrations will include theatre shows, debates, poetry readings and parties, the centre stage will be the massive parade on July 7, running from Baker Street through the centre of London, down Oxford Street, Regent Street, Pall Mall and Trafalgar Square to Piccadilly Circus, where a pride rally and concert will take place, featuring Lloyd Daniels and Twenty Twenty. The parade’s theme is ‘One World, One Pride, One Voice’, and part of the fun will be seeing how many ways the participants find to interpret this in their costumes and floats.
Pride London is also hosting the World Pride International Conference 2012, a series of talks about furthering the rights and equality of LGBT people around the world. The first ever conference at Pride London will be on July 4, on ‘LGBT Rights in the Commonwealth’, and features a range of international LGBT campaigners and activists, with the aim of empowering people with information about discriminatory laws that criminalise homosexuality around the world. It also concentrates on recent successes in countries such as India and the lessons that can be taken from that particular instance. Speakers include Rizwana Yasmin, Secretary-General of Women Employees Welfare Association, a group based in Lahore that works for the realisation and preservation of women’s and LGBT rights in Pakistan, and Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, a Sri Lanka-born former Co-Secretary General for the International Lesbian and Gay Association.
Although the event now boasts some large corporate sponsors (for which it has taken some criticism), the event is largely free and relies heavily on work from its huge volunteer corps. These roles range from stewarding to event management to maintaining the WiFi, and as the festival will be bigger than ever, every free hand will be greatly valued. If you’re in the London area and have free time available, you can find more information here.
After that, all that’s left is the partying! The major parties will be happening in Vauxhall and Soho, and info can be found on the official Pride London site.
Catherine Halsey is based in Edinburgh and writes for a digital marketing agency. This article links back to Skype.com.