London Pride 2023

Thanks to All Inc’s Andy for this contribution on behalf of the UK team!

On Saturday 1st July, I was fortunate enough to attend —and indeed march in the main parade at— London Pride.

June has universally become accepted as “Pride Month” in most countries and I must admit to having a certain degree of ambivalence to it. On the one hand, with oppressive legislation and policy coming out of many countries, Pride is now more relevant than ever. This year, all the small placards naming the groups walking were surrounded by the Trans Pride colours. Equally, a lot of the homemade banners reflected the mantra “Ain’t no LGB without the T”, a further affirmation of our Trans and non-binary friends who are facing such a backlash at the moment.

On the other hand, I struggle with companies who sometimes have dubious LGBTQ+ credentials “showing their Pride.” Visibility is so important; just ask any LGBTQ+ kid growing up in a small community. But what when that visibility comes from a company associated with newspapers who plainly state homophobic rhetoric and narratives? Does that mitigate the message, or show a desire to “be better”? I think the only real test of what happens is this month. In July —and of course the rest of the year— are those same companies going to change the narrative around themselves, or will the “rainbow washing” during June give way to the 11-month whitewashing? Only time will tell, but one message that came through very strongly, especially from the younger participants, was that they are watching very carefully.

One really encouraging aspect of the march was the number of young people who are clearly comfortable in their skin, their sexuality and their gender. I would like to think that this is because over the last 30 years (if less so the last 10) we have stood firm on a range of rights in the UK, such as equal rights in marriage and equal rights in the law. One thing that we must continue to do is maintain that fight. There are a number of right-wing politicians stoking up hatred and fear around the LGBTQ+ community and unless we want to see our rights rolled back (and one only needs to see what is happening to Roe vs. Wade in the US to see this firsthand) then we will see further social conservatism seeping into UK life.

As lines are being drawn in culture wars and increasing political tensions around the way we support the LGBTQ+ community, companies need to decide which side of history they are on. Companies —and institutions such as our universities— need to show allyship and advocacy, because after this weekend one thing is clear: the youth in the next generation will settle for nothing short of unequivocal support: and as the pop song goes, “The kids are alright!”

Photo credit: “Tunnel at London King’s Cross station illuminated in rainbow colours for Pride month”, shared by The Wub on Wikimedia Commons.

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