BoJo, Goldilocks and taking Pride in Pride London
Sometimes you’ve got to love living in the UK – and Saturday was one of those times.
I’ll freely admit that I was not feeling all that well when I headed up into London for Pride London – the annual celebration of sexual diversity – but these events have the great ability to give you a much needed lift.
Strolling up the middle of Pall Mall to catch up with the Amnesty float, I passed the official protest – it must have numbered 15 at most – and I couldn’t help thinking what difference a few hundred miles makes. A month earlier in Latvia, Riga Pride was once more outnumbered by counter-demonstrators literally spitting vile and hatred at the parade (We had highlighted it all with a photograph exhibition on Thursday night at our London headquarters).
Here, with the sunshine hitting the streets around half a million flocked to join in the carnival atmosphere – the 15 looked completely out of place. And so to the parade itself. I made my way to the Amnesty float with my wife Jenny and my two-year-old daughter Amelia in tow. The new London mayor Boris Johnson was at the front and seemed to be enjoying the occasion and – as the Sun reported – he went on to commit himself to fully supporting future Pride parades, quashing rumours to the contrary. The paper even has an online slideshow of photos.
Anyway, quite how a two-year-old had managed to sleep through drums and whistles had puzzled me, but right on cue she opened here eyes just as the Amnesty float came into view.
With Eurovision cheesy pop booming off the back of the truck, and dozens of people dancing behind – including several organisers of Riga Pride – it was simply brilliant.
Maris Sants, the gay pastor who had recently fled Riga because of the level of homophobia there, lifted Amelia’s pram over the security cordon and we were in.
Smiling faces on either side greeted us as we made our way down Oxford Street, Regent Street and into Trafalgar Square.
Maris was jumping up and down and loving every moment of the parade. Personally that was great to see as I had helped draft the opinion piece that was published on The Independent website the day before. In that he had detailed the level of abuse he had been through – and here he was able to celebrate his sexuality at last.
The float itself had a giant scoreboard on it awarding “nul points” to six European countries for their appalling record on lesbian, gay and transgender rights, which seemed to captivate and educate the crowd.
Meanwhile my daughter was in her element. Although she was slightly confused by the appearance of two buxom blond-hair wig wearing people with stubble. It had nothing to do with their sexuality – she just couldn’t understand why there were two “Goldilocks”.
It had proved to be a great day and another high-water mark for Amnesty’s excellent LGBT campaign.
The euphoria lasted less than 24 hours. Yesterday, Budapest Pride was broken up by thugs throwing eggs, firecrackers and petrol bombs at participants as reuters reported. The battle against homophobia must continue. To check out what we are doing to combat the problem, click here.Till next time
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.