To me, often down the years, the London Pride came across as a sort of procession, overflowing with a blend of color and culture. There were no elements of anything ritualistic, and really it was all about people gathering in the spirit of celebration, with the hope of raising awareness, rather than perhaps incite an all-out rebellion.
This year though felt a bit different. There was a sense of purpose this time, intent, fuelled directly by the 50th anniversary of the ‘Stonewall Uprising’ in New York.
It was not feverish by any means, members of the LGBT+ community looked in good moods and were more inclined to rejoice in perhaps one of the only few occasions where they can celebrate themselves. But it was there and you could feel it, typified perhaps by the pint-sized, but defiant bouts of protest marches.
In amidst all that, there was the usual. A never-ending stream of rainbow flags and banners lined the streets, with some sources suggesting that an estimate of 1.5 million people had attendee this year, even though those figures could never be confirmed as the streets were just simply full to the brim with participants. The Red Arrows, to the crowd’s immense delight, carried out a flypast at 13:25 BST.
The Pride in London meanwhile for those wondering started at Portland Place, and carried across Oxford Circus, down Regent Street before halting at Whitehall via Trafalgar Square.
“It was tremendous, and I am overwhelmed”, stated one Mr. Arman Ahmed (Editor of Bangladeshi atheist magazine “Atheist in Bangladesh” and also a key member of one of southeast Asia’s most active LGBT+ organizations, Boys Love World. We asked Mr. Ahmed whether it is possible that this year’s Pride was in protest rather a simple demonstration to raise public awareness about the LGBT+ community.
Shaking with energy and delirium Mr. Ahmed offered, “Yes and no. Because you can see these people here, they are all gathered to enjoy the occasion. As for protests, my very existence as a gay man is a protest in itself, unless the day comes of course when I or people like me are treated with equality and respect unreservedly, aka what normal people are entreated to. Our adversities have not lessened at all, indeed they have sharpened since the last time I attended this event. The ‘Stonewall Uprising’ is just a part of it. Today the bouts of protest you see amongst the overwhelming colors are just finally a manifestation of the silent one we have carried out over the years.”
Mr. Ahmed was accompanied by his ‘Boys Love World’ colleagues, featuring notable LGBT activists, writers, bloggers, and different media personalities. Some of the names are Enyetul Huda, Syed Shawon (Editor of Boys Love World magazine), Saiful Islam, Faysal Hossain Onik, Aminul Huq. KM Mahfuzur Rahman.
This year’s parade was also in danger of being overshadowed by the controversy that dented the shine on last year’s parade after anti-transgender campaigners forced their way to the front of the parade. This year organizers were keen to stress that inclusivity and representation were a priority. In conclusion, thus it is fair to say after a quiet and ‘uneventful’ (if you can refer to a vibrant event like this as uneventful) this year, they by and large have succeeded. The world was once more reminded of the unity and strength embodied by the rainbow flag.