Photography by Hiders Seekers
This weekend, London played host to a sea of faces painted with the colours of the rainbow LGBTQI+ flag, and crowds donning technicolour outfits armed with flags and placards. Part-party and part-protest, Pride has grown since its origins (every year people bemoan the increased corporate presence), and it is still an important event for the community. It’s one day of hyper-visibility, unity, and open celebration.
As anti-TERF protesters marched, it was clear that for 2019’s Pride celebrations, inclusivity and representation for the entirety of the LGBTQIA+ community took centre stage. With that in mind, gal-dem went to London Pride to speak to the QTPOC attendees about what Pride means to them and how they see themselves represented in the event.
“What isn’t it? It’s everything we’ve been fighting for. It’s love, it’s sharing and caring. Every year there’s a different fight and we are fighting it together. I represent London Pride and London Pride represents me.”
“A celebration of queer lifestyles. A necessary display of how broad and beautiful the human experience can be. Safety in numbers, because every day fear still dictates how I and others choose to present ourselves in public.
I think it needs to be asked whether it represents and centres the needs of the most marginalised in our communities. London Pride’s main events aren’t there yet but thanks to the resilience of so many creatives and organisers, there’s definitely a growing space for POC in the celebrations.”
“Pride is community. Even if the rest of the year we don’t feel accepted, pride is the opposite of that. Pride is full of love and sharing it with who you love.
The first time I came I didn’t feel like it did represent me, and I was still finding my way. But this year is different.”
“It’s equality! It’s not caring.”
Jihye, 37 and Yoojung, 27
Jihye: “Pride is me. And it’s being free to be myself.”
Yoojung: “London Pride does represent me. It’s great! During this time we can hold hands with each other and no one cares.”
Jazmine Flower, 18
“Pride is comfort and being comfortable being me. It’s also colour, diversity and representation.”
Ellie, 20 and Brandon, 19
Ellie: “Acknowledging and appreciating the courage people have to live their truth and celebrating that, but also celebrating for those who can’t.”
Brandon: “Pride was started by QTIPOCs, and Pride is about celebrating and embracing that. And being proud of who I am.”
“Pride means a fight. It’s got to represent the struggle and the fight for equality. And, fighting for equality is an international struggle. For a few years, we’ve marched at Pride for PN [Ugandan Lesbian women who faced deportation]. At Pride 2019 we are celebrating that PN has won in court and is coming back to the UK. Pride is a moment of hope for those fighting their own struggle.”
Gabriella, 26, Roneka, 24 and Princess, 24
Gabriella: “Black Pride represents me more. London Pride needs to be more representative. On the stages, there needs to be more young black music and things that reflect our culture.”
Ronkea: “It’s embracing yourself! A lot more could be done to represent people of all backgrounds.”
Princess: “Pride is equality and unity.”
Mikey Sherif, 29
“Being yourself! I only came out nine years ago. This is why I dress the way I dress. I can’t express myself with words, but with fashion. I can reclaim all the horrible words people have used against me and celebrate me. And I hope by doing this, other people feel like they can be themselves too.”
“As an individual, I celebrate Pride with hope that a lot of things will change. If I went back a few years maybe 2011-2012 I would say London Pride didn’t really represent me, due to the lack of diversity. Don’t get me wrong I strongly believe that London Pride has a long way to go in terms of really uniting as a whole and truly being representative. What’s beautiful though is when we do all come together marching away in the parade and really feeling the love and unity. It does represent me but we still have a long way to go.”