The parade, which marked the 50th anniversary of the first Pride event, was attended by over a million people.
More than a million LGBTQ+ people and allies brought an eruption of colour to the streets of central London yesterday (2 July) for the annual Pride parade, making it the “biggest ever” Pride to take place.
Taking to Twitter, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan confirmed the record-breaking attendance, describing the event as a “fantastic example of the diversity and freedom of the city”.
The parade – which was the first of its kind to take place since the pandemic – marked the 50th anniversary of the first ever Pride organised by the Gay Liberation Front. Representatives from the organisation led the parade yesterday, which was made up of 30,000 participants from over 400 community groups.
The event was also attended by many famous faces, including the cast of Netflix’s Heartstopper, who were pictured confronting anti-LGBTQ+ protestors standing along the parade’s route.
Dame Kelly Holmes – who came out as gay at the end of last month – also attended, delivering a powerful speech to the crowd gathered in Trafalgar Square.
“For those that don’t know me, I am an honorary colonel with the Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment, I am a Dame Commander of The British Empire, I am the first British woman in the history of the Olympic Games to win two gold medals at the same games, I am mixed race and I am also a gay woman,” she said.
“For 34 years I have never been able to say those words until two weeks ago due to the fear of judgment and retribution that was instilled in me since the age of 18 because the laws in the military and being in the public eye didn’t allow me to do it. All I can definitely say now is I’m 52, I’m never going to live behind that curtain again.”
After thanking everyone for the support she has received since coming out in an interview with the Sunday Mirror, she added: “I could never speak before but I have realised no matter if you lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, Black, white, short, tall, big, small, however you identify and even being straight, we have the right to stand side by side with each other, we all deserve to have our voices heard.”
For the first time, uniformed police officers did not join the parade, following calls from LGBTQ+ protestors to ban them from the event in the wake of inquests which said police failings “probably” contributed to the deaths of the young men murdered by the serial killer Stephen Port. The request did not stop police officers from marching out of uniform.
In a statement to The Guardian, the event’s organisers said: “‘We work hard to strike a balance between the very real and legitimate concerns from members of our community, and being as welcoming as we can. We agree that the police uniform undermines that balance, and as such we are aligned that it should not feature in our parade.”
Speaking about what needs to be done to restore the LGBTQ+ community’s faith in the police, Haven Thorn, a spokesperson for London Pride, said “communication, building in-roads and listening to our voices” would be key.
“There’s a lot more work to be done, but obviously we’ve come very far in the past 50 years,” he told Metro. “Mayor Sadiq Khan was at the front of the parade and led the march this year which shows how much visibility the community is enjoying today.”
Thorn continued: “We won’t be silenced. People in power need to listen to the community’s words and what we’re crying out for, which is equality for all. Pride at its core is a protest, and there will always be a Pride until the LGBT+ community are equal to their heteronormative counterparts in every way possible.”
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