LGBTQ+ leaders explain why Pride in London is ‘more important than ever’ amid UK culture war

Leaders of Pride in London’s annual parade have said Pride is now “more important than ever” in a year that has seen LGBTQ+ lives increasingly used as a political football. 

On Saturday (29 June), people came together in solidarity and celebration for Pride in London. 

Taking off from Hyde Park Corner, the annual parade was lead by London mayor Sadiq Khan. Khan wished the crowd a “happy Pride”, while surrounded by banners that read “we built this city” and “London is so gay”.  

Pride in London’s campaign this year – #WeAreEverywhere – aims to respond to the UK’s current political climate, with LGBTQ+ identities’ under attack.

The parade was led by 150 LGBTQ+ activists, some independent and some with organisations. PinkNews spoke to some of the #WeAreEverywhere leaders of the parade. 

H Li (PinkNews/Chan Billson)

H Li, director of communications at Pride in London, who uses they/she pronouns, introduced PinkNews to the concepts and key figures behind this year’s event, explaining: “This year’s Pride in London campaign is all about how everyday Londoners all across the city are advancing the rights of LGBTQ+ people all over the city.

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“Some of them are not part of organisations, they’re individual activists and it’s a really diverse group of people who are part of this campaign.” 

Asexual activist Yasmin Benoit at Pride in London 2024.
Asexual activist Yasmin Benoit at Pride in London 2024. (PinkNews)

Asexual activist Yasmin Benoit, who is part of the campaign, told PinkNews: “Pride is more important than ever especially in the current cultural and political climate”. 

As “the UK is taking steps back” in ensuring the rights of LGBTQ+ people, Benoit said “it’s even more important to be loud and to be visible and to be supportive”. 

She said Pride can be a time for celebration, but also protest, “especially for places that haven’t had the same progress that we’ve had”. 

Benoit said of leading the parade: “It’s an incredible honour as a asexual person, as a aromatic person, as a Black woman to be able to lead Pride in London, it’s one of the biggest Pride’s in the UK and I think it makes a powerful statement about inclusion.” 

She also shared what she wished politicians knew about queer voters: “I wish that politicians considered the huge number of queer people in the UK.

“By not appealing to queer voters, and not protecting queer people, they are alienating a huge and growing part of the UK population and that has not longevity for them what so ever”. 

Post-election she hopes for a government – that isn’t Conservative – that will be behind queer people, trans people and make the Equality Act inclusive for asexual people. 

She added: “And that they will stop using queer people and queer issues as a hot topic to cause more division and gain more votes”. 

Rico Jacob Chace (Chan Billson/PinkNews)

Rico Jacob Chace told PinkNews that Pride in London has always been a protest, and “always should be.” 

He said there is still “a lot that needs to be done when it comes to trans rights”. 

“As a very vocal Black trans activist it’s very important that we do recognise that there’s still a lot of work when it comes to trans and non-binary rights and we’re here today to make a stance.” 

Chace helped to create Pride in London’s campaign last year – “Never March Alone: Championing Trans Allyship” – and said leading the parade this year is a “joy”. 

“Little moments like this really reminds me that there are a lot of us, we are the majority and we want to make a positive stance on society,” he explained.

Chace added: “I wish that politicians knew that queer voters are in the majority. We have allies, we are very outspoken, we’re very kind, warm, conscientious people and we want to make an environment where everyone is included and accepted and we will not stop until we have an inclusive society.”

Neale Martin (Chan Billson/PinkNews)

Neale Martin told PinkNews it’s “such an honour” to be leading the parade and “headlining for our community here in London”. 

On the importance of Pride, he said: “In 2024 it’s still as important as it’s ever been, but especially now it’s for bringing the fight forward for our trans non-binary members of the community who are still facing struggles,” he said for this reason Pride is still a protest, but added “we can still have a party”. 

Speaking about politicians, Martin said: “I wish they just treated us like every other voter. Unfortunately they are using part of our community to turn voters against us, and that’s the worst thing about it all. 

“Stop vilifying us, get behind us, support us and treat us like everybody else, no matter who we are.” 

He hopes that the incoming government will ensure “the ban on conversion therapy has got to include trans people, and less hated in the news directed at the community, especially the trans and non-binary community.” 

Marcus Beecroft (Chan Billson/PinkNews)

Marcus Beecroft, who was attending his first Pride in London at the front of the event, told PinkNews he believed “Pride is definitely still a protest, we face so many problems still, even in 2024”. 

Speaking of leading the parade, he said: “I’m so excited. I can just feel the love everywhere around. It’s just a wonderful experience.” 

TAJ Outerbridge (Chan Billson/PinkNews)

TAJ Outerbridge told PinkNews they believe Pride is “super important for visibility”, especially for those who are marginalised in the community – it offers them a chance to stand with others. 

They added: “Pride is definitely still a protest and that’s why I’m here with Pride in London to march in the protest.” 

They shared their thoughts about politicians, saying: “I wish that they valued our participation just as much as everyone else and I wish that they saw us a priority group.” 

Post-election Outerbridge said they want to see “trans healthcare as a priority because both leading parties right now don’t have a good stance around trans healthcare and I think that should be the priority for the next government.” 

Speaking of leading the parade, they said: “It means everything to me. A little queer kid from Bermuda who never thought they’d walk in a Pride parade, this is huge.”

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