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Equality and Diversity

June 27th, 2011

Countdown to London Gay Pride 2011

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Equality and Diversity

June 27th, 2011

Countdown to London Gay Pride 2011

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The countdown to London’s biggest outdoor event has begun. Gay Pride 2011 is almost upon us and with a record one million people attending  the event last year, it has claimed the title of the largest ever outdoor event in the UK, writes Neil Lawrence

(c) Flickr user encosion

Gay Pride is a colourful parade and festival celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender culture. Every year cities across the globe hold pride parades and events with the majority held in June, July and August. It is understood that it is held close to the anniversary of the Stonewall riots of 1969.  

It all started at the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood of New York City when people in the homosexual community fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities. That became the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.  

The Stonewall Inn was owned by the mafia at the time and it catered to an assortment of patrons, but it was known to be popular with the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: drag queens, representatives of a newly self-aware transgender community, effeminate young men, hustlers, and homeless youth. 

Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s, but officers quickly lost control of the situation at the Stonewall Inn, and attracted a crowd that was incited to riot. Tensions between New York City police and gay residents of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next evening, and again several nights later. Within weeks, Village residents quickly organised into activist groups to concentrate efforts on establishing places for gays and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of being arrested. 

After the Stonewall riots, LGBT people in New York City faced gender, class, and generational obstacles to becoming a cohesive community. But they tried to pave their way through. Within six months, two gay activist organisations were formed in New York, concentrating on confrontational tactics, and three newspapers were established to promote rights for gays and lesbians. Within a few years, gay rights organisations were founded across the U.S. and the world. 

On June 28, 1970, the first Gay Pride marches took place in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York commemorating the anniversary of the riots and many other countries have since followed suit. 

This year the Annual Gay Pride parade, festival and march through central London will include events in Trafalgar, Leicester and Soho Squares. 

Opening Times:  

Pride Festival: 17 June – 3 July 2011 

Parade: Saturday 2 July 2011 

The Parade  starts at 13:00 and is forming from Portland Place, London and will leave from the outside of BBC Broadcasting House at 13:00. The route has been modified slightly this year due to the closure of Oxford Street. The route will go from Portland Place, down Regent Street continuing down to Waterloo Place, turning onto Pall Mall and Cockspur Street and finally dispersing at Whitehall as done before for many years. 

For more details please visit the official Pride London website

Walking Out: 29 June 2011 

InMidTown are also organising a walk called ‘Walking Out’ to celebrate London Gay Pride Festival. The walk will visit various Holborn sites associated with lesbian and gay history, including the venue of the first Gay Liberation Front meeting in Britain. 

Neil Lawrence is on the committee of SPECTRUM, LSE’s LGBT staff group. He started at the LSE in 2005 as Front of House Manager of LSE’s Grosvenor House Studios on Drury Lane and has subsequently managed all three of the central cluster residences. He is currently at LSE’s High Holborn Residence. He is 31 years old and has been in London for 10 years. Neil is originally from Zimbabwe but thanks to his Irish ancestry, he was able to gain an Irish passport and escape the economic and political turmoil that the country is currently facing.

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Equality and Diversity

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