London's streets will turn all the colours of the rainbow this July — with the return of the city's first Pride parade since 2019. And it's even more special because this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Pride in London.
The parade in the capital alone attracts around 1.5 million LGBT+ people and allies annually, and 2022's route will trace the path of the LGBTQ+ protesters and revellers who paraded through the city streets back in 1972.
The route of the parade — which takes place on 2 July — encompasses key landmarks of the UK's LGBT+ movement; it kicks off at Hyde Park, where the first post-march picnic took place, and where mining communities showed solidarity with the LGBT+ community in 1985.
The parade strikes east along Piccadilly, and towards Soho — famous for its LGBTQ+ scene — before shifting southward at Piccadilly Circus, heading through Trafalgar Square (the terminus for the 1972 march) and finishing up in Whitehall.
"Taking the same route that we marched along in 1972 is a historical statement of how far we have come," says Andrew Lumsden, one of the original members of the Gay Liberation Front, whose conception was inspired by the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York City. "Pride began all those years ago as a way for us to come out to society and ourselves, and be loud and proud about our LGBT+ identity."
Adds executive director of Pride in London, Christopher Joell-Deshields: "It is important to recognise the activists who were brave enough to come out in 1972 to march for our liberation and pave the way for the rights we enjoy today."
A range of LGBT+ community groups along with human rights, transgender, gender diverse and HIV advocates will be part of this year's event. In all, around 150 people volunteer with Pride in London every year to organise the parade, while 40,000 participants from over 400 community groups are expected participate.
It has, however, previously been reported that UK Black Pride says it will not be collaborating with 2022's Pride in London. Christopher Joell-Deshields replied to this back in February, stating: "As we rebuild trust with UK Black Pride and the communities they represent, it is important that our engagement is authentic. It’s personal to me as a black gay man and a member of the Black LGBT+ community that our relationship is anchored in our values of visibilty, unity and equality. "
"Our mission is not over"
Since the first march half a century ago, the LGBT+ community has made great strides for rights, such as successfully campaigning to legalise same-sex marriage in England and Wales in 2014.
But Andrew Lumsden notes there is more to be done: "Important steps have been made by the community in tackling discrimination of all kinds," he says, "However, at this monumental 50-year mark, it is clear that our mission is not over."
Beyond promoting visibility and celebrating diversity at the parade this year, Pride in London requests the UK Government to ban conversion therapy, create equal protections for LGBT+ communities against hate crimes, and establish a national AIDS memorial, among other things.
Says the Pride website: "Participation in the parade gives the opportunity for expression of celebration, joy and triumph but also the voice to rightly express the continued fight for those injustices and inequalities that exist amongst us."
Pride in London Parade, Hyde Park Corner, 2 July 2022, free to attend.