On Saturday (1 July), I had the privilege of joining The Independent – the exclusive news partner of Pride in London – as the publication marched during the 51st annual London Pride parade.
Saturday 1 July 2023. London. Yes, that’s right, it was day four of the second Ashes test. But, more importantly, it was the 51st annual Pride in London. And I had the pleasure of not just attending the parade, but taking part in it.
Starting on Park Lane and ending on Whitehall, this year’s parade traced much of the 1972 route – which started in Hyde Park and ended at Trafalgar Square. Unlike that event, which was attended by approximately 2,000 people, this year’s festival welcomed an estimated 30,000 parade participants and 1.5 million spectators – all united behind the #NeverMarchAlone slogan.
For most people, their first-ever Pride is as one of those millions of spectators. I – thanks to our friends at The Independent – experienced my first-ever Pride as part of the parade, and what an exhilarating, and yet humbling, experience it was.
While the Pride parade should be enjoyed, it’s important to remember that it’s also a protest against the treatment of people with the LGBTQIA+ community.
The focus of the #NeverMarchAlone campaign behind this year’s Pride was all about showing support for trans and non-binary individuals, at a time when they are facing increasingly worrying levels of hatred and vitriol from politicians and the media.
I’m a great believer in equality, and was happy to stand, walk, sing, dance, and cheer my way through the streets of London alongside members of the LGBTQIA+ community and allies alike, while showing my support of the protest.
Yes, I am a cisgendered straight male. But I am also a human, just like each and every one of the people I marched down Piccadilly with, and was proud to join the stand for the rights of my fellow humans.
As part of the protest, I proudly displayed and held up my “big fan of trans rights” t-shirt throughout the one-hour-plus journey through the cheering crowds, making sure the world knew what we were marching for.
A day to remember
It was an early start for us in The Independent camp – well, for me, anyway. Not sure when I was last in Central London at 10am on a Saturday, other than the times that I hadn’t yet made it home from my Friday!
We met outside The Iron Duke pub in Mayfair, changed into our branded ‘The Independent’ Pride t-shirts, got rained on a bit, then walked over to the parade holding area on Park Lane, flags already waving high in the sky.
As we waited to enter the area, the cans came out – it wasn’t yet midday, but this was a party!
In the holding area, we saw Dame Kelly Holmes having a ball atop a float, and took a selfie with Kit Connor from Netflix’s comedy-drama series Heartstopper (full disclosure: this was the first time I had heard of Heartstopper, but my friend was excited, so I guess it’s a big deal. And they seem like a nice bunch anyway).
Then, we started on our merry way. In the A12 position. So, that’s like the 12th group on the parade route. I think. It’s difficult to tell when you’re among 30,000 other people. Anyway, I digress…
We walked, danced, sung, cheered, waved our flags, handed out flags, greeted spectators, and partied our way along the parade.
Once it was all over, at around 13:30, we walked a little further to reach Tattershall Castle on Victoria Embankment for The Independent’s post-parade party. Here, we enjoyed food and drinks and continued the party for a couple more hours, before eventually heading our separate ways.
Of course, those who know me will know that I’m not the type of person whose party comes to an end as early as 16:30. But, alas, what happened the rest of my day at Pride is information for another time and place.
Thank you to The Independent for inviting me to join the fun. Hope we get to do it again next year in circumstances where the rights of certain individuals aren’t being torn away.
This year, New Digital Age launched Media Pride – a year-round content and events initiative celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community within advertising and marketing. If you’re interested in hearing how you can get involved in the initiative, please contact email@example.com.