Words: Lee Mabey
This Saturday I will be honoured to be joining colleagues across the industry marching at Pride London which this year celebrates the Pride Jubilee, celebrating 50 years of queer revolt.
2019 marks 50 years since the Stonewall Riots – a pivotal moment in the modern LGBT+ rights movement. In the early hours of 28 June 1969, patrons of New York’s Stonewall Inn fought back against the police who raided the bar. After years of oppression, harassment and blackmail those brave drag queens, trans folk and gay men and women decided enough was enough. Their acts of defiance lit the touch paper across the globe as queer people the world stood up to fight for equality.
The riots were soon followed by the first Pride marches across the USA (the first Pride London event took place in 1972). Those first marches were far removed from the celebration of LGBT+ life we can expect to see this Saturday. There were no corporate sponsors, no rainbow rebranding, no crowds cheering people on. These events were protests to highlight social injustices and promote equality.
With the advancements in civil liberties for the LGBT+ community, it is easy to question if Pride events are still needed. A cursory glance at news headlines over the past month highlights why having Pride events in 2019 are vital.
Elected officials are questioning if there will eventually be a cure for homosexuality, reported transgender hate crimes are up 81% in a year and a lesbian couple were attacked by a group of young men for refusing to kiss each other for their entertainment are just some of the depressing examples of why Pride is still needed. We have come so far yet there is still much to do.
I have attended Pride events annually since 2003. Initially I treated it as a giant celebration, but over time my views on Pride have changed. I would be lying if I said I do not enjoy the party aspect, but it now increasingly serves as a time to reflect on how far the LGBT+ community has come and to pay respect to the brave individuals who fought for the freedoms I never take for granted.
It is these freedoms that make Pride such an important event. My attendance at Pride is an act of solidarity to those watching both here in the UK and across the world who are not able to be who they are meant to be. I want to show them it does get better and there is a society who will accept who they are.
Marching with my colleagues on Saturday is an honour. I am immensely proud to work in an industry who supports its LGBTQ+ employees and is actively working to make a difference to their lives to allow them to be their true selves. If you are coming on Saturday, give us a cheer. Your support will mean everything to us.
Lee Mabey is Co-Chair, &PROUD and Integration Strategy Director, Posterscope