If ever a time that a city was in need of a celebration it is London and the time is now. After the shock of the UK referendum voting to leave the European Union the country is divided. With the City of London highly supporting the country to remain in the EU to say that the city was in a state of shock and sadness is an extreme understatement. Although the future is extremely uncertain in the UN-United Kingdom one thing that was clear was London could use a reason to celebrate...and CELEBRATE THEY DID!!
We have come a long way and still have a long way to go but the City of London once again celebrated PRIDE WEEK with European’s largest gay pride parade. It was impossible to walk through London without seeing the rainbow flags flying everywhere. My personal favourite being the one that was flying high on The Bank of England building where the Union Jack usually flies. Maybe next year Buckingham Palace could join in. Stores were decorated, banners hung and the city has never been more colourful.
I managed to once again squeeze into position and watch thousands of people, march, strut, skip, dance, prance, sing and play down London’s Regent’s Street. With the incredible turnout it was impossible to say who wasn't participating in this event.
Seemed like everyone was in attendance. London banks, accounting firms, retailers, service providers, sport teams, first responders, police, all branches of the military, religious groups, etc. All were there lending their support to this years prevailing theme, LOVE IS LOVE. It was great seeing the Mayor of London leading the parade. As it should be. But those from Toronto will remember all too well, it is not always how it is. Rest in peace ex-mayor Rob Ford.
In fact I believe that today it would be politically incorrect to not be there as a business. Of course there were a few of the haters or antigay religious groups that will alway be so narrow of mind and heart but I believe their numbers are dwindling. The energy, joy and love was contagious. The variety of people was as vast as London itself. From the dramatic and theatrical to the old military officers walking in their decorated uniforms hand in hand. It was all amazing and at times very touching.
There was even a couple of marriage proposals at this year's parade that have gone viral. My fave is the London police officer proposing to another London police officer breaking ranks during the parade. Talk about your public pressure, all eyes on them. He happily said yes!!!.
I felt the pride, the pure energy as people who society may have deemed “different” had found their pack.
They were cheered and celebrated as they paraded down the London streets to thousands of supporters. There was no judgement only acceptance, love with the occasional Abba or Lady Gaga song. I could not include all of my photos of the day as there were so many but if you want to see more click on my Gallery images. The Guardian and TimeOut London have posted some great photos as well.
Another favourite moment of mine was this giant group choreographed dance number with hundreds of men dancing down the parade route on Regents Street. Cannot imagine how they scheduled rehearsal.
Click on photo. Feel the fun.
So Happy Pride London. Your timing was more important than you could have ever predicted. May the love and acceptance I felt so strongly from that day continue into our hearts as you march forward to an uncertain future.
And take with you Pride Week's very important message...
LOVE IS LOVE.