Pride before a fall?
We report from the press launch for World Pride 2012
Three months ago, there was much excitement surrounding World Pride, which takes place in London over the coming weeks. Among the expected highlights were Pride House on Clapham Common, which was backed by the likes of Stephen Fry and David Furnish. An 18 day festival was planned to coincide with the London Olympic Games. Journalists were granted interviews with Furnish, who revealed that Elton John was among those who'd agreed to play.
Then just as we were about to go to press, it was announced that Furnish and his production team would no longer be involved. Citing 'numerous complexities surrounding the availability of talent, sponsors and resources', the press statement ended by saying, 'We wish the Pride House Foundation well in making the concept work and will continue to support the project in whatever way we can.'
By the time of the World Pride 2012 press launch, held just under two weeks ago at the Pride offices in Soho, there was rather less excitement. A handful of gay journalists turned up. The gay monthlies had already gone to press. There was nobody from the lesbian press and nobody from the mainstream media. Still we were assured that this was going to be a very special event - 'like the Jubilee, only bigger', as one speaker would have us believe.
So who's headlining? Deborah Cox. Who? You may well ask, and several people did. Cox is a Canadian singer best known for her late '90s dance anthems, 'Things Just Ain't the Same' and 'Nobody's Supposed to Be Here'. No disrespect to Ms Cox. She is, after all, a multi-platinum award winner. But when people need to explain who you are, it's a pretty safe bet that you're not really headline material. And given that this is World Pride, wouldn't it make more sense if the headliner was lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender?
Next it was suggested that Pink might show up, as her husband 'Corey Hart' was also on the bill. 'Carey Hart, the motorcyclist?' asked Karl Riley from Boyz magazine. 'Not Corey Hart, the singer?' They couldn't say.
For the record, Corey Hart is a Canadian singer who had a big hit in 1983 with 'Sunglasses at Night'. His photograph appears in the press pack. Pink is married to motocross racer Carey Hart. His photograph doesn't appear in the press pack - because he's not on the bill.
Hillary Clinton's name was mentioned. World Pride have awarded Clinton a World LGBT Award for her 'outstanding contributions' to LGBT rights globally. She has accepted. So will she be attending? They couldn't say.
What could they tell us? The march on July 7 will start from Baker Street and end in Trafalgar Square, where there'll be a mixture of musical acts and political speakers. As well as the main stage in Trafalgar Square, there'll be a dance stage in Golden Square and a family area in St Anne's Gardens. Rather like last year.
The aim of World Pride is to promote LGBT issues 'on an international level'. The slogan for this year's event is 'Today London, Tomorrow the World'. At the press launch there were projections promoting 'official destination partner' Las Vegas and cocktail waitresses dressed as showgirls. But where was the sense that this would be the 'truly global event' described in the press pack? Most journalists left shaking their heads.
Of course we should remember that Pride is a free event, staffed by volunteers. But this is World Pride we're talking about. And when sponsors include the likes of Smirnoff, Barclaycard, Tesco and British Airways, you'd expect something a little more exciting than this.
London is world-class city with a gay scene that is second to none. And a world class-city calls for a world-class event. It's great that Boy George will be playing and that scene stalwart Dusty O will be co-hosting the main stage. But failing a surprise appearance from the likes of Pink or Hillary Clinton, there's a strong possibility that World Pride 2012 will pass with barely a flicker of interest from the mainstream media. And that's a crying shame.
The World Pride 2012 festival continues until July 8. World Pride 2012 is on July 7.