There’s a really unique event happening in Peckham this weekend. Part pride party, part protest; Peckham Pride’s a celebration of queer and migrant culture and a demonstration of community solidarity.
The event’s been organised by activist groups Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, Movement for Justice and South East London Sisters Uncut. There’ll be a march starting from Peckham Library at 12pm as well as a whole afternoon of art, spoken word, DJs, performances and talks. Glamrou from drag supergroup Denim’s performing and queer club nights such as Mari Cumbia and Queefy Cabaret will be taking part too.
Organisers say Peckham Pride is an act of solidarity with everyone who is ‘persecuted and maligned by the mainstream media.’ They intend it to be an act of solidarity with the LGBT+ community and all migrants, in a community that’s regularly hit with immigration raids. They explain it’s about recognising that if one group’s rights are at risk, all rights are at risk. ‘We can’t fight for rights in isolation,’ says Ida-Sofie Picard from campaign group Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants. ‘LGBT rights depend very much on migrant rights. We’re much stronger united.’
Antonia Bright from Movement for Justice says that at the first Peckham pride last year they had shopkeepers come out and give speeches about raids they’d experienced. She explains that shopkeepers described vans of immigration officers looking for individuals but grabbing anyone else who looked nervous and questioning them about their immigration status on the spot. The raids happen so regularly in Peckham that the community has started to fight back. Videos taken by onlookers show residents crowding around the vans, shouting immigration officers down.
‘People are angry. It’s a source of intimidation to everyone,’ Antonia explains. ‘There are so many people who have been affected by mass deportation flights, who’ve seen a loved one be gone with no notice. If they can’t build their case from inside what’s essentially an immigration prison then by default they’re deported and they’re just a statistic after that. You don’t know if you’re ever going to see them again after that.’
Healthcare professional Gavin has been organising the venue for this year’s Peckham Pride, he says he heard a woman - held at detention centre Yarl’s Wood - speak at a protest last year. ‘She spoke via phone over speakers playing in the field,’ he said. ‘She was talking about how she was originally from Jamaica but she’d been in the UK for 15 years, working as a nurse. She reapplied for residency, but it was rejected completely out of the blue and she wasn’t sure why.’
Gavin, Antonia and Ida all hope the event will show that communities will stand together throughout raids, detention, and deportation. Ida hopes the event has a powerful message. ‘There’s this assumption that LGBT people and migrants are natural enemies,’ she says, explaining rhetoric used to infer migrants are homophobic. ‘Peckham Pride is proving that we’re not. It’s a powerful celebration of communities coming together.’