The horrific attack on a gay club in Orlando has reminded us in cold, brutal starkness, that hate still exists in the world.
But Monday’s huge outpouring of sympathy on the streets of Soho – in solidarity with the victims of the shooting and their families – showed that Londoners have the ability to comprehensively combat hate with love. The events in Soho were so moving, we think it’s important to keep that momentum going, to keep the chant that echoed around Old Compton Street echoing as long as possible: ‘We’re here, we’re queer, we will not live in fear.’
Therefore, we’re urging as many Londoners as possible to attend the Pride in London parade on Saturday June 25. To stand up for equality, and to make a stand against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
But don’t take our word for it. We’ve spoken to some of the most prominent LGBT+ voices – and some allies too – and asked one question…
Why is it more important than ever to attend Pride?
The freshly elected Mayor of London.
‘The hideous and cowardly act of terror we saw in Orlando was a brutal attack on LGBT+ people, and an assault on everyone who holds dear our freedoms and our values. I am so proud to be Mayor of a city where people don’t simply tolerate each other, but respect, embrace and celebrate their differences.
‘It is more important than ever that we fight intolerance and inequality. That is why I will be proudly marching at this year’s London Pride event, alongside the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community and many others from all backgrounds, to celebrate the triumph of inclusiveness and acceptance that has become one of the iconic festivals of our city and underlines the capital’s reputation as one of the most LGBT-friendly cities on the planet.’
Olympic and world boxing champion.
‘Pride has provided a lot of support to a lot of people globally. It was tragic to see the community targeted in Orlando last week. I didn’t really do the whole “coming out” thing – I was just me, and it was just kind of accepted. I think the more people feel comfortable in their own skin – and are happy to be who they are and not feel it’s going to stop them moving up in their career – that’s the way forward.’
Actor, activist and wizard.
‘Pride in London is a party and that needs no excuse. But Pride is also a parade, a march, a chance to bear witness, to declare our solidarity with each other as LGBT people - and our allies.
‘For decades we have argued for our right to be treated equally under the law, so that now UK is one of the safest countries for our kind to work and play. Don’t you agree we now have a responsibility to spread the message across the far reaches of Europe? To those Commonwealth countries where homosexuality is still illegal under old colonial law? To India, Russia and China where old prejudices die hard? Today, even Florida needs our message, our confidence that a lone gunman cannot halt history nor the inevitable advance that generations of North American activists have achieved.
‘So let Pride be fun. Be proud to be British and gay. And let us be internationalists too, joining the fight of others faraway to share our equality. They will be watching. The more we are the merrier and the more the stronger!’
James Hillard of Horse Meat Disco
DJ and promoter of one of the greatest gay nights in London.
‘The Orlando massacre is the latest in an all-too-grim litany of recent hate crimes against LGBT people across the world. The sense of unity shown in the wake of Orlando has shown our global community to be strong, compassionate, proud! Pride is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to stamp out homophobia and transphobia wherever it rears its head. As shown in the fight against HIV/AIDS and the ongoing battle for equality in law and in society, when we come together, we are formidable.’
Author, academic and expert on gender and relationships.
‘It’s more important than ever to attend Pride this year to demonstrate the diversity within our community. We’re reminded again and again how the most marginalised amongst us bear the brunt of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic violence and prejudice – particularly queer and trans people of colour.
‘Bi and trans people suffer the highest rates of distress because of the constant erasure of the biggest group within LGBT, and the social stigma around any kind of gender variance. Let’s take the opportunity of Pride to put marginalised voices front and centre, and to show the world that we won’t stop until everybody is free from discrimination and valued equally.’
Veteran campaigner for LGBT+ rights.
‘We need to demand tougher action to tackle the intolerance that leads to hate crimes like the Orlando massacre and the hundreds of homophobic attacks that happen in London every year. The UK government refuses to make it mandatory for schools to provide LGBTI-inclusive sex and relationship education and diversity lessons to challenge homophobic, biphobic and transphobic prejudice. Nearly half of all UK schools have no anti-bullying programme that specifically addresses anti-LGBTI bullying. A quarter of adults still believe that homosexuality is mostly or always wrong. Pride must be more than a party. We need to reaffirm the need for stronger government action to defend and support the LGBTI communities.’
Tegan & Sara
Canadian sister act who just released their eighth album.
‘Pride is about celebrating the great beauty and wide diversity of our LGBTQIA+ community. It’s also a time to remember and reflect on the devastating losses our community has suffered. Why do we need Pride parades and events? To grieve, to support, to empower, and to show the world that we won't be silent. We have, we will, and we must stand up against fear, hate, and injustice. This Pride season we celebrate and mourn. In doing so we honor those lives lost while also reveling in how far we have come, how much has changed, and how strong we are.’
Mhairi Black MP
The 21-year-old member for Paisley and Renfrewshire South.
‘Pride is a very important event every single year, but following the tragic and horrific events in Orlando it is even more imperative that we go out together and show that we are not afraid. To allow this attack to silence us is to allow the attackers to win. We have to go Pride and show everyone that we are proud and we are strong, because we are. I am proud to be part of the LGBTQ community and I will not allow small-minded people to change that.’
Read Andrew Garfield’s moving reflections on Orlando
The 'Spider-Man' actor, who appeared at the Soho vigil for Orlando this week, has penned a heartfelt essay for Time Out about love, acceptance and unity