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A beginner’s guide to Pride

First-timer? Here’s your guide to Pride before the parade lands in London

Written by
Nick Levine

Wait. Is Pride in London a parade, a political demonstration or a big party?
All of the above. Pride in London fortnight actually features more than 20 events taking place until Sunday July 7. But the main parade and Pride festival are held this Saturday July 6, in and around Trafalgar Square.

Okay, thanks for clearing that up. So can I march in the parade? 
Sadly, you’re a little late! Only pre-registered groups and people who signed up to be in the individuals section can join the actual parade when it begins at Portland Place at 12pm. But you can always watch from behind the barriers as around 80 floats and 30,000 people wend their way to Whitehall. Be prepared for a bit of a squeeze, almost one million people turned up for Pride in London 2018! 

But is it just for LGBT+ people?
Not at all. Pride is a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community for everyone. If you want to support friends, family members and colleagues who identify as LGBTQ+, feel free to come along. The streets of Soho will be packed with people and general merriment from around midday. Be warned, it’s best to avoid busier central London locations like Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. 

Should I wear a costume?
The choice is yours. If you want to dress up, great and if you can’t be bothered, that’s fine too. Some people go all out, others just throw on a little face glitter. When people think of Pride, they tend to picture slim cisgender white guys wearing hotpants and angel wings, and you’ll definitely see some ‘Angel Gay-briel’ types on the day. But they’re just a drop in the rainbow-coloured ocean. Pride is a time for all LGBTQ+ people to come together, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, body type, class, political allegiance and background.

Pride parade London

Do I have to pay?
Definitely not. Pride in London is completely free (though donations are always welcome). If you want to keep it cheap, pick up a bag of cans from Tesco Metro on Dean Street and see if you can find the a good spot in Soho Square. 

So is it basically a big piss-up, then?
Not necessarily. Sure, some people come to Pride just to drink, catch up with pals and keep it light. But for many others, the event retains the political relevance it had when it began. It’s a chance to raise awareness about under-represented issues. 

What will people be marching for?
Marchers will be heading out to represent a broad range of queer issues: The campaign to make HIV-prevention drug PrEP widely available on the NHS. Better rights and acceptance for trans people. The fact LGBTQ+ people in many parts of the world don’t enjoy basic human rights. Just be respectful and try to remember you’re supporting a community that’s still working to overcome prejudice. The Guardian reported this year that homophobic hate crimes have doubled in England and Wales since 2014, while transphobic offences have almost trebled. We need Pride now more than ever. 

Noted. Is there anything else I need to know?
Just the basics, tbh. Bring water, a hat and an umbrella – we all know the British weather is as changeable as your shadiest mate. And try to relax and have a great time. For the most part, London is one of the world’s most welcoming cities for LGBTQ+ people, with a spectacular LGBTQ+ nightlife, and that’s something really worth celebrating.

More on Pride in London

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From the 2019 parade route and this year’s best after-parties, to the latest Pride in London pop-ups and where to source those all-important rainbow flags, here’s everything you need to know about London’s biggest and best LGBT+ celebration.

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