An estimated 25,000 people attended London Pride on 7 July, including delegations from many trade unions.
The march was lively and colourful, and despite (or perhaps because of) the fiasco around its organisation, there was an atmosphere of political discussion about the nature of the event and the direction of LGBT politics in London.
Workers’ Liberty held a “Proud to be Radical” meeting in central London following the march, with speakers including RMT member and LGBT activist Paul Penny, sex worker activist Thierry Schauffhauser, and Unison rep Lynne Moffat. The meeting discussed the work of LGBT activists in unions, LGBT rights internationally, the impacts of austerity, homophobia in Britain, marriage, religion, Queer Theory, capitalism, and more. At points the discussion was very honest, personal and moving. We also discussed the politics of Pride at great length.
Workers’ Liberty members who are also LGBT activists are now discussing how to help establish an ongoing and visible working-class, anti-capitalist presence within Pride and wider LGBT politics. We want to update our pamphlet Radical Chains, and produce more literature about revolutionary LGBT politics in Solidarity and other publications.
We also want to continue working with other groups with whom we have some political common ground on these issues, including Queer Strike, Queer Resistance, and rank-and-file militants within trade union LGBT sections.
Around 90 LGBT community activists attended an open meeting on Monday 16 July convened by the TUC to discuss the future of LGBT Pride London following this years’ scaled-down event (7 July).
The meeting was optimistic and constructive, notwithstanding some speakers expressing their anger and frustration at this years’ World Pride organisational debacle.
The interim, self-appointed Pride London Chair, Tony Hughes, told the meeting that “a new Pride London board will be elected or appointed in August “, that “clearly there are some issues” and “it is about the right balance”.
This prompted many questions from the floor. How is the board formed and who elects the board? What kind of accountability? How is Pride to reach out to all of sections of the community? Why not a formal election involving the LGBT community? What sort of model is needed to organise Pride?
Peter Burton, TUC Equal Rights Policy Officer, explained that the TUC is not currently involved in Pride board but believes that LGBT Pride London should be free, inclusive and representative, have a campaigning edge, be community-led.
There was a general consensus in the meeting on this set of principles.
It was agreed the TUC would call a follow-up meeting in early September. Tony Hughes agreed to postpone the Pride London Board meeting till later in September.