There is something so empowering, so overwhelming – about marching, expressing – having a demonstrative voice. So much of the time there appears a passivity – as if nothing can be done, nothing can change. But from the Stonewall riots 40 years to today’s Pride march in the London sunshine – every gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans individual that has had the courage to stand up against prejudice and fight discrimination – has shown the courage and determination that can change and has changed the world.
I spent the first half of the march at the front with Boris Johnson and Nick Herbert – the policing Minister. Then I walked back through the march to find the Liberal Democrat contingent. They had produced fabulous placards for all of us which said ‘Liberal Democrats – Proud to represent you in Haringey, or Hackney or Richmond or Government or London.
And in the LibDem contingent were lots and lots of LibDems from various boroughs – and then there was Brian Paddick (stood for LibDem mayor of London); Caroline Pidgeon (Leader of the LibDem group on the London Assembly); Ros Scott, (LibDem President); Sarah Ludford (LibDem MEP for London). Ed Fordham (LibDem candidate for Hampstead & Highgate); Ed Butcher, (Councillor in Haringey) and many, many, many more – including Steve Gilbert (MP for St Austell & Newquay).
Then towards 3pm I had to make my way to the stage area in Trafalgar Square where Nick Herbert and I were going to give short speeches. Dr Christian from ’embarassing bodies’ introduced us.
We had decided to go on together – as a double act – so to speak. Nick spoke first and told of his selection and election – and how the selection committee, when he told them he was gay, had said no probs! Nick got a huge cheer when he opened by saying that he was gay. I couldn’t match that – but nevertheless – also got a good reception when I spoke about ending the ridiculous situation where a man who had consensual sex with another male (over 16) 30 years ago would still have that come up on a criminal record check. It goes. And how it wasn’t right and it wasn’t fair that LGB&T people still felt too frightened to report hate crime – three out of four hate crimes still go unreported and what we are going to do to put in the support to encourage reporting. And how it wasn’t right and it wasn’t fair that children, six out of ten children, experience homophobic bullying at school and how we are going to support teachers in tackling this terrible experience which can scar a child for life.
It was a really beautiful day – and I have come home filled with Pride.
PS Huge thanks to the organisers – fantastically well done!