This year London Pride celebrates everything 1970 because it’s 40 years since the formation of the Gay Liberation Front. The Stonewall Rebellion began in New York in June 1969 and just over a year later the GLF was born. According to the Pride London website “the GLF was a revolutionary group of radical queens, hippies, students and activists who brought LGBT rights out in to the open.” Pink Singer Philip remembers the first GLF march a year later, officially to protest the age of consent:
The march from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square was on 28 August 1971. There were about 1,000 people and the whole thing was lead by a Nigerian drum band. A very tall guy from Sweden grabbed my arm and said ‘I march with you’ and didn’t let go until we reached the Square. I remember we sang Bachelor Boy and My Guy. I felt like a gay Cliff Richard. We were joined by lot of sweet men in drag who sang along. It was possibly the first ever gay men’s chorus! I’ve been singing on Pride marches ever since.
Philip has been marching and singing since the start and is a long serving member of the choir. We’re proud that the choir is made up of old and new members. Last year, on 3 July 2009, when the Pink Singers thrilled the crowd in Trafalgar Square once more, it was Kate’s first Pride:
The best bit of my first Pride was singing on the main stage in Trafalgar Square and seeing thousands of people who had turned up to enjoy the day, being proud of who they were, and everyone belting out the chorus to YMCA. That, and getting my first rainbow-coloured cowboy hat.
The first ever London Gay Pride Rally was held a year after the GLF march on the 1 July 1972 and about 2,000 people came. Times have changed: in 2009 London Pride attracted 1,000,000 visitors. However, many of the original GLF demands from 1970 have still not been met in this country and in many countries throughout the world. In summary, these demands are:
- discrimination against gay people must end
- gay people should be taught that their feelings are normal
- sex education must be inclusive
- homosexuality isn’t a problem or sickness
- communication between gay people should be open and police harassment must stop
- discrimination by employers must stop
- the age of consent should be equal for all
- gay people must be free to hold hands and kiss in public.
Many of the Pink Singers also took part in Malta Pride last year. Our collaboration with a church youth choir resulted in a performance where LGBT people and the Catholic Church joined together to call for equality. And surprise song Hallini brought the house down! The Pinkies’ support for the Pride march showed how much we believe in supporting gay rights internationally. Kate says:
Malta Pride was a much smaller affair than London and it reminded me of how lucky we are in London and the freedom that we have. It drove home how important pride marches are to creating awareness of gay rights. The bravery of the people openly marching in Malta was completely inspiring. But then again the big celebration of gayness at London Pride is no bad thing either!
And now here we are in 2010. The Pink Singers are once again in the Pride parade and also on stage in Trafalgar Square, singing ‘Does your mother know’. There was never a better double entendre to ABBA’s classic song!
Louise Tondeur (with Philip Rescorla and Kate Nicholls)
Timeline datestamp: 03 July 2010