Sopranos Abigail and Clare have taken part in London Pride before, but not with the Pinkies. Here are their accounts of what it meant to them.
I don’t often start my Saturdays at 7am, but on the 25 June I made an exception. With a 9:45am call time for the Pinkies’ sound check on the stage in Trafalgar Square, I could barely sleep the night before!
There was something very surreal about the whole day. It was my third Pride, but my first with the Pink Singers, and I was right to be excited. The day began with singing 90 seconds of Pride in London’s 2016 anthem on stage whilst wondering if it was really happening, and it only got better.
As for many in the LGBT+ community, Pride is one of the highlights of my year. Apart from the fact that it gives me a chance to wear a sequined corset, neon fishnets and a rainbow tutu in public without feeling out of place, it’s the one day of the year that the whole city is out of force, singing, chanting, marching and even just standing in solidarity with the ‘controversial’ idea that everyone should have the right to be themselves and love who they love. And my goodness was I ready to sing.
The singing started long before the marching for us! As we gathered near the head of the parade waiting to start off, we couldn’t help doing a few performances for our neighbours – including a particularly special rendition of Blow Gabriel Blow accompanied by the London Gay Symphonic Winds.
The thing which really stood out to me about the parade itself (apart from the fact that I was part of a 90-voice LGBT+ choir singing as we marched through central London, of course) was that we were right behind the US Embassy’s bus.
At Pride 2015, I marched with Keshet UK, is a Jewish LGBT charity, and we found ourselves near the US Embassy bus as well, but the circumstances felt very different. Last year, Pride was happening the day after the US Supreme Court ruling on equalising marriage, and the air was full of celebration. This year, we were marching in the shadow of 49 of our family being murdered in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando fewer than two weeks before.
It’s amazing, though, the show of strength everyone experienced. Orlando was in everyone’s minds, but showing that everything continues as normal was, for me, the most important thing for our community to do.
It was a powerful statement for us as a choir, then, when we stepped up on the Trafalgar Square stage later that afternoon to sing the specially-commissioned anthem Together. The song speaks of honouring those before us who fought (and sometimes died) for our freedoms, but also of looking to the future with hope for what’s to come. There could never be a more important message to send out in light of recent events:
Together we have the chance to be who we are,
Together we are stronger,
Together we are Pride.
For me personally, I am so grateful that I got to spend so much of Pride with the Pinkies. June, which began with our summer concert and also had the impromptu #SingForOrlando benefit concert, ended with us singing in front of thousands in central London. Pride took me full circle, as I first heard of the Pinkies two years ago when I saw them perform at Pride 2014, my first Pride. Now I get to stand with them, Together.
I’ve gone to London Pride before but only as a spectator. Since
coming out I’ve always wanted to march in the parade but never had the opportunity till now. Since Joining the Pink Singers last season I’ve been involved with many gigs and concerts but this was different. I had the chance to march in the parade to be a part of something truly amazing. from beginning to end. It certainly lived up to its expectation plus the weather held out to.
I decided to march at the front of the parade; I wanted to stand tall be proud of who I was and what I was part of. I felt famous waving to the crowds that have gathered to witness this special day. It felt great reliving some of the concert songs plus having the audience join in was really special.
Everyone was really supportive and I couldn’t help but take lots of selfies! The Pink Singers made Pride a very special day for me and I will look forward to what’s ahead.