Pride at Tap

Pride Festival Shows London's Colours

Greg Bowman

The Forest City has a lot to be proud of. The London Pride Parade reaching its 25th anniversary during this year’s London Pride Festival – pride may be an understatement.

London Pride 2019 kicked off on Thursday evening with a series of events, which is a theme for this year’s festival.

“We’re really excited that this year we have 11 days with over 43 events,” said President of Pride London, Andrew Rosser, at the opening reception held at the TAP Centre for Creativity downtown. “Tonight, we’re just kicking it off with the Pride after Five and the art show and karaoke, and that’s just three of the events that are kicking off.”

The slew of events on the opening day is set to establish a busy weekend all over London. This weekend, there will be the Family Pride Weekend for Pride supporters of all ages to enjoy, with educational events going on throughout next week, all leading up to the Weekend in the Park which is capped off with the 25th Pride Parade.

The quarter-century mark for the parade marks a long history for LGBT2Q+ members: “Every pride celebration starts as a riot and in London it was no different,” explained Rosser, “with our community, and having a mayor that didn’t proclaim our festival, as a Pride festival – as a city festival.” The first Pride March in London took place in 1995, when Dianne Haskett, who was the mayor at the time, condemned the parade. The march then proceeded to direct itself past the home of Haskett, throwing glitter on the hedges of her front yard.

“To see it 25 years later, and to see the mayor marching with over 100 of city colleagues, over 120 organizations and groups taking part. It’s going to be our biggest parade ever,” gleaned Rosser, who has had his hand Pride London festival for the past nine years.

This is just one of many pride celebrations that have taken place during the month of July, with Western University raising the rainbow flag on Monday, with new President Alan Shepard – an openly gay man – in attendance, giving a speech.

From the Stonewall Riots 50 years, ago, gay marriage being legal across the US and Canada, the LGBT2Q+ community has come a long way in a short time. While there is still much to be achieved - such as gaining a better public understanding of trans and non-binary people, among other goals – the 25-year mark is a monumental milestone for the London Pride Parade to reach. There is ample corporate funding for this year’s festival, with the opening reception on Thursday turning out an incredibly healthy crowd.