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    First Published: July 2003
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.

After last year's disastrous Mardi Gras celebration in Hackney what happened in Hyde Park on Saturday 26th July was really make or break for London's annual Pride Party.

And while the rain was such a shame, the organisers did just enough to ensure the event's survival.

60,000 people marched through London to celebrate gay pride and one 62 year old who'd been to every march for 26 years said "It's changed enormously in that time. Sometimes there were only 2,000 people; now there's over 50,000. Once upon a time people watching were rather hostile - now everyone's applauding."
Normally the mainstream media ignore the Parade, but this year's decision by the Metropolitan Police to allow gay and lesbian officers to march in uniform has made headlines. In case you missed it Commander Brian Paddick, who was responsible for a softly softly approach to cannabis offences when he was in charge of policing Brixton, led the Parade.
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Equal Rights Campaigners Stonewall, told the crowd: "This year, lesbian, gay and bisexual people haven't been shunted off to the outskirts of the city to celebrate Pride - we've been given centre stage at Hyde Park. This year's Pride has shown how far we've come over the last few decades."
As for the Pride In The Park event itself, the organisers probably can't win. Already people are complaining "25 to enter the Pride In The Park, 3 for for half a pint, 7 for chips and Burgers ...No fun fair, limited pop artists with smaller stage, less toilets, Larger queues for vouchers and everything for sale at over inflated prices...It was obviously scaled down this year but I think the gay community was ripped off big time. It appears someone got rich this year as usual"

The organisers themselves say that the event costs 1.5 million to stage and any profits from this year will go towards paying off losses from last year - "The idea that Mardi Gras and Pride is profitable is ludicrous".

So is the alternative to have no celebration after the March and just allow everybody to go off to various clubs and bars. For a major world city like London to have no Gay Pride party would be crazy. The real problem is that Pride supporters Ken Livingstone and the Greater London Authority are not allowed to offer the kind of financial support to Pride events that cities like Amsterdam and San Francisco do. Perhaps its time the organisers should make a big effort to get a Lottery Grant which could subsidise the community elements of the Festival.

So what did you think of the event? Send us an email to malebox@outuk.com. Here are some of your views


Chris writes: ...a step in the right direction and I'm sure that lessons will be learnt for future years. As a first time at Hyde Park though, I'd say well done to the organisers...


Leith says: ...I got to steward for the Parade as a volunteer, and I thought it was great. All the people, not only in the Parade but also on the streets, everyone from old people to very young babies. The atmosphere was also great and I think the Parade went really well. I was not here for the one last year, so I cannot compare it to that, but I did go to the one in Sydney when I was back in Australia and that was just as good. Stewarding has its rewards and I will volunteer next year and every year that I am available for it for as long as I possibly can. That is the way I feel about the Parade and the Party, even if it does mean that I have to suffer with getting a FREE ticket to the Party.

The party, well that was different. One of the other stewards and I stayed for about half an hour. We had a couple of pints, and then left. Not due to anything that the organisers had done or arranged we just decided that we wanted to go and get drink elsewhere.

All I can say is roll on Europride and Mardi Gras 2004!


Andy writes: ...I agree with OutUK. The Party wasn't the best and it was a shame about the rain. But after the Parade you have to go somewhere and you couldn't have 60,000 rammed into Old Compton Street...

Photography ©2003 Out Europe Ltd and Fred Pieau. All Rights Reserved.

Amsterdam Pride 2003
Manchester EuroPride 2003

 

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