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Veterans of first ‘Pride’ set to march again

Former Gay Liberation Front activists to celebrate 50th anniversary by following parade route to Trafalgar Square

26 June, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Peter Tatchell: ‘Homophobia did not defeat us, so we’re not going to let the Covid-19 pandemic stop Pride’. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

VETERANS of the original Pride protests will march through Soho tomorrow (Saturday) despite the official event being called off because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The former members of the London Gay Liberation Front 1970-1974, including Peter Tatchell, will march along the route of the official parade down Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus and Haymarket to Trafalgar Square.

It is the 50th anniversary of the GLF campaign for equal rights in the 1970s and 1980s that paved the way for the modern LGBT+ movement.

Mr Tatchell was one of about 40 people who helped set up the first Pride march in London in 1972 and has attended every parade since then.

“Homophobia did not defeat us, so we’re not going to let the Covid-19 pandemic stop Pride,” said Mr Tatchell.

“We GLF veterans confronted anti-LGBT+ bigots 50 years ago. We faced down police harassment, far-right extremists and homophobic political and religious leaders. We are marching as Pride was planned, with face masks and social distancing.”

The march is only for ex-GLF members, many of whom are in their 70s.

Mr Tatchell, who was one of the co-founders of the group, said they would have supported the Black Lives Matter movement just as it did with black protest groups in the early 1970s.

He added: “GLF did not seek equal rights within a flawed, unjust status quo. It campaigned for the transformation of society to end straight supremacism and stood in solidarity with all other oppressed communities.

“This same agenda of radical social transformation is needed now as the UK faces the quadruple whammy of Covid-19, economic meltdown, endemic racism and ­climate destruction,” added Mr Tatchell.

A statement from Pride in London said: “It has not been an easy decision to postpone this year’s Pride in London Parade until 2021, but it is the right thing to do.

“As always, we must prioritise the health and wellbeing of our communities, volunteers and contributors.

“Organising one of the capital’s largest annual events means we need to create a safe environment for everyone who attends the parade or any other events we curate throughout the year.”

The GLF Pride march will leave the BBC in Portland Place at 1pm.

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