About London Pride 2019
Each June there will be two weeks of city-wide celebrations commemorating LGBTI identity and history leading up to the London Pride Parade continuing a tradition spanning nearly 50 years of history.
The first ever Gay Pride march was held in New York City in 1969 in response to the a police raid on an LGBT bar in Greenwich Village, catalyzing violent protests and weeks of activism known as the Stonewall Riots. Organizers in the UK held a small solidarity march the following year, but the first official UK Gay Pride Rally, with 2,000 marchers, was held in July of 1972. By last year, attendance had grown to over one million, and the event itself now stretches an entire fortnight.
During the festival, main stage performances take place in an arena erected at Trafalgar Square, while films, conferences and parties are held at clubs and bars in the LGBT+ district around Soho, as well as other venues throughout the boroughs. Secret Soho Saucy Tours, a big picnic, an LGBT+ Prom, drag shows, plays, cabarets, and musical performances by international gay and lesbian artists, chorals, and symphonies also take place.
The annual Pride’s Got Talent production showcases local, emerging, and unknown musical groups, singers, and cabaret acts. The inclusive, all-abilities competition gives gay, lesbian, bi, trans, and queer contestants the opportunity to perform at the mainstage as well as in front of industry execs, producers, and scouts.
London Pride is the only festival to close the iconic Oxford Street thoroughfare and boasts a multiyear contract with the city authorities, along with mayoral support and dozens of corporate sponsors from Barclays to Facebook to Nando’s. Patrons include Sirs Elton John and Ian McKellen, and tennis star Martina Navratilova.
While the party atmosphere and commercialization have some in the UK's LGBT+ community criticizing the Pride Parade for losing sight of its more militant origins, London Pride is still a place for engaging politically and making your voice heard. It may be one of the biggest musical festivals in Europe, but it’s also a platform to raise awareness about community or global crises, garner support for a cause, or to protest anti-LGBT+ laws and abuse worldwide.
In the past, the festival launched social media movements like the #FreedomTo campaign for increased visibility and acceptance of the LGBTI community and #PrideMatters to call out discrimination. The organizers put on the first World Pride event in 2012, and also hosted the first International Asexual Conference. After anti-trans demonstrators marred the festivities at the 2018 Pride Parade, co-chair Alison Camps promises enhanced security for 2019.
This year’s entertainment is still a mystery, but past performers have included Sophie Ellis-Bextor, George Shelley, Courtney Act, and the London Gay Men’s Chorus. Visitors can expect to see Drag Race and Idol finalists, actors from the stage and film, guest speakers, poets, and artists of all kinds - all reflecting the diversity of London, advocating for equality, and celebrating Pride in their own way.