On Saturday 7 July, a month of Pride related events culminated with the annual parade through London’s West End, from Portland Place to Whitehall. As promised it was the most diverse Pride in London Parade yet. Thousand of people took part with many more watching from the pavements enjoying the party atmosphere. Businesses and government buildings along the route were flying the Rainbow flag.
But the event is far removed from early days of LGBT public visibility and protest for equal rights. Here are a few significant highlights on that long and often difficult road:
1972: First British Gay Pride Rally: 1000 people march from Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park
1975: Thames Television screen the ground-breaking drama, The Naked Civil Servant, portraying the life of gay icon Quentin Crisp.
1984: Newly elected MP Chris Smith declares, “My name is Chris Smith and I’m gay”, making him the first openly gay politician in Britain
1987: Princess Diana makes a point of not wearing gloves when shaking hands with patients in hospital AIDS wards
2000: The government scraps the policy barring gay men and women from the Armed Forces
2001: Age of consent for gay sex is lowered to 16
2002: Same-sex couples are granted equal rights to adopt
2004: Gender Recognition Act gives transsexual people legal recognition
2005: First Civil Partnership between two men
2014: Same-sex marriage becomes legal throughout the UK; Queen Elizabeth II praises London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard on its 40th anniversary.
Why not celebrate Pride with an LGBT themed tour of bohemian Soho – learn of the men and women who lived, worked and loved in the area – or meet those brave individuals throughout history who flouted sexual convention with an LGBT tour of the National Portrait Gallery.