Pride is London is too commercial - really? Pride is well resourced, marketing is at an astonishing level, London in the weeks running up to Pride is away with rainbows and public open gestures.

So what are the perceived problems?

 

1. It's not about the Community. Then perhaps think about what you are saying to the gathered throng of young people, families and visitors of London when you book your place. I lead the UK Unitarians and I am clear that we are saying loudly and clearly that having won same sex marriage in England and Wales and equal marriage in Scotland, that we are now implementing that in our Chapels up and down the UK. Northern Ireland's refusal by political parties to allow SSM is still a blemish on the map of the UK - but we are clear we are a church movement truly open to the LGBTI communities. To that end we march positively, proudly and for the first time ever in a London Pride we marched with our full church leadership. We may have almost won the legislative battle for same sex marriage, but churches have still to implement it and that's what we are doing. 
2. It's no longer a protest. Really? We march with our church leadership and as an entire UK Unitarian church movement precisely to highlight to ongoing struggles ahead.  We know that by being there as a Church we in turn highlight the refusal and failure of the Church of England at least. Whilst our LGBTI friends in any church face persecution, abuse and bullying I will march as a faith and as a church and I know I speak for many. Politics and religion are at the front line of many battles and I'm not going to stand aside and watch. We UK Unitarians will fight for justice and equality.  And in the language of protest I am always clear that I (we) are marching in the parade,not parading. 
3. It lacks political edge.  The marketing and like is driven by Pride itself and the team that run it and here there is a real chance to develop a nuanced message - as the March is led and opened - so too it could be better closed.  I'm sure for all the right reasons the VIPs are at the front but as the walking group that brought up the end of this years Parade I really feel PRide could look at this better.  There was a real chance to close the parade with a structure group of VIPs, a thank you for the triumphs to date, a set of flags carried by community activists from countries where being LGBTI is a crime, a reminder about the Chechen persecution. This for me would be strong, effective, relatively easy to do and as well as giving people the glory of being at the front would underline the battles still to come and looking ahead. It would also improve the parade immeasurably.
4. That whole community is not reflected.  I get the need to mainstream and build the allies - but pure and simple - those who are traditionally ignored, sidelined and forgotten have to be placed front and centre. My good friend Edward Lord has written eloquently on this. https://edwardlord.org/2017/07/08/why-todays-lgbtq-prideinlondon-is-a-day-of-mixed-emotions-for-me-and-for-many/ I agree with Edward.

5.  And finally the chestnut of it's too commercial.  Somewhere, someone within Pride in London has to make a judgement - but Pride could draw some lines in the sand. And I realise it involves some tough decisions - so here goes for my two pennies.  I like having big corporate companies advocating for me. It make me want to work for a company that is so proud of LGBTI equality.  Likewise the uniformed services do themselves a huge favour in rising to this. But a car and a van from Entreprise Vehicle Hire draped in rainbow bunting did not feel essential to the UKs biggest Pride March.  Equally on companies that buy that space i'm delighted that they give their staff the space to be proud about who they are and that in turn allows people who identify as LGBTI and are less connected to the community to be out and proud.  In many respects I think this inclusion vis the work place should be encouraged.  But a bus laid on by a pub or a club with its customers dancing seems a tad gratuitous to me, doesn't actually advocate community work and I think there could be a tighter rein on this element.

So actually for me - ensure the politics shines through, take the responsibility as a group ourselves, think through not how it starts but how it ends and moves on, enable genuine champions to come forward and close down the use of the parade as chance to just 'be there and gain a marketing window'.

Well done Pride in London 2017, onwards.