Choose a different region if you want to see the content for your location and shop online. We recommend:

Your cart

Oh no, your cart is empty

June 19,2020

by Madeline Reid

PRIDE: A Party and a Protest

In the era of the coronavirus, travelling and gathering are not options for many. Neither is guzzling cans of cheap booze on the streets of Soho with rain-sodden hair and glitter across our cheeks, watching drag queen talent shows and dancing to a dirty remix of Cher or Madonna. And yet, Pride month is upon us. 

Gay bars, drag shows, concerts, performances and galleries are among the places and spaces that have long fostered camaraderie and community among LGBTQ+ people. Connections so often centred on in-person events, particularly in urban areas, so the cancellation of most major Pride events this year due to quarantines and social distancing measures was deeply felt by queer communities around the world. 

In addition to the global pandemic, the uprisings in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Tony McDade by police officers have sparked new energy and urgency for political activism. The movement for racial equality, for justice for black lives, for police abolition, for black history education and for the destruction of systemic racism is rightfully at the forefront of discourse both on and offline. 

And, in what feels like an unrelinquishing cycle of bad news, Pride celebrations are taking on a greater significance this year. That’s because the Pride that we have come to recognise – one of parades, parties, and painful hangovers – has a history deeply rooted in protest.

Queer Dot

“I think that with everything that has been going on with the Black Lives Matter movement, we all need to recognise that without Black queers we would have no Pride,” says Grace Goslin, one half of queer-led music activism group Femme Collective. “Marsha P Johnson's efforts to fight for equality and justice have helped every single LGBTQ+ person, and it is our responsibility to know our history.”

It is thanks to gay rights activists such as Marsha P Johnson, a black trans woman whose body was discovered floating in the Hudson River shortly after New York Pride festivities in 1992, and all those who participated in the Stonewall riots, that LGBTQ+ people are now able to live openly and without fear of being persecuted due to their sexuality in some countries. 

“As queer people, we need to remember who the people at the front of Stonewall were and they were black trans people. They are the reason why many gay men and women have the protections they have today, so I encourage people to remember this and be an ally,” says Steven Wilson, co-chair of Dundee-based arts collective The Queer Dot.

But, as we have similarly witnessed with the recent resurgence of momentum behind the Black Lives Matter movement this month, there is much work still to be done on both a local and global scale.

The Sunday Times reported last weekend that Johnson plans to scrap long-delayed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) – the process that transgender people have, since 2004, used to update the gender marker on their birth certificates – and instead bring in “new protections” for women’s spaces that would bar trans women from using them. 

This has led to outrage from LGBTQ+ campaigners, charities and politicians – many of whom have pointed out that this attack on trans rights coming in the midst of global protests against racism and police brutality and the continuing coronavirus pandemic is all the more devastating, especially since BIPOC trans women face the most discrimination in healthcare, their careers, by the police and as victims of major crimes.

Similar anti-trans legislation has been passed in the US, narrowing the legal definition of sex discrimination in the Affordable Care Act so that it omits protections for transgender people. And in Poland, President Andrzej Duda has pledged to ban LGBTQ+ education in schools, as well as blocking the legalisation of same-sex marriage and adoption.

Grace at Pride - Femme Collective

“It’s been a horrible year,” says Jakub, who did not want to use his own name, a gay youth living in Kraków, Poland. The European country has now declared one-third of the country as ‘LGBT-free zones’ after a series of municipalities adopted resolutions “against LGBT propaganda” or “pro-family”, creating hostile spaces for anyone who is not heterosexual or within a so-called “natural family”.

“The last two Pride parades have been banned because they think we pose a threat to public security,” Jakub explains. “The idea they have is that we will poison their children’s minds – it’s so stupid. What is really annoying is that politicians use the anti-LGBT propaganda to help them win elections… they don’t even care about us, they just care about winning votes and having power.”

With the pandemic quarantine cancelling most major in-person Pride events this year, some see this as the perfect time to reconsider what makes Pride so important, and what is infringing on the protest.

“I normally prefer to be half glass full,” says Steven, “however, this year I feel Pride month is not a celebration – it is a protest as the Trump administration and the UK Tory government are keen to push trans rights backwards. I will be signing petitions and going to any pro-trans protests whenever the situation allows. Pride for me is not a celebration until everyone in the queer community has equality.”

DJ and co-founder of Queer House Party Harry Gay says, “Over the past decade, Pride has moved away from centring campaigning for social and political change and shifted toward whichever corporation has the biggest budget to splurge on getting in the gold, silver, and bronze sponsorship categories - putting their huge and expensive rainbow covered floats at the front of the parade while the community groups are pushed to the back.”

Queer House Party is an LGBTQ+ live-streamed party hosted weekly on Zoom. Born on the first Friday of lockdown, Queer House Party started with the aim of bringing solidarity and release to their community, and has seen hundreds of users party together every week into the early hours.

“People criticise Pride and its attendees for being a big party but I personally do not feel that that is the problem - Pride can be both a celebration of our identities and a protest against structures that marginalise them,” he says. “Queer parties have always been political in essence and this anti-party narrative distracts from the fact that Pride has become highly commercialised – it’s about profits, not people. Every year I have been involved in different campaigns that have attempted to take on pink washed Pride and the corporations it platforms and accepts money from. We are demanding space for queer people seeking asylum. We have demanded that corporations change their inhumane policies if they want to take part – and we have succeeded.”

No matter how well-intentioned a brand campaign, collaboration or donation may seem, capitalist support should never dampen the spirit and mission of Pride: to remind community members and allies that they are not alone, but part of a greater push for equality, and to elevate the voices and causes central to LGBTQ+ people and other marginalized groups. 

As Pride is both a party and a protest, what are these queer communities doing to celebrate and support?

Queer House Party will be putting on a 6-hour pride party and protest, gearing attendees up for the weekend of actions planned across London such as placard making. Six performers, along with guest DJs and a lot of dancing, will bring the Pride party into households around the world.

Harry says, “Get online and support events run by the community. Avoid events with sponsors that you don’t want to support. Hold pride events accountable for making money for or platforming bigots.”

“So far, I have no official plans,” says Grace Goslin, “but I'm excited to see how people will take pride online. The LGBTQ+ community are excellent at adapting to a current situation (take lockdown) and making it just as special and inclusive as if we were at a bar or a club.”

QUEER HOUSE PARTY - artwork by Freddelanka

For anyone looking for ways to support the queer community during this time, she says donating money to queer-run projects, businesses and events is the greatest way to fuel the community during a time that has left many financially insecure. “Big brands love to constantly take queer culture and make it marketable when queer people have been doing this independently for years. Lift up queer voices, and consider donating to a cause that helps people within your community. As a queer ally, you have just as much of a responsibility to look after the LGBTQI+ community, as the community itself.”

Jakub says due to the political climate in Poland he’ll be keeping a low profile this Pride, but thanks to digital streaming events and social media he’ll be able to participate in his own way from home. He says, “I think that LGBT people’s resilience is amazing, we’re so fearless, there’s nothing that can stop us celebrating who we are and who we love.”

June 19,2020

by Madeline Reid

PRIDE: A Party and a Protest

In the era of the coronavirus, travelling and gathering are not options for many. Neither is guzzling cans of cheap booze on the streets of Soho with rain-sodden hair and glitter across our cheeks, watching drag queen talent shows and dancing to a dirty remix of Cher or Madonna. And yet, Pride month is upon us. 

Gay bars, drag shows, concerts, performances and galleries are among the places and spaces that have long fostered camaraderie and community among LGBTQ+ people. Connections so often centred on in-person events, particularly in urban areas, so the cancellation of most major Pride events this year due to quarantines and social distancing measures was deeply felt by queer communities around the world. 

In addition to the global pandemic, the uprisings in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Tony McDade by police officers have sparked new energy and urgency for political activism. The movement for racial equality, for justice for black lives, for police abolition, for black history education and for the destruction of systemic racism is rightfully at the forefront of discourse both on and offline. 

And, in what feels like an unrelinquishing cycle of bad news, Pride celebrations are taking on a greater significance this year. That’s because the Pride that we have come to recognise – one of parades, parties, and painful hangovers – has a history deeply rooted in protest.

Queer Dot

“I think that with everything that has been going on with the Black Lives Matter movement, we all need to recognise that without Black queers we would have no Pride,” says Grace Goslin, one half of queer-led music activism group Femme Collective. “Marsha P Johnson's efforts to fight for equality and justice have helped every single LGBTQ+ person, and it is our responsibility to know our history.”

It is thanks to gay rights activists such as Marsha P Johnson, a black trans woman whose body was discovered floating in the Hudson River shortly after New York Pride festivities in 1992, and all those who participated in the Stonewall riots, that LGBTQ+ people are now able to live openly and without fear of being persecuted due to their sexuality in some countries. 

“As queer people, we need to remember who the people at the front of Stonewall were and they were black trans people. They are the reason why many gay men and women have the protections they have today, so I encourage people to remember this and be an ally,” says Steven Wilson, co-chair of Dundee-based arts collective The Queer Dot.

But, as we have similarly witnessed with the recent resurgence of momentum behind the Black Lives Matter movement this month, there is much work still to be done on both a local and global scale.

The Sunday Times reported last weekend that Johnson plans to scrap long-delayed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) – the process that transgender people have, since 2004, used to update the gender marker on their birth certificates – and instead bring in “new protections” for women’s spaces that would bar trans women from using them. 

This has led to outrage from LGBTQ+ campaigners, charities and politicians – many of whom have pointed out that this attack on trans rights coming in the midst of global protests against racism and police brutality and the continuing coronavirus pandemic is all the more devastating, especially since BIPOC trans women face the most discrimination in healthcare, their careers, by the police and as victims of major crimes.

Similar anti-trans legislation has been passed in the US, narrowing the legal definition of sex discrimination in the Affordable Care Act so that it omits protections for transgender people. And in Poland, President Andrzej Duda has pledged to ban LGBTQ+ education in schools, as well as blocking the legalisation of same-sex marriage and adoption.

Grace at Pride - Femme Collective

“It’s been a horrible year,” says Jakub, who did not want to use his own name, a gay youth living in Kraków, Poland. The European country has now declared one-third of the country as ‘LGBT-free zones’ after a series of municipalities adopted resolutions “against LGBT propaganda” or “pro-family”, creating hostile spaces for anyone who is not heterosexual or within a so-called “natural family”.

“The last two Pride parades have been banned because they think we pose a threat to public security,” Jakub explains. “The idea they have is that we will poison their children’s minds – it’s so stupid. What is really annoying is that politicians use the anti-LGBT propaganda to help them win elections… they don’t even care about us, they just care about winning votes and having power.”

With the pandemic quarantine cancelling most major in-person Pride events this year, some see this as the perfect time to reconsider what makes Pride so important, and what is infringing on the protest.

“I normally prefer to be half glass full,” says Steven, “however, this year I feel Pride month is not a celebration – it is a protest as the Trump administration and the UK Tory government are keen to push trans rights backwards. I will be signing petitions and going to any pro-trans protests whenever the situation allows. Pride for me is not a celebration until everyone in the queer community has equality.”

DJ and co-founder of Queer House Party Harry Gay says, “Over the past decade, Pride has moved away from centring campaigning for social and political change and shifted toward whichever corporation has the biggest budget to splurge on getting in the gold, silver, and bronze sponsorship categories - putting their huge and expensive rainbow covered floats at the front of the parade while the community groups are pushed to the back.”

Queer House Party is an LGBTQ+ live-streamed party hosted weekly on Zoom. Born on the first Friday of lockdown, Queer House Party started with the aim of bringing solidarity and release to their community, and has seen hundreds of users party together every week into the early hours.

“People criticise Pride and its attendees for being a big party but I personally do not feel that that is the problem - Pride can be both a celebration of our identities and a protest against structures that marginalise them,” he says. “Queer parties have always been political in essence and this anti-party narrative distracts from the fact that Pride has become highly commercialised – it’s about profits, not people. Every year I have been involved in different campaigns that have attempted to take on pink washed Pride and the corporations it platforms and accepts money from. We are demanding space for queer people seeking asylum. We have demanded that corporations change their inhumane policies if they want to take part – and we have succeeded.”

No matter how well-intentioned a brand campaign, collaboration or donation may seem, capitalist support should never dampen the spirit and mission of Pride: to remind community members and allies that they are not alone, but part of a greater push for equality, and to elevate the voices and causes central to LGBTQ+ people and other marginalized groups. 

As Pride is both a party and a protest, what are these queer communities doing to celebrate and support?

Queer House Party will be putting on a 6-hour pride party and protest, gearing attendees up for the weekend of actions planned across London such as placard making. Six performers, along with guest DJs and a lot of dancing, will bring the Pride party into households around the world.

Harry says, “Get online and support events run by the community. Avoid events with sponsors that you don’t want to support. Hold pride events accountable for making money for or platforming bigots.”

“So far, I have no official plans,” says Grace Goslin, “but I'm excited to see how people will take pride online. The LGBTQ+ community are excellent at adapting to a current situation (take lockdown) and making it just as special and inclusive as if we were at a bar or a club.”

QUEER HOUSE PARTY - artwork by Freddelanka

For anyone looking for ways to support the queer community during this time, she says donating money to queer-run projects, businesses and events is the greatest way to fuel the community during a time that has left many financially insecure. “Big brands love to constantly take queer culture and make it marketable when queer people have been doing this independently for years. Lift up queer voices, and consider donating to a cause that helps people within your community. As a queer ally, you have just as much of a responsibility to look after the LGBTQI+ community, as the community itself.”

Jakub says due to the political climate in Poland he’ll be keeping a low profile this Pride, but thanks to digital streaming events and social media he’ll be able to participate in his own way from home. He says, “I think that LGBT people’s resilience is amazing, we’re so fearless, there’s nothing that can stop us celebrating who we are and who we love.”