Leeds Pride over the last few years has seen a steady increase in the level of politics amongst those attending the event and these politics haven’t just focused on issues directly affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) individuals but been strongly anti-cuts in general.
These politics have come in sharp contrast with the Pride organisers who remain happy keeping Pride a “carnival” filled with corporate sponsors and music and nothing else, even when pushed out of its traditional venue to a much, much smaller one in favour of the Olympics (the Olympic annexed venue had maybe a few dozen people in it the day of Pride compared to the thousands attending Pride).
Yet, the return of a more political, anti-cuts elements of the march, echoing Pride’s origins as a political protest in the wake of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, have been the most well received parts of the march, with people clapping and cheering as the anti-cuts contingent went past last year.
This year’s Pride again built on previous years with huge anger being present. Obviously a large amount of the anger was directed at equal marriage with people angrily shouting “I don’t want a marriage if I can’t call it that!” The Socialist Party’s call for not only equal marriage rights for all but also a decent living standard after marriage received a fantastic echo as people came up to talk to us about their fears about the housing benefit reforms, privatisation of the NHS, and especially young people’s fear of falling out of societies safety net due to the cuts. We were so well received that even when a hailstorm emptied Pride people were still coming to us to sign our petitions and get copies of the new LGBTQ pamphlet.
While we will continue to fight to make Pride back into a protest we also recognise that LGBTQ liberation can’t be achieved though a yearly events, it’s only by uniting the LGBTQ liberation movement with women’s and other minority rights movements as well as the mass of the working class to fight back against the cuts and Capitalism that has created the environment that these attacks as well as homophobia, sexism & racism can occur that liberation can truly be achieved.