Terry Conway from Left Unity introduces a statement from LGSM about this year’s Pride.
Terry Conway writes:
Pride in London 2015 has already aroused a good deal of controversy and attention – and it’s still a few weeks away. Below we carry a statement from Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) on why they will not be leading the parade this year as they had hoped, following the failure of the Pride in London board to understand anything about the meaning of the film Pride. They wanted to use the kudos of the film to their own ends without taking on board the first principle of solidarity – that unity is strength. In the meantime the board did reverse a previous decision to allow UKIP to register a group for the march in the face of massive protests led by NUS LGBTQ activists.
All of this means that it’s particularly important that there is a massive turn out this year, preferably with trade union banners. Pride was born as protest in response to police repression – it’s in those roots, and those of LGSM, that it derives its strength.
Further statement from LGSM regarding Pride 2015, 6 June 2015
“In response to the comments that our earlier posting has prompted from our friends and supporters, LGSM would like to clarify the reasons why we decided not to lead the Pride in London (PiL) Parade and to move to Bloc C and join our trade union allies and wider supporter network.
As people will be aware from the film ‘Pride’, the 1985 Pride parade was led by LGSM and members of the South Wales mining communities who responded to the support that LGSM gave them during the 1984-5 strike. On the 30th anniversary of that event we were keen to commemorate it by once again demonstrating the solidarity that brought about a major shift towards LGBT rights in this country.
In 2015 we feel there is a greater need than ever for solidarity between those fighting against all forms of oppression and injustice, and for the liberation of LGBT people. When Pride in London asked us to lead the parade we naturally welcomed the opportunity to replicate not only the actions but also the spirit of the 1985 parade, and to become a point of attraction for trade unions, student and youth groups and other campaigning organisations.
Over the last few years many people have become concerned about the increasingly higher profile of major private corporations on Pride, both in terms of sponsorship and their prominence in the parade itself, and were excited by the prospect of this Pride having a different atmosphere and focus because of LGSM’s role in heading the march. We fully understand, therefore, the sense of disappointment and frustration felt by so many of our friends and supporters now that this has changed.
Discussions between LGSM and the PiL Board revolved around two issues: the numbers in our contingent at the head of the Parade; and the position of the trade unions and our wider supporter network. Requests at one stage that our contingent be only 50 people were not acceptable and this was successfully negotiated upwards to nearer 300. LGSM then reluctantly accepted that our contingent would not be in one block, but we had the understanding, possibly as a result of miscommunication, that our other supporters would be marching as close as possible behind us, separated only by a group of flag-bearers.
When the order of parade was published on 21st May, we were very surprised to discover that the trade unions, students and other supporters would be located in Bloc C, some way behind LGSM. This would mean that LGSM would be arriving at Trafalgar Square when our supporters were still at the Parade assembly point in Baker Street. This was not acceptable to us and we appealed strongly to PiL to reconsider and to move the TU section nearer to the Head of Parade. At the PiL Open Meeting on 1st June, it was clear that our appeal was not going to be accepted by PiL and we therefore felt that we had no alternative but to withdraw from leading the Parade and propose that LGSM move to Bloc C, as an act of solidarity with our growing number of friends and supporters. This request was accepted by PiL.
We would like to make it clear that we are working to ensure that issues of LGBT liberation, class politics, trade unionism, solidarity and wider anti-austerity and other struggles will be raised on the march and that we remain determined to bring a different character to this year’s Pride.
We will be marching at the head of the trade union section alongside the re-formed Swansea, Neath and Dulais Valley Miners Support group with their miners’ banners, the Tredegar Town Brass Band (as seen in the movie), and the South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus. The Mark Ashton Trust will also be marching with us, as well as our supporters of all ages who are travelling from all over the country and the world to join us. Our trademark ‘Pits and Perverts’ t-shirts, badges and other merchandise will be on sale and we hope to make a united, inclusive and vibrant intervention in the parade. We hope we will see many of you on the day.
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