Somewhere in-between 20,000 to 30,000 people have attended the Pride Parade in London, England, hitting a record number as it amassed a historic crowd this year. Enormous amounts of people turned out for the 2014 Pride Parade in the capital city of England, despite the sheets of rain that pelted down on them in the beginning of the parade. The event started on Baker Street, progressed onto Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus, Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square before winding up and ending in Whitehall.
The event this year is themed “Freedom to Be Oneself” and has amassed a record crowd this year. A ceremony at the end was highlighted by the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest winner, Conchita Wurst. She hit the stage later in the afternoon; around 5pm, London, England time. She was initiated into the celebrations by Sir Ian McKellen, as well as English singers Sam and Sinitta Bailey. The chairperson of the Pride Parade in London, England, states that they chose Conchita because she represented the freedom and power to be oneself.
As a winner of such an important event as the Singing Contest, Conchita has raised awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities not only across Europe, but around the world, and has also sent a valuable political sign of things to come. She is quoted as saying “Let us be proud about who we are” as well as “Let us give a statement about respect, tolerance and love.” The Mayor of London, England, Boris Johnson, has stated that London is becoming increasingly LGBT friendly, as testament by the record crowd that has amassed in the streets for the Pride Parade.
However, Mayor Johnson did not attend the Pride Parade, for the third straight year. Yet he also pointed out that due to recent attacks against people who identify LGBT, there is still more that needs to be done. He goes on to say that people who identify as LGBT should have the confidence they need to report such hate crimes, and rest in the knowledge that their reports are being taken seriously by police. He assures them that such crimes will be relentlessly pursued by the local authorities.
However, abuse of people who identify as LGBT in sports is still a huge factor. A survey, which consisted of 30,000 fans of football in 29 different countries, found that Ireland was the most accepting country of gay players. More than 80 percent of people who used the Forza Football app on their cell phones from Ireland said that they would be comfortable with a player who played on a national team who came out of the closet.
Yet the number drops to only 73 percent of the 5,000 United Kingdom residents who used the same app to respond to the same question. More than half of respondents from the United Kingdom stated that they felt more had to be done to stop homophobia and abuse in sports. And it is not just the United Kingdom that needs improvement. Nearly 80 countries around the world regard homosexuality a crime, punishable by hard labor, lifelong prison sentences, forced psychiatric treatment, whippings, banishment, fines and public stoning to death.
Despite the fact that the weather may have started off dreary and gray, the Pride Parade along the streets of London, England amassed an astonishing record crowd of people this year, dressed in their rainbow brightest. And although the theme was “Freedom to Be Oneself,” it was open to interpretation. Some took it to mean having the freedom to marry while others took it to mean the ability to stand up for gay rights in sports. No matter how attendees took the theme to mean, the Pride Parade in London, England this year is surely one for the record books.
By Korrey Laderoute