July 3, 2019 at 7:57 am EDT | by Katlego K Kol-Kes
UK’s Gay Liberation Front unveils new demands
Queer Tours of London is among the groups that are challenging traditional Pride events in the British capital. (Photo courtesy of Queer Tours of London)

LONDON — The Gay Liberation Front, the U.K.’s long running activist collective, has released new demands for their continued fight.

The collective was founded in London nearly 50 years ago, following the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, and staged the first Pride in London. Now, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the iconic throwing of the first brick by Marsha P. Johnson, the collective wants to reignite the spirit of rebellion in Pride.

On June 17, a cross-generational group made up of original members of the Gay Liberation Front and younger activists took to Trafalgar Square to recreate the first Pride in London and “to remember and reinvigorate the fires that fought back against centuries of oppression and seemingly overwhelming odds” as Ted Brown (original and presently active Gay Libertion Front member) stated. Brandishing banners replicating those from the 1970 protest and chanting the collective launched is aptly titled: “A NEW AGREEMENT ABOUT PRIDE EVENTS FOR A NEW WORLD AGE” – a 7-point intervention aimed at making Pride safe, accessible and inclusive.

The intervention demands are based in a historical valuing of the movement as well as an understanding of the intersection of numerous struggles which come to the attention of LGBTQ+ activists in modern day U.K. and the world.

1. Pride is FREE: Pride organizers who want ticketed events must arrange free Pride marches as well. No one should be denied entry to Pride because they don’t have enough money.

2. Pride is always a protest as well as a celebration. We’ve a whole world yet to change and we’ve hardly begun.

3. LGBT+ community groups actively engaged in grassroots LGBTQIA+ empowerment programs, or key allies such as the miners in the 1980s, always to head Pride marches.

4. Arms dealers and other corporations who trade with nations in violation of the U.N. International Charter on Human Rights are never again to be allowed to sponsor or have floats at Pride marches. Individual LGBT employees of such corporations are welcome as always, but not marching in groups sporting corporate logos.

5. The target is to be vehicle-free: No diesel-powered vehicles unless for mobility or safety reasons.

6. Full accessibility and reminders to LGBT-friendly venues near the March that full accessibility is the target.

7. Gay Liberation Front to lead Pride in London in 2020.

The U.K., even with the Equality Act of 2010 which protects all people against discrimination, has seen a rise in hate crimes over the past five years. On June 7, a lesbian couple was beaten on a bus by a group of young men for refusing to kiss in front of them. Stuart Feather, author of “Blowing the Lid: Gay Liberation, Sexual Revolution and Radical Queens”  and original Gay Liberation Front activist, and firebrand of the struggle stated, “Gay Liberation will always be a socialist movement by virtue of its demand for social change.”

Noting the value in cross-generational collaboration in activism and paying it forward, Nettie Pollard said, “We did what we did to rescue ourselves, but we always thought of you as well — you who would come out after us, and will come out until the world ends.”

The initiative was supported by Queer Tours of London, a collective of LGBTQ+ activists based in London and around the world whose work merges research, education, entertainment and radical activism in order to advocate for social justice and preservation of queer histories as inscribed in the streets of London. With the fight for global decriminalization of queer livelihoods in Commonwealth states progressing — Botswana being the most recent state to abolish colonial laws — the 2022 celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Pride in London are set to be another monumental landmark in the expansive history of the Gay Liberation Front. On the build up calendar is a series of tours curated and guided in collaboration with the Gay Liberation Front featuring original members who show that they’re still packing in some fighting spirit.

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