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London Pride celebrates 50th anniversary

“Heartstopper” cast members troll anti-LGBTQ protesters

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"Heartstopper" actors troll anti-LGBTQ protestors at Pride in London 2022 (Screenshot/Twitter)

Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of Pride in London, the first was led by the Gay Liberation Front in 1972. According to the BBC more than a million people thronged the streets of the British capital, ranking it as one of the largest LGBTQ events in Europe.

In a Sunday interview with BBC Radio, Chris Joell-Deshields, director of London Pride, said it was important as it provided a great level of visibility for LGBTQ rights. 

“We’re able to provide that form of visibility, unity, quality, that the world can see and it sends a message of solidarity to those persons who may be thinking ‘I can’t be open’, ‘I can’t be visible or I’ll be prosecuted in my country,” he said.

“The battles have not all been won. Yes we’ve had some magnificent achievements, whether or not that’s equal marriage, the repeal of Section 28, the lifting of the ban of homosexuals and lesbians in the military, but we’ve still got a journey to go,” he told BBC Radio.

“Every day we’re continuing to have to fight for our trans people and making it a fair life for them. We’re still having to fight for those around the world who live in countries where they can’t be themselves,” Joell-Deshields added.

Reflecting on the masses gathered at Traflagar Square Joell-Deshields noted:

“Yesterday when we were in Trafalgar Square, and we were chanting ‘trans rights are human rights,’ we were pushing that so that volume of noise was heard at Downing Street and beyond, to the millions or people on the footprint and thousands on the parade.

“That sends a powerful message to politicians and others that we’re here, we’re proud and loud, and we’re going to continue to fight.

“And there’s the next generation coming along that we need to pass the mantel to. We want them to understand that the fight is not won, we have to continue and the pride platform is a great platform to do that.”

Screenshot/YouTube Pride in London live-stream

Echoing Joell-Deshields, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who was in attendance Saturday told PinkNewsUK the LGBTQ community and allies “can’t be complacent” in the fight for equality.

The Mayor stressed that it was important to celebrate the hard won rights that the UK’s LGBTQ+ community has fought for over the last 50 years including the “end of Section 28”, the introduction of same sex marriage and the approval of “laws to protect this community.”

He then pivoted and warned there is still a “lot of campaigning” to be done in the wake of the deadly mass shooting at an LGBTQ venue in Oslo, Norway, as well as attacks against the trans community in the U.K. 

“People in this community have been able to be open and successful, thriving — but also recognize that we can’t be complacent,” Khan said. “There is still a lot of campaigning to be done.”

He continued: “This time last week we saw in Oslo members of this community being attacked — two being killed, many others being injured. 

“We’ve seen trans people in this country being used as pawns by politicians and others in a culture war. 

“So of course, we’ve got to continue protesting, continue campaigning, continue trying to make progress but also celebrate the progress we’ve made,” the mayor said.

Screenshot/YouTube Pride in London live-stream

Joining in to march in parade were cast members of the Netflix hit LGBTQ drama series “Heartstopper” including lead actors Kit Connor and Joe Locke, and castmates Jenny Walser, Sebastian Croft, Tobie Donovan, Corinna Brown and Kizzy Edgell.

Alice Oseman the author, illustrator, screenwriter and executive producer of Heartstopper tweeted:

At one point in the parade the cast stopped and trolled some anti-LGBTQ street pastors spouting inflammatory hate speech. Actors Joe Locke, who plays Charlie Spring and Sebastian Croft who plays Ben, can be seen jumping up and down dancing as they displayed their non-verbal disapproval of the protestors bullhorn-delivered messaging. Kit Connor who plays Nick Nelson noted in a Twitter post:

 

A video, shared on Twitter by Sky News journalist Scott Beasley, showed the actors waving the middle finger and loudly singing along to Whitney Houston’s hit “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” in front of the street preachers.

PinkNewsUK reported that elsewhere in the parade, Connor carried Locke on his back as they walked along the parade route behind a giant Pride flag. The scene was very reminiscent of a Heartstopper doodle that Alice Oseman created for Pride in 2019 that depicted Nick carrying Charlie, who was wearing a colorful flag, on his back.

Locke told the BBC that this was his first Pride ever and said it was “such an honor” to be celebrating “being queer when the world might not be so accepting”. 

“It’s very, very surreal for me,” he said.

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UK Black Pride celebrates 18 years of empowerment

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah founded event in 2005

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Phyll Opoku-Gyimah founded UK Black Pride in 2005. (Photo courtesy of Opoku-Gyimah's Instagram page)

In a world where diversity and inclusivity are increasingly valued, UK Black Pride stands as a beacon of empowerment and celebration. As it prepares to mark its 18th anniversary on Saturday, the event continues to shine a spotlight on the experiences, struggles and triumphs of LGBTQ individuals from Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic backgrounds. With each passing year, UK Black Pride grows stronger, amplifying its message of unity, acceptance, and change.

Founded by Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, affectionately known as Lady Phyll, in 2005, the event emerged from the necessity to create a space that speaks directly to the intersection of race and LGBTQ identity. Traditional Pride events, while important, often fall short in fully addressing the unique challenges faced by individuals who belong to both marginalized communities. Recognizing this gap, UK Black Pride was born with the intention to provide a platform for underrepresented voices.

The essence of UK Black Pride lies in its commitment to fostering unity within diverse communities. 

“UK Black Pride’s Community Stage is where thought-provoking discussions intertwine with the performances of emerging musicians and talented spoken word artists,” UK Black Pride says in a statement. “This event celebrates the kaleidoscope of identities that exist within the LGBTQ+ spectrum, highlighting the beauty of difference while erasing the lines that have historically divided us. Attendees find solace in connecting with people who share their experiences, building a support network that extends beyond the event itself.”

Over the years, UK Black Pride has not only created a safe space but also played a crucial role in amplifying the visibility of LGBTQ individuals of color, and this year’s no different. Visibility is key to breaking down stereotypes, dispelling misconceptions, and creating a world that values and respects all identities. This year, programs that prioritize health, such as breast cancer and Best for My Chest Campaign, refugees, finding and building connections, faith, sexuality, and even poems, would go in full swing. The anniversary, which NYX Professional Makeup has sponsored, would serve as a reminder of the progress made, and the battles yet to be fought.

Only recently, it was reported that two queer people were stabbed outside a south London nightclub. This is testament of the rife homophobia that continues to trump the country. It is also this premise upon which UK Black Pride is built. The 18th anniversary therefore becomes a testament to the resilience of both the event itself, and the communities it represents. Against the backdrop of ongoing struggles for equality and justice, this celebration offers a moment of joy and triumph. It stands as a symbol of the strength found in unity and the determination to overcome challenges. To this vain, music genres like Afrobeats and Amapiano will be played from leading DJs like DJ Biggy C, Scarlett K, DIBS, etc. 

As UK Black Pride enters its 18th year, its impact continues to extend beyond the event itself. The visibility it creates, the conversations it sparks, and the connections it forges all contribute to a broader cultural shift.

“With each passing year, the event moves us closer to a world where everyone’s identity is embraced, and discrimination is a thing of the past. This event, born out of necessity, continues to stand tall as a beacon of empowerment, amplifying the voices of LGBTQ individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds. As we honor this milestone, let us also recognize that the journey towards equality and acceptance is ongoing. UK Black Pride reminds us that the struggle is real, but so is the strength that comes from unity and love.”

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UK confirms efforts to decrease number of gender-neutral toilets

Anti-transgender rhetoric on the rise in the country

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(Photo by Rob Wilson via Bigstock)

The Home Office’s Department for Leveling Up announced Sunday that the U.K. government will implement measures to reverse the rise of gender-neutral toilets as part of wider efforts to protect single sex spaces.

Any changes will affect England only. The department has made no suggestion whether these measures will extend to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland in the future.

In its statement the government noted all new non-domestic public and private buildings will be required to provide separate single-sex toilets for women and men and/or a self-contained, private toilet as a minimum.

According to the department’s statement, these changes come amid dignity and privacy concerns from women and elderly people who feel they are being unfairly disadvantaged as publicly accessible toilets are increasingly being converted into gender neutral facilities.

Concerns over the rise of neutral gender facilities has meant that public have been forced to share cubicle and hand-washing facilities, leading to increasing waiting in shared queues, decreased choice and a limitation on privacy and dignity for all, the statement read.

The government claims that these new regulations and guidance will mean women, who may need to use facilities more often because of pregnancy or sanitary needs, will now be guaranteed appropriate facilities either through a separate single-sex space or through a self-contained, private toilet.

PinkNewsUK reported that pro-LGBTQ activists have previously signaled the importance of gender-neutral toilets, including conservative MP Caroline Nokes, who said in 2022 that the “inclusive” facilities are something she stands up for “enormously.

Following the policy’s announcement, Nokes told PinkNewsUK: “What matters most when it comes to toilets is design. I always point at Portcullis House in Parliament which has bathrooms on every floor, nobody refers to them as gender-neutral bathrooms — they are just bathrooms.”

“If you have lavatory facilities that are each self-contained units, with their own wash basin and hand drier, and wall-to-ceiling walls and doors, and men remember to put the seat down, there really is nothing to complaint about,” she continued. “What we all want is nice, clean, private loos and in new builds in particular that ought not to be impossible.”

Women and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch said:

“It is important that everybody has privacy and dignity when using public facilities. Yet the move towards ‘gender neutral’ toilets has removed this fundamental right for women and girls.

“These proposals will ensure every new building in England is required to provide separate male and female or unisex facilities, and publish guidance to explain the difference, protecting the dignity, privacy and safety of all.”

Badenoch has faced much criticism from the LGBTQ community over her transgender-hostile statements previously and her opposition to a conversion therapy ban that includes trans people.

PinkNewsUK also reported that in remarks leaked in 2021, but made in 2018, just a year after Badenoch became an MP, she reportedly described trans women as “men using women’s bathrooms” and asked: “We’ve got gay marriage and civil partnerships, so what are transsexuals looks for?”

The changes will be made through building regulations and guidance. The aim of the new requirements will ensure that:

  • Separate single-sex toilets facilities are provided for men and women; and/or
  • Self-contained, private toilets are provided where space allows to ensure privacy and safety;
  • Mixed sex shared facilities are not an option, except when lack of space allows only a single toilet

Changing the rules for single sex and/or universal toilets to be required would have positive equality outcomes for those who may not currently feel safe while using toilet facilities.

According to a recent YouGov opinion tracker, as of Wednesday (Aug. 9), 47 percent of women in the U.K. oppose gender-neutral toilets, while a separate 47 percent of women support having gender-neutral toilets as well as separate toilets for men and women. The remaining six per cent support gender-neutral toilets only, or do not know.

People aged 18-24 are more strongly in favor of including gender-neutral toilets (51 percent), while 34 percent oppose them.

Additional reporting from PinkNewsUK

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Transphobes outraged over British coffee shop chain’s mural

Artist drew trans man with surgery scars with Costa Coffee cup

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(Screenshot from Twitter)

A British coffee house chain is drawing heavy critique over its inclusion of an artistic caricature of a shirtless “trans man” sipping on a coffee emblazoned on one of its company’s vans.

Costa Coffee, the second largest coffeehouse chain in the world and largest in the U.K., had a mural created that depicts a trans male with double mastectomy scars pictured, which a company spokesperson defended telling reporters it “showcases and celebrates inclusivity.” 

The reaction from British “gender criticals” and others opposed to trans rights in the U.K. was to launch a furious #BoycottCostaCoffee campaign on X, the social media platform formerly called Twitter.

Trans male YouTube creator and social media influencer Jamie Raines took to his X account to applaud the company writing: “So @CostaCoffee depicted a trans masc person, and transphobes are angry and shouting #BoycottCostaCoffee (obvs). Shockingly to them trans people exist, and might drink coffee. Anyway, as a trans man with similar scars, thank you Costa for the representation.”

“At Costa Coffee we celebrate the diversity of our customers, team members and partners. We want everyone that interacts with us to experience the inclusive environment that we create, to encourage people to feel welcomed, free and unashamedly proud to be themselves. The mural, in its entirety, showcases and celebrates inclusivity,” a Costa Coffee spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

One prominent critic of the trans community, James Esses, a British therapist who was expelled from his training institute over his ideological opposition regarding the care of trans-identified youth and his long held gender critical beliefs also took to X castigating the coffee chain. 

“Dear @CostaCoffee,

Could you kindly explain why you are glorifying irreversible surgery performed on healthy breasts of women for a mental health condition?” Esses wrote.

In another tweet he attacked the artist of the mural:

British physician Dr. Helen Webberley, however, took the “gender criticals” to task, noting:

“Know where I’ll be stopping for my morning cuppa tomorrow morning.

Everyone shouting #BoycottCostaCoffee because it ‘promotes the mutilation of teenage girls’ have completely missed the point. Top surgery is a completely routine and normal procedure that helps reduce gender dysphoria in trans men — a debilitating mental health issue that sadly takes so many lives every year. Top surgery doesn’t harm people — it saves lives. Good on @CostaCoffee for being on the right side of history.”

One local Scottish politician wryly noted that the positive aspect to the uproar over the mural was the revelation of exactly who the “transphobes” were. Nairn McDonald posted to his X account:

“Watching idiots sharing #BoycottCostaCoffee because Costa put a trans man in their art work is exposing so many transphobes. Bravo @CostaCoffee for being truly inclusive. To the Transphobes … I look forward to my Costa being quieter without you.”

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