Pride London and the World Cup

Having lived in London all my life, I’m the first to admit that despite being one of the most incredible cities in the world, it has a certain stigma for being grey, grumpy and gloomy a lot of the time, which is why the events of the past few weeks have been so baffling to me.

The sun has been shining all over England lately, and this heatwave has brought with it an abundance of happiness, unusual levels of kindness and what seems to be a little luck, especially when it comes to the World Cup. If you’ve set foot in the capital recently, you will certainly have heard chants of “It’s Coming Home” and seen flags flying from windows all over the city. Spirits have been have been high, and have only been soaring higher with every win.

Yesterday, however, was an incredibly special day in London. Not only was it the qualifying game for England to make the semi-finals, but it was also Pride, and I was lucky enough to be working the event in Leicester Square handing out Pride goodies to passers by and spreading love in the heart of the celebrations.

I would definitely say this is one of the best shifts I’ve ever worked in my life, and I’ve worked some pretty spectacular shifts in my time. The atmosphere was absolutely incredible with everyone getting involved in the celebrations, from confused tourists to the Metropolitan Police Service overseeing the event and everyone in between.

The LGBT+ struggle, whilst not something I have ever had to experience or suffer, is something I hold incredibly close to my heart. As a dancer in the heart of London, I spend most of my life surrounded by people in the LGTB+ community as well as having gay family members. I have witnessed first hand the comments and abuse some of my friends have suffered at the hands of others simply for who they want to love, and it truly does break my heart. Yesterday, I offered and handed out over 7,000 Pride goodies in Leicester Square; out of all of these only 1 asked me “not to insult” him by wishing him “Happy Pride!”. This infuriated me and I’m not ashamed to say I told him where he could stick his “insulted” ego.I would love nothing more than to live in a world where everyone is free to love who they want without any snide comments or abusive actions, but to think that I only met 1 person in 7,000 who was offended yesterday proves how far our society has progressed in the lest few years, and we’re only becoming more loving, caring, and accepting as a nation every day.

My shift ended just in time for me to attend the Pride parade, which was a joyous display of love and laughter. Seeing picket signs from a Christian group claiming that “God loves everyone” and “God’s love doesn’t discriminate” particularly warmed my heart, and I had a truly beautiful afternoon following what we dubbed the ‘party van’ down the parade, belting the campest tunes you could imagine at the top of my lungs.

The festivities ended for me at around 4pm, just in time for me to catch the second half of the England game through the window of a packed pub. If the atmosphere in London wasn’t already fabulous, the only thing that could possibly have made it better was a win for England, which shortly followed sending the good vibes sky high.

The sheer joy I witnessed in London yesterday is unlike anything I thought I’d ever witness in my city. It came from such a mixture of incredible events, and Brits spilled onto the streets in their masses to show their support for both Pride and our boys competing abroad. I can guarantee I will never see another day in the city like it, but I count myself truly lucky that I was there to experience it. What a time to be alive!

Until next time,

Kate.X

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