These are personal stories from members of our LGBT+ Network to support Virtual Pride.
My first Prides were in the mid-1980s. Some of these were tough and slightly worrying to take part in — this was a time of scapegoating gay and bi men about AIDs and, in the late 80s, of Section 28 (seeking to ban the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools).
I remember marching through the streets of Camberwell and not feeling supported by the public. Things started to get a lot better in the 1990s, perhaps culminating with the 1/4 million people attending a Pride Festival in Brockwell Park. For me, there was a bit of a dip in the enjoyability and accessibility of Pride when it was a ticketed event sponsored by a cigarette company. Once Pride got back into central London, I had some of my best experiences, particularly parading as part of LGBT+ friendly football club Leftfooters FC and being very popular in our football kit!
Pride is now part of UK cultural life — a national event and even a tourist attraction — that is so much more than Parade Day. I mainly now go along for the end of the parade in Trafalgar Square and I love the wonderful atmosphere there in the area.