Joining the RYA to participate in the London Pride Parade meant I ended this year’s Pride Month on a real high. Having only fully come out a couple of years ago, I hadn’t ever been to London Pride before, despite having previously spent a lot of time in London for work.
The atmosphere was incredible, joyful, and good-natured, even as people navigated how to cross the Parade route. As I headed to Green Park to meet a friend before the Parade, I spotted loads of rainbows and glitter on the Tube.
There was a true mixture of diversity in the crowds, a range of ages, genders, races, beliefs, and sexuality. Young families were mixing with older same-sex couples - it was a beautiful thing to see.
Our instructions were to meet in Mount Street Gardens by the funky palm tree - yes, this is a thing. There was a group of us from the RYA, Sailing & Cruising Association (Gay Sailing) and Swim England who were walking together. Gradually, our little group grew, participants brought their children and partners, and we were diverse. We were given a goody bag with our RYA London Pride 2023 t-shirt, an RYA rainbow lanyard, a rubber duck with “I love sailing”, and some Love Heart sweets.
Everyone was friendly and shared their stories; a trans lady I spoke to had only started transitioning a few years ago, very late in life, and had come to the Parade with her wife. Another lady I spoke to came out as gay over 50-years ago as a teenager to very accepting family and friends.
Photos were taken, wristbands and flags given out, and we made our way to the Parade route for 4pm. This took some work, as thousands of people lined the Parade, and we had to make sure we found our spot.
We had a brilliant place behind Laing O’Rourke Construction with their Pride digger truck, but more importantly, an enormous speaker. Behind us, was Transport for London, complete with an incredible drag artist dressed as a London Bus, covered in red sequins, complete with a ‘Mind the Gap’ sign. The Parade was running very late and slow, but no one complained; everyone carried on having a good time.
It is hard to know which was the best part for me, parading outside The Ritz was really cool, as was spotting my friend who had waited to film our group, parading into Piccadilly Circus, or when Laing O’Rourke played the Bob the Builder song, and we all joined in – yes, they really did that!
Even 3-years ago, I could never have imagined being able to do this, to live my truth so publicly in this way, and meet some incredible people in the process.
Pride is a protest and a celebration at the same time, and I think the RYA’s pride hashtag sums it up well: #whoeverfloatsyourboat.
Find out more about the RYA's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and the steps we are taking to ensure boating is inclusive for everyone.