The Supreme Court decision which decided that same sex marriage was a right in the States made London Pride extra special this year. However for me it was marred, because they decided that UKIP couldn’t march in their pride parade and they went through on that promise. They have done so, as is argued in their statement, not because it’s a political position, but because they want the event to be peaceful and merry. If this is the case then it’s an act of cowardice, which is ironic since pride is supposed to be about the act of courage. The London Pride reasoning assumes that stewards cannot do the very action they’re paid to do, which is to make sure that the event passes off peacefully
The offence many take from anything and everything, stifling discussions which make us think for ourselves, and of course hiding behind keyboards is the new public state, where reputations are ruined and any digressions from the group think are hounded out. This group think has alienated many would be allies from having anything to do with actively campaigning. In a frothing at the mouth temperament that now makes ostracising those who think differently a norm, this new insult to lgbtq members of ukip is not even surprising. Creating a position of ‘you are with us or against us’ on every issue without recognising a middle ground, or grey areas has subdued creativity, clever campaigning, and it will come to harm the movement when looking for active allies.
What’s even more ironic in the London Pride reasoning is that communities, who have been discriminated against for so long, are now in the midst of segregating those who happen to share a different political belief. The oppressed becoming the oppressor isn’t a new or original story (or even history) instead of arrests or violence, people who think differently are now being met with safe spaces, no platforming, trigger warnings and other such inventions. These ideas should be restricted to a very specific context; otherwise you enter a world where it becomes an echo chamber and nothing can be done, seen, or discussed. The unforgettable Martin Niemoller poem ‘first they came’ is a timely reminder of what happens when we encourage intellectual cowardice, and a witch hunt mentality.
Essentially what London Pride has done, is told LGBTQ* ukip supporters are that you’re no longer really welcome. That’s something which should be diametrically opposite what pride is supposed to be about. Now I’m not a big fan of pride, to me it just perpetuates the stereotypes that are already around lgbtq* people, and doesn’t do enough to speak to the average man or women (lgbtq or otherwise). But I recognise for a lot of people it’s very important to attend, due to the history of pride, the history of discrimination and oppression, and of course the festivities. We’re forgetting about the feelings of ‘safety’ that lgbtq ukip supporters at the said event. Now everyone knows it’s banned how are lgbtq* ukip supporters meant to feel if they turn up? Supported? Liked? Accepted? Or actually the entirely opposite feeling…. in reality the safe space that London Pride are so eagerly defended has been lost by the very action they’re taking.
Of course no-one has mourned the loss of the UKIP lgbt wing from the march, they would have been few in number, and of course people who support UKIP are just nasty bigots. They aren’t people with real concern or worry, or god forbids they may disagree with parts of the party platform. Of course only UKIP have their image as bad as this, they almost match the BNP in this area. While the Conservatives marched in gay pride not a word is whispered. This despite the fact that the Prime Minister has a lamentable voting record on lgbt rights, The Prime Minister failed to vote for destruction of section 28 across Great Britain, voted against giving Lesbian couples access to IVF treatment, and he voted against gay couples being able to adopt children. There are still significant parts of the Conservative Party which are no real friends of the lgbtq community. This was highlighted by the fact that the Conservatives were the only major party in Parliament who had a majority which voted against the same sex marriage bill. I don’t agree which stopped UKIP from marching, but I would like to see some consistency from those who do make this boisterous call. Sadly it’s easy to call out UKIP and leave the ‘big’ parties alone