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London's Big Queer Energy Never Ends

Barry Hoy (middle) at London Pride

Singer Teraj and writer Barry Hoy are starring in the Out Traveler & equalpride travel series Making It With Pride. Here Barry gives us a recap of their recent trip to London (which you can watch in full in an upcoming episode).

This year, London celebrated 50 years of Pride. It was July 1st, 1972, when the LGBTQ+ community first took the famous city’s streets by storm. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to the city each summer to participate in what is, essentially, a giant party celebrating identity, diversity, freedom and love. The 50th Anniversary of Pride in London proved to be the biggest party yet, hosting 1.5 million people, making it the largest Pride in British history. With a parade of over 30,000 people, five stages of over-the-top performances and a city full of events highlighting the achievements, talents and resilience of the queer community, there’s no doubt this was Pride in London’s biggest success so far. Haven Thorn, spokesperson for Pride in London said, “The LGBT+ community in the UK has come so far in the past 50 years, and this line up was a great way to collectively celebrate our journey and where we are today. We are so grateful to all of these artists, LGBT+ icons and allies who helped make July 2nd a momentous Pride to remember.”

The Pride March is the headliner event of London Pride every year, but this year it was twice as special. The veterans from the first march of 1972 actually led the parade of 30,000 people, along with Peter Tatchell and The Gay Liberation Front. Talk about a historic day! The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was also in attendance and delivered a speech prior to the parade in which he recognized the work that is still to be done for LGBTQ+ equality. Being there in person, it was really amazing to see that kind of leadership step up and pledge support for the community. We could really feel the excitement and energy from the crowd, we were touched by the sheer amount of people who came out to celebrate love.

This year’s campaign was #AllOurPride, which aimed to promote unity, visibility and equality for all. This theme is extraordinarily important, because when it comes to intersectionality within the LGBTQ+ community, there is still a lot of work to be done. Attendees were led into “50 Seconds of #AllOurPride,” which was a quick moment for everyone to pay homage to the 50th Anniversary and what 50 years of Pride really means for the city. As for us, “All Our Pride” means inclusivity - the importance of Pride is that we can ALL, no matter our background, race, sexual orientation, identity, and ability — celebrate Pride together!

 

Teraj performs at London Pride

 

It wouldn’t be Pride without some kick-ass performances, and this year’s line-up was gold. Some of the incredible acts included Ava Max, Emeli Sandé, Eurovision-winning superstar Netta, pop and soul icon Samantha Mumba, Hollywood actress and Long Hot Summer singer Kat Graham, and Drag Race Superstars The Vivienne, Lawrence Chaney, Tia Kofi and Victoria Scone, among others. One of the most exciting and anticipated performances of the event for me personally was my partner Teraj. Teraj is a Pop/R&B recording artist and media personality from New York City. He is also a proud Out Traveler (and my co-star in Making It With Pride). Teraj was one of the headliners for the Golden Square Stage in Soho this year, where he sang a few of his hits including “Fallin’,” “Control,” “Herstory” and the crowd favorite, “Freedom.”

"Diving deeper than the surface, my true self brought out to manifest. Nothing's better than living my purpose or more rewarding than the freedom of being myself." Teraj echoed these self-penned lyrics to a jam-packed crowd, empowering them to live boldly in their truth, while embracing their individuality and highlighting the importance of self-love. "This was my first time ever in London and to be a part of such a historic moment in Pride in London's 50 year legacy as one of this year's headliners was an incredible honor that meant everything to me,” Teraj shared just moments after his set on the Golden Square Stage.

If that wasn’t exciting enough, guests were treated to a surprise appearance by the cast of Netflix’s new and widely popular queer coming-of-age romcom series, Heartstopper. Dubbed one of the top moments of London’s Pride, the cast was spotted dancing, singing and giving the middle-finger to a group of anti-LGBTQ+ protesters. Following the event, the stars tweeted more of their support saying, “Love Always Wins” and “Had to do my job properly,” which alluded to their duty to use their platform to spread solidarity, love and acceptance. The cast is just as sweet as they seem, and my partner and I were lucky enough to grab a quick photo with them before the parade!

Outside of the headlining events, there was so much to do around the city to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Pride. Recently, London opened up the UK's first national LGBQT+ museum called, Queer Britain. They describe their mission as “helping complete the Nation’s family tree,” and they do just that by connecting the community to queer culture, both past and present.

For a more high-energy and queer magic-filled evening, Moonlight Experience is still offering their Big Queer Energy Night-Out in London extravaganza where guests can experience everything from racy cabarets to rich discussions and underground after-parties. Each night is different, so it’s definitely worth visiting multiple times. Moonlight Experiences is “queering the future and changing the perception of queer culture through storytelling, events & experiences to showcase the diversity of our community” says founder and director, Aisha Shaibu. When we went, we were able to go to an underground cabaret/drag performance that we would never have known about. We walked down a quiet street towards a fairly nondescript building, but once the door swung open, there was glitz and glamour galore! It was all that we could have ever hoped for in an evening out.

Another really unique event happening in London now through November is the V&A Art of Menswear Exhibit. This exhibition is one-of-a-kind, being the first V&A experience to explore how designers, tailors and artists (and their clients and sitters) have constructed masculinity, and unpicked it at the seams. From Renaissance fashion to looks by Gucci, there are over 100 different pieces of fashion history to explore. The exhibit is split into three main categories - Undressed, Overdressed and Redressed - and each provides the highlights from its respective theme. Our favorite part of the entire exhibit was seeing the black velvet tuxedo dress designed by Billy Porter on the red carpet of the Academy Awards in 2019. It was breathtaking in person!

 

Barry Hoy and Teraj during London Pride

 

All in all, London’s 50th Anniversary of Pride was the perfect place to celebrate the return of Pride in all its glory. It’s a community like no other, and provides an amazing platform for the queer community to come together to party, show-off incredible talents, love and be loved. We have attended many Prides before but Pride in London for their 50th Anniversary will always hold a special place in my heart, because we truly did feel #AllOurPride.

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Barry Hoy is a Canadian transplanted to New York City. Also known as @asianmapleleaf, Barry is a travel, food and lifestyle writer who showcases great destinations, their local experiences, and all of the must see (#bucketlist) places around the world. Travel is his passion, so he is always on the road or up in the air. Follow along his adventures via Making It With Pride Instagram @asianmapleleaf or on his travel blog at www.asianmapleleaf.com.

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