Proud of 'Pride'

2021-06-15 -
Array, ASLEF
A group of ASLEF members marching with the ASLEF LGBT+ banner at London Pride

David Jones, Chair of ASLEF's LGBT+ Representative Committee, has written about the history of Pride events to mark Pride Month 2021:

June 28th 1969, saw the start of what has become known as the 'Stonewall Riots'. Over the following days lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people rioted in response to a violent raid by the New York Police force on the patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. This becomes a pivotal moment in the modern LGBT+ rights movement.

So whilst we celebrate the achievements of campaigners who have brought us to where we are today, let us continue to campaign until we achieve full acceptance and true equality. 

2020 should have seen commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the first ever Pride march. This took place in New York in June 1970, remembering the events of the previous year. This first LGBT+ protest march was known as the 'Christoper Street Liberation Day Parade', Christopher Street being the address of the Stonewall Inn.

This is why June is still remembered and celebrated as Pride Month. The question is asked every year 'why is there no straight pride?' Well, the answer is quite simple: The LGBT+ 'Pride' is the antithesis of the shame and stigma that being LGB or T carried in the years before this. Being straight has never carried such shame or stigma. Being straight never resulted in criminalisation, or imprisonment, or chemical castration. 

So that was the start in the 1970's. Is pride now just a party? A celebration of all that is gay? The occasion where all things camp are the order of the day? Absolutely not.

Over the last 10 years we have seen a massive rise in transphobia across the world, and a huge resurgence in so-called religious groups who would seek to reverse those hard fought for human rights, achieved by the LGBT+ community since Stonewall.

Pride marches continue to be the biggest civil rights demonstrations seen across the world and are continually attacked by those who would deny human rights to anyone different to themselves. 

Many in the LGBT+ community believe the 'Pride Season' has also been hijacked by large commercial organisations. Retailers who produce a rainbow range just for the month of June to cash in on these events. Or the big business like the banks, whose floats lead the parades detracting from the homophobic regimes they support across the world. 

So whilst we celebrate the achievements of campaigners who have brought us to where we are today, let us continue to campaign until we achieve full acceptance and true equality. 

Once again this years events have been massively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. This year's designated UK Pride, Northern Pride in Newcastle, has announced it is moving online.

For the second year running Network Rail is hosting a virtual pride festival across two weeks in June. Events will run from the 14th to the 25th June, and will aim to bring together employees from across the rail sector generating discussion around LGBT+ issues and seeking to drive forward inclusion, making the railway a more welcoming place for passengers and staff.

Whilst we are taking care of each other and following the government's coronavirus guidelines, we are still looking to the future, and when we can unfurl our ASLEF banners again (hopefully in the sunshine) we will hold them high, and march with our usual great sense of pride.

A group of ASLEF activists outside a pub, holding the ASLEF LGBT+ banner, ASLEF rainbow flags and other LGBT+ and trans pride flags


Find out more about ASLEF's LGBT+ campaigning and our history of attending pride events on our dedicated Equalities 20 website, charting 20 years of organising for equality.

If you are an ASLEF member and you identify as LGBT+, please let us know by logging in to your Dashboard and updating your equality and diversity information. You can also find out more about ASLEF's LGBT+ Representative Committee here.