The gay pride flag is flying high over London for the first time, but spirits are low because of a scaled-back WorldPride celebration in the U.K. capital.
Pride London, the organizer of WorldPride, have announced that the parade planned for Saturday will be a “procession” without vehicles or floats, festivities will start and end earlier, and some events have been canceled, such as outdoor entertainment in the Soho neighborhood. Pride London officials said the cutbacks were due to lack of funds, citing the difficulty in finding sponsors in this economic climate.
Pride London has been criticized as mismanaging WorldPride, being hosted by London for the first time. A commentary by Nichi Hodgson in the New Statesman magazine this week refers to “the committee’s incompetence and nonsensical hesitancy in admitting it needed funding help.” Activist Peter Tatchell told London’s Independent newspaper, “The sudden, drastic curtailment of the World Pride parade, rally, and street parties is a huge blow to London and its gay community. The promised extravaganza looks set to descend into a chaotic damp squib.” Pride London’s chairman has resigned in the wake of the cutbacks.
Still, Tatchell and other veterans of the first London pride parade, held in 1972, will lead the procession, Tatchell said.
Meanwhile, the rainbow flag is flying over the U.K. cabinet office in Whitehall, a London neighborhood that is home to several national government buildings. “Flying this iconic flag in the heart of Whitehall is a small but important emblem that the government and this country are behind equal rights,” said Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who ordered that it be raised over the cabinet building. Clegg recently joined a campaign for civil marriage equality and also said that churches should be able to perform same-sex marriages, Pink News notes.
And U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, unable to accept WorldPride’s World LGBT Award in person at a gala dinner last night, sent a video message to the gathering. She said, “Although I want once again to thank you for honoring me with this award, I really want to thank you for standing up for the rights of LGBT people everywhere.” Watch below.