World Pride 2012 London Recap

Duane Wells

All photos by Jeffrey James Keyes

It is no secret that World Pride 2012 was plagued by a series of widely reported calamities along the way, but in the final analysis, out of what might be called chaos arose a global celebration worthy of the title World Pride. The annual parade might have been turned into a ‘procession’ held far away from the traditional gay hub of Soho, and there might not have been a series of colorful floats or a barrage of corporate sponsors as one might have expected, but what was left was the very heart of what Pride celebrations should be all about—plainly and simply, celebrating who we really are as a community and all of our wonderful diversity.

The day begin with a march toward Trafalgar Square, which included parade participants from around the world who gathered to deliver unique messages in their own unique ways to the world about who they are, what their gay communities look like and what their challenges are. To be sure, there was also a fair amount of leather as well as the expected hordes of shirtless men whose torsos had been emblazoned with the logos of various adult entertainment websites, but there were also gay choruses, marching bands and soldiers marching alongside LGBT groups advocating on behalf of LGBT civil rights in destinations as diverse as the Philippines, New York, Lithuania, Sri Lanka, Bermuda, Mexico and Turkey.

Given the looseness of the parade, some might have called the affair amateurish—but, again, in the end, it all just felt like a giant street party, a day when the community came together to commune and give a shout-out to the world to remind them that despite all the strides forward in the realm of LGBT rights around the world, we’re all still here, we’re all still fighting and we all still love a party (and a good reason to dress up—or not, as the case may be). To my thinking, it was a gathering that truly represented the many proverbial colors of the rainbow for the estimated 25,000 participants in attendance.

For those of us able to let go of our strictures about what Pride celebrations should be, even the infrequent rain showers couldn’t dampen our pride or enthusiasm. At one point towards the end, my group even jumped into the parade and marched with various groups, which just gives an indication of how lighthearted and participatory World Pride 2012 felt.

The culmination of the day took place in Trafalgar Square, where a capacity crowd gathered to take in a performance by gay icon Boy George, who was preceded on the main stage by a bevy of local talent before headliner Deborah Cox delivered a rousing set, cut all too short by time constraints. By 6 p.m. the event was done, and the crowd quietly dispersing to fill the bars along Old Compton Street or dress for the evening’s big parties—like Hustlaball in Brixton, which delivered its usual mélange of pornstars, rentboys, scantily clad muscle boys and sexual intrigues that went on well into the wee hours of the morning.

World Pride now moves on to Toronto in 2014, but looking back on 2012, London gave the LGBT community a day to remember—a day that in its stripped-down imperfection recaptured some of the magic of Pride that hearkened back to a simpler time. And that is a feat that simply can’t be planned.

Stay tuned for more about World Pride in Toronto in 2014 at