Episode 11: Pride in London
Crowd : You're listening to Sex Talk. A podcast all about sex. In this episode expect to hear some colourful language and conversations of a sexual nature. You may want to pop on a pair of headphones for some privacy during this podcast.
Ian: I saw two older men who were crying but it was happy tears because they were enjoying what they were seeing, and they probably fought for their right to see this.
Peter: The first pride came about because we wanted to challenge the idea that it was shameful to be gay, so in contrast to the way we were condemned we wanted to say no we're not ashamed we're proud.
Voice Over: Sex talk. –
Ian : Hello and welcome to Sex Talk, a podcast all about Sex! I'm Ian Howley, Chief Executive of LGBT HERO, and I'm here with the rest of the LGBT HERO group (hear group cheer) and we're at the start of the Parade at Pride in London! (cheers)
Pride in London is the city's biggest one day event, with around 1 million people attending! LGBT HERO is one of around 500 different groups here at Pride in London today, and we're here to celebrate LGBT+ life, to continue the fight for equality and to challenge prejudice!
We're currently stood on Duchess Street in the heart of London - at the start of the parade - and are about to begin our journey down to Trafalgar Square.
I'm going to pass you over to Hilary and Adele now as we're about to get moving, but we'll meet again at the end of the parade!
-- ** Voice Over:** Sex talk, with your hosts Adele and Hilary –
Hilary : Thank you very much Ian! We'll be hearing more from Ian and the rest of the LGBT HERO group when they get to the end of the parade…
Adele : Hilary what an amazing day this is.
Hilary : Absolutely.
Adele : This is our very special pride in London edition of sex talk.
Hilary : Indeed, indeed, indeed, and my very first pride!
Adele : What are you thinking so far?
Hilary : Do you know what, it's very colourful, I'm seeing a lot of suspenders.
Adele : Do you know it's just like carnival?
Hilary : I thought that, it's exactly like carnival but a lot more colourful. A lot more fairy dust and glitter than carnival but yeah definitely an interesting mix of people, culture, just looks like everyone's out having fun really, it's just a nice summer's day.
Adele : Pride's not let me down, I thought they'd give you a big welcome and I think that's how Pride feels to me, like a welcoming home, like a family environment, do you feel like that?
Hilary : Definitely I think everybody's up for a good laugh. Even just getting the train in this afternoon it's like everyone was in such a bubbly mood, very, very electric atmosphere and I think it's really charged up to be a good day for most people and I definitely want to know what's going to happen after this, because the football and loads of parties going on and yeah it just looks like people are out to have a great time tonight.
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Hilary : If it's your first time listening to Sex Talk, make sure you subscribe to the podcast so you can go back through the archives and listen to our previous episodes!
Adele : And you can follow us on Twitter @SexTalkRadioUK and visit our website sextalk.radio
Hilary: Adele, as we know it's my first Pride, but it's not yours, how many times have you been?
Adele : To London pride or Pride in London as it's called? I think it's my third time because I used to work at weekends when I first started doing radio in London so I could never come, and I used to be like that kid that got grounded and I'd just look through the window at work and just see everyone having the best time, because the parade starts near where I work so it was really torturous. But ever since I've not been doing weekends I've made sure I've come, so this is my third year and I just love it because it's the one place, and the one day a year that I don't have to come out. Pride is something I make sure I go to just to say thank you to the people that make it possible for pride to happen. It's amazing that we can sit here and feel totally safe, totally accepted and everyone's just sat together, there's allies here as well, there's loads of straight people here, there's loads of tourists that have stumbled across pride, and everybody's getting on and that's what pride means to me. It really does mean family and it feels like home and I think just thinking about the UK we rarely in this country, I don't know why, are encouraged to celebrate our diversity and I think Pride definitely does that, it really does unite the kingdom, everyone's together and everyone's equal.
-- ** Voice Over:** Sex talk. Real stories, real issues. -
Adele: So coming up on this episode of Sex Talk, we'll be hearing from Peter Tatchell, one of the organisers of the first ever UK Pride in 1972, who we caught up with earlier in the week.
Hilary: We'll also be chatting to Ian from LGBT HERO when they reach us at the end of the parade here near the river Thames!
Adele : And we're going to be having a chat with one of the organisers of Pride in London to ask them why Pride matters in 2018.
Hilary : And we've taken our Sex Dictionary on a day out, we'll be asking some poor, unsuspecting member of the crowd to play a game of Word Porn with us! Imagine that Adele.
Adele: We're going to get barred from Pride you know.
Hilary : We might have the police looking at us.
Adele : We need to do a travel edition, taking it outside, now we've started a thing. But first, let's hear what it means to some of the crowds here celebrating today.
-- ** Voice Over:** Sex talk. –
It's just community and being able to be out and let other people know that they're not alone.
I just hope for everyone to have fun, be happy, love who they are, love everybody and just have a good time.
It's all about unity. We're all a community so it's about coming together as a community and celebrating. It's just liberating.
Being proud to hold my wife's hand instead of being worried about what people are going to say.
I'm with the royal college of nursing and we are marching on behalf of all of our members but also all of our patients and the diversity of communities everywhere. It's about all different parts of the LGBTQI spectrum coming together and being visible for a day and making sure we know we're all equally valid and celebrate each other.
Pride is just all about being able to express who you are across the LGBTQ+ community and all of our allies and remembering we still have a great deal to fight for including health inequalities like HIV which disproportionality affects men having sex with men and trans people.
-- ** Voice Over:** Sex talk. -
Adele: So as you can hear, everybody is having a great time embracing Pride this year at Pride in London.
Hilary: Earlier, we were extremely lucky to catch up with an incredibly important figure in the LGBT+ community, Peter Tatchell.
-- ** Voice Over:** Sex talk. Real stories, real issues. –
Adele : On the phone to us now is Peter Tatchell. Peter is a human rights campaigner who has campaigned tirelessly for the rights of LGBT+ people all over the world and was recently detained in Russia when protesting the treatment of the country's LGBT+ people.
Hilary : Now Peter you were involved with the first official UK gay pride rally which was held in London on the first of July 1972. How did the idea for the first pride come about and what were the challenges in getting it started in the first place?
Peter : Well the first Pride came about because we wanted to challenge the idea that it was shameful to be gay, so in contrast to the way we were condemned we wanted to say no we're not ashamed, we're proud. We're proud to be gay, it's good to be gay and that's the how the idea emerged. When we conceived it we were very unsure about what kind of support we'd get because in those days of course most LGBT+ people were in the closet, but we wanted to try and do something to change the mentality, to shift from the mentality of victimhood towards 'victorhood' so that we became the victors not the victims.
Adele : You must be so proud looking back over the past 46 years of how much you've achieved and how loud and proud a lot of people, myself included, are. Why is Pride still so important in 2018 Peter?
Peter : Of course Pride began as a celebration of LGBT life and culture and also a protest for LGBT+ human rights. We still need that today. As I mentioned to the Prime Minister when I met her in Downing Street this week, still today LGBT+ refugees fleeing violent persecution in homophobic countries are often detained in asylum detention centres and often threatened with deportation back to the home country that they fled. We also know that still today the government is not committed to compensate gay and bisexual men who were convicted under historic anti-gay laws in the past, many of whom suffered imprisonment, fines, lost their jobs, their home and even mental breakdowns. And the final point is that even now in 2018 religious organisations have qualified exemptions which allow them to discriminate against LGBT+ people. So those are three out of probably a dozen or more issues where there is still work to be done and we need Pride to not just be a party which is fine, but also to be a loud voice for equal human rights.
Hilary : Now sex talk aims to be some sort of help for people of all backgrounds and sexual orientations to ensure that they stay safe, does your campaign work include anything around safe sexual health?
Peter : We support those organisations that specialise in prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. We also work with people in education fields to promote better relationships and sex education in schools so that young people of whatever sexuality or gender identity, that they feel safe and secure, that they make wise and responsible sexual choices, that they have emotional backup so that when things go wrong in relationships they have some sense of how to deal with them and they know where to go to get support so yeah for us supporting sexual and emotional health is a really important part of the work we do.
Adele : Fabulous, definitely. So Peter I'm going to be taking Hilary, my co-presenter, to Pride for his first time this weekend, he's dead excited, can you tell him what it was like at the very first one because I want him to be prepared.
Peter : Well of course the first LGBT+ Pride in Britain in 1972 was very different from today. There were only about 700 of us, there was a police officer for every marcher. The reaction from the public was three fold. First of all about a third were overtly hostile, they shouted insults and anti-gay jibes, some through coins, bottles, whatever they could grab their hands on. We had to duck and dive throughout the march. Then about a third were gob smacked, is the way to describe it, and they couldn't believe that gay people would dare show their faces. And then there was another third who were actually supportive. They clapped, they cheered, they expressed support and that was very gratifying because we didn't expect that a third of the public passing through the streets as we marched by would be supportive but of course we've built on that in successive prides and now you'd be very, very unlucky to have any kind of negative reaction on the streets. There are hundreds of thousands of people out there watching, cheering, expressing their support and so on, so it's a big switch around from what life was like on the first gay pride in 1972.
Adele: You can't see us but we've both got goose bumps, thank you for telling that story and that transformation that's wonderful to hear.
Hilary : Absolutely and what I picked up on was you said it started off as a march and now I suppose people see Pride a lot more as a party, a celebration, would you say that description is accurate?
Peter : Of course the LGBT+ Pride parade in 1972 was billed as a carnival parade and it did have a very joyful celebratory theme and atmosphere to it, but it also had a very strong, a very strong, profile for LGBT human rights issues and I think that's the best way to go and what I find so depressing is that last year out of the hundreds of groups and businesses participating in Pride in London only 10 had any kind of message about human rights. There is no room for apathy or complacency. We shouldn't be sitting on our laurels, we should keep pressing forward the battle for LGBT liberation.
Adele: Well said Peter, there's more work to be done and with people like you around it's going to get done.
Peter : Thank you and best wishes to all your listeners, happy pride!
Hilary : Thank you Peter, take care now.
-- ** Voice Over:** You're listening to sex talk. Find out more by going to sextalk.radio and share your thoughts across social media using hashtag sextalkpod. –
Adele : Thinking back to how it started Hilary in 1972 and how it is now, the progress is incredible but also, and I'd like to get your thoughts on this, there is more to be done.
Hilary : Absolutely. One thing that Peter mentioned there was that a lot more needed to be done by our country to protect people who are immigrants who are suffering persecutions in their countries for living their truth basically, so there is still a lot to be done because people are still afraid of coming out about their sexuality because they feel they might be judged for it.
Adele : There are still 70 countries around the world where it's illegal to be gay so the actual fabric of your being, who you are, like imagine if it was illegal to be straight that would just be unfathomable and it's the same for people who are gay, that's how we feel when we're born that's who we are inside and to think your state doesn't support who you are at heart must really hurt those people and we've still got a long way to go before things are a lot better. And just going back to football as well I think I think it's brilliant that he took the time to fly to the home of the world cup this year to Russia to tell them that their human rights need checking, they need sorting. Today Peter got named as number one on the Pride power list 2018. What a guy. So congratulations Peter, and me and Hilary are here to back you up, we're here to support too.
Hilary: Absolutely he's absolutely amazing, great guy, and just to think that what we're at right now was an idea in someone's mind just goes to show what you can achieve - if you can think it you can achieve it.
Adele : That's our second book. I love this, inspirational quotes from Hilary.
Hilary: A recent government survey of one hundred thousand LGBT people in the UK found that 68% of respondents said they had avoided holding hands in public with a same-sex partner, fearing a negative reaction.
Adele : And 70 percent said they had avoided being open about their sexual orientation due to fears about receiving a negative reaction.
Hilary : So seeing that sort of statistic of 68% of people saying they're afraid of holding hands in public, these are all statistics that keep coming up and we just have to do a lot more better.
Adele : It's the fact that they said the thought of doing it gave them fear, so it's not even the reality of doing it so that's even worse in a way, they're too scared to even try it.
Hilary: Now you're dealing with emotional things as well. These figures show that there is still a long way to go in the UK for LGBT+ equality.
-- ** Voice Over:** Sex talk, real stories real issues. –
Adele: Joining us now is an amazing woman who volunteers her time to make Pride in London happen, the Director of Strategic Partnership, Polly Shute. Now I know that's true because you have director written on your t shirt.
Polly : Must be true. Hi Adele how are you?
Adele: I'm great thank you this is Hilary.
Hilary: Hi Polly, welcome to Sex Talk Polly!
Adele: Hilary didn't realise, and a lot of people don't realise, that Pride is pretty much run by volunteers.
Polly : Yeah that's true there's 150 of us that work year round to put Pride on. We have one paid member of staff bless him, he's a very busy man, and then another 800-1000 volunteers who turn up on parade day. It's fantastic and on days like this when you turn up, you don't realise all the work that goes into it, and you're busy and we're a bit like a dysfunctional family that argues with each other every five minutes but when we all turn up today it's like, wow it was worth it, but yeah it's an amazing feeling and I'm very privileged to be part of such a fantastic volunteer team.
Hilary : You should be proud of yourself.
Adele: Thank you for doing this, without you we wouldn't all be so happy and this family right here now is very happy so cheers for that, so what does Pride in London mean to you?
Polly : Well as a gay woman I didn't come out until I was 41 and Pride was one of my coming out moments. So it was coming to Pride about 10 years ago when I realised that this was actually who I was, so I always wanted to get involved with volunteering because of that so I think for me Pride is an essential part of my coming out story and I hear that a lot from people. I hear a lot from people that this is the moment they feel that they can come out and be their true selves and it's life changing for them and that's why I am so passionate about getting involved and it played such a huge part in me coming out later in life, and I don't want that to happen to younger people. I want them to come to Pride as young children, see the parade, and just feel happy about being who they are. And I think if they didn't exist – not just Pride in London but the 40 Prides that happen across the UK – play a really strong role in helping people feel comfortable about their gender and comfortable about their identity.
Adele: Definitely and on that we spoke to Peter Tatchell who told us about the first ever UK Pride he was involved in organising in 1972 and how different it was.
Polly : Definitely. The people that marched in 1972 are real trail blazers, and actually I was at a parade briefing the other day where a woman stood up, she'd been marching for 30 years and she just said the first time she used to march people would jeer and spit at her and now she finds it amazing that people will celebrate and cheer and she said it's fantastic how much we've moved forward but we still recognise that there's a lot more to do. I still know that there's over 70 countries that I want to visit with my girlfriend or my partner I have to pretend that they're my friend, and there's 10 where I'd face the death penalty. So we've come a long way and days like this you couldn't have a better day than this for showing how far we've come, but there's still a long way to go.
Hilary : This has been my very first Pride, I know that what I'm taking away from this is Hilary, next time make sure you come in a vest because it's going to be hot, bring a bottle of water – sunscreen – but for you what are perhaps the three most important things that people should take away from today?
Polly : Certainly for people who identify as role models take away from today that you have an important role to play in making people feel comfortable, and role models can be anyone that's comfortable about coming out and anyone that comes out on a day like this I would say go back into the workplace and be proud of who you are because there will be someone else behind the scenes who's struggling, so I think take away that feeling of being proud and bring it to life. I think acceptance, so I think Pride is a really important day to accept other people. They may not have the same views as you – we had a protest at the start of the parade, and my view is it's really important for everyone to accept everyone else even when they might not agree with them. And the third one we always get told by the police that this is one of the happiest days of the year and they have less crime, and wouldn't it be wonderful if more of this happened where more people came out in London and because everyone is in such a good mood and everyone is celebrating that crime goes down? I think for me it would be those three things.
Hilary : Amazing. Absolutely amazing and for all the hard work you've put in, I'm going to make sure you're not doing the cleaning up afterwards.
Polly : I can tell you I definitely won't be doing the cleaning up afterwards. I shall probably be sitting somewhere in a bar having a few drinks, but thank you for that and thank you for this. Pride is also just a great platform for us to celebrate where the LGBT community has come from but also campaign to make sure that we win further rights so thank you because every media interview we have, every time we speak to someone it gets the message out there and in essence that's what Pride is about.
Adele: Thank you Polly.
Polly : Thank you it's a pleasure.
Adele :We are recording sex talk at Pride in London.
Hilary : Yes indeed, and we're sat in the beautiful Whitehall gardens and we're joined by 5 fantastic men who have been doing an amazing job today.
Ian: This weather, I'm not built for this weather… I'm Ian Howly I'm the chief executive of LGBT HERO.
Alan: I'm Alan Palmer I'm the chair of HERO.
Tom: Hi my name's Tom I'm a volunteer for HERO.
James: My name's James and I'm a HIV activist and volunteer for GMFA.
Adele : So we're in Whitehall gardens and these gorgeous men have just walked the one and a quarter miles. Did you know it was that far in the parade?
Ian: It felt further, It took a long time to get here.
Adele : How long?
Ian: Probably about 2 and a half hours in total.
Adele : You burnt some calories though, little work out.
Ian: Calories for beer!
Alan: We've earnt our drink.
I'm bursting for a wee as well!
Adele : What's the best thing you've seen today?
Ian: Generally what we enjoyed was the atmosphere and that's what we bounced off, the atmosphere of the crowd and people got what HERO was about and we got what the crowd was about and we all enjoyed each other's company.
Adele : Well tell us what HERO's about.
Ian: HERO is an equality and rights organisation and we were set up to champion the rights of LGBTQ people. We target mental health, sexual health and general health wellbeing whilst also trying to improve the rights of LGBTQ people in the UK.
Adele : Absolutely wonderful. It's a pleasure to come to Pride and cheer you guys on but what's it like being in the actual parade?
Ian: Madness, absolute madness.
Alan: It's a lot of standing around and then you come into the actual streets and it's quite empowering because you're with people who you have some shared connection with, you know that they have had struggles similar to you and actually being able to march proudly for any organisation in front of people who are watching and cheering you on is for anyone that's grown up feeling slightly marginalised is awesome and you stand tall at the end.
Tom: It just feels like an incredible party. But a party where you get to raise awareness of organisations like HERO, GMFA and OutLife.
Ian: And it also means a lot to people who are watching. I saw two older men who were crying but it was happy tears because they were enjoying what they were seeing and they probably fought for their right to see this.
Alan: And this year we've been joined – not here but in our march, by really young people that are just starting their journeys, starting to identify and it's so powerful to see them at a young age, far younger than I was prepared to march, embracing their future and it's wonderful to be part of that and support them.
Hilary : I keep hearing the word march, do you see it as a march or more of a celebration?
Alan: I think a march is a celebration. The thing about Pride is it is what you want it to be and sometimes I come here and it's a protest, sometimes it's a celebration, sometimes it's a parade because I'm happy, sometimes it is a march in commemoration of people that aren't here. I think it's all things and people bring different things to Pride.
Tom: For me I think Pride is still very much a protest. To be able to walk down the parade with my partner James and hold his hand was incredible and it shouldn't be an act of defiance but it still is in 2018 unfortunately.
Adele : Do you think it's important for people to come out?
Alan: I think it's important for people to come out personally. I think you can only come out when you're ready and obviously you don't only come out once, it's a continuation, but personally I think if you're in a position to be a role model and be open and honest in your life is a great way to role model, I think that's really powerful, particularly if you're not a celebrity. If you're a normal person in school or your workplace out and about and you can be open and honest about it you will change someone's life.
Adele : We spoke to Polly before and she's a director at Pride and she said it's so important that when you go back to your job you are out and proud because there will be people who are there that will be struggling who you don't even realise. Unfortunately that's the kind of ironic side of being gay or LGBTQI, sometimes you feel so ashamed about coming out that you can't come out, so you need people to be visible at work, in business, and that's why it's so important that businesses do support.
Ian: Absolutely peer support is vital and I think when you see other people like you who are living their true self empowers you to be the same.
Adele : Speaking of coming out, today's a day that Hilary would come out as a straight person, as an ally, how important are allies to this movement?
Alan: Allies are so important. They are how we're able to do this. They've been with us, some allies have been with us for years. At HERO we've got allies who are straight identifying who've been with us for 25 years who support us. I think on the streets of London today there were so many allies cheering us on and it's great to have their support but we need their support all year round and we always need allies to be near us, asking us what it is we need, and helping us to achieve that. To be slightly cynical it's not a one day thing, you shouldn't need to come out as an ally because you should be one anyway. It's about human rights and no one should need to decide whether they accept that or not.
Adele : We wondered if you fancied playing a little game?
Alan : I always liked games, why not?
Alan: Let's go for it.
-- ** Voice Over:** Sex talk. Word porn. -
Adele : We have a book, I'll pass it to Alan who can read the title.
Alan: This is the Wordsworth dictionary of sex, indispensable guide to the terminology of sexual practice from science to slang.
Adele : What are you going to be called?
Ian: Team HERO.
Adele : Good idea. So what happens is we play word porn, you give us a letter, we find a word beginning with that letter in this dictionary, read out the word and you have to guess what it is. You could as inspiration use one of the colours on the rainbow to give us a letter but it's totally up to you.
Adele : R for rainbow. Okay Hilary would you like to find a word?
Hilary : Yes well… let's choose one together.
Adele : We're on rimming so far but I feel like you might guess that one.
Alan: Never heard of it…
Ian: Yeah none of us have heard of that
Adele : Well it's a slang term for oral anal activity but you wouldn't know about that, maybe that one? Round eye.
Alan: What do we think it might mean, round eye? Someone brand new to the scene, wide eyed like a virgin on the scene?
Hilary : When you hear the definition…
Adele : No it's a part of the body?
Ian: Entry of the penis?
Hilary : Other side.
Tom: The ass?
Adele : There you go! It's an anus!
Hilary : A slang term for anus especially in the context of anal intercourse.
Alan: That's an old book.
-- ** Voice Over:** Word porn. –
Adele : Well thank you very much team HERO.
Hilary : What are your plans for the rest of the evening?
Ian: Well Pride is a celebration and we're just going to enjoy the rest of today as a team, as volunteers and as a community.
Hilary : And if there's any three things that you've taken away from today what would they be?
Ian: Pride still matters.
Alan: Because of us it gets better.
Tom: Bring water! Bring as much water as you can.
Adele : Thank you very much guys, team HERO!
-- ** Voice Over:** Sex talk. Starting a conversation about sex. –
Adele : Unfortunately we've come to the end of sex talk but we just want to say thank you so much to everybody who's joined us today. Thank you Ian and everybody at LGBT HERO.
Hilary: And thank you Polly Shute from Pride in London for doing an amazing job.
Adele : And thank you to Sadiq Kahn and the people of London for putting on Pride in London and a wonderful parade, and thank you to that guy that just went past on his scooter in leather hot pants and a unicorn horn and Hilary I think enjoyed it very much. Thank you sir.
Hilary : And congratulations to that couple that just got married over there. There's a couple that just got married in these beautiful gardens and lots of people that are celebrating love.
Adele: If you need further advice or support on any of the issues raised in this episode of Sex Talk contact your GP. They should provide out of hours contact details for emergency calls.
Hilary : Alternatively you can go online - www.nhs.co.uk - to find your nearest STI testing and treatment service.
Adele : To find out more about LGBT HERO, you can visit their website, lgbtHERO.org.uk
Hilary : You can order a self-testing HIV test from hivselftest.co.uk and you can see if you're eligible for a free testing kit from the Terrence Higgins Trust by going to test.tht.org.uk/
Adele : And if you're concerned about HIV - Positively UK - can offer advice. Their national helpline is open Monday to Friday 10am-4pm on 020 7713 0444 and you can visit their website positivelyuk.org
Hilary: If you are celebrating pride in your city or town – have fun! Until next time stay safe
Adele: And keep talking.
Voice Over: Thanks for listening to sex talk. The conversation doesn't stop here. Search hashtag sex talk pod and keep talking. Sex talk.