After the deaths of 50 of our LGBT brothers, sisters and allies in Orlando at the hands of a fanatic, what can be said? What can be done?
We each feel helpless in the wake of such terror. We can't bring the victims back. We can't even promise this will never happen again. But we can join together, shout loudly with one voice and stand tall in the face of such brutality. And on Saturday June 25 we will.
The first London Pride took place on July 1 1972, with around 2000 people marching. Those 2,000 heroes stood up against the oppression of the time. It is saddening to think that, over 40 years later, marching for our right to co-exist peacefully remains just as relevant.
Four decades ago, those 2,000 marched against widespread hatred towards them and their community, simply for being born differently. They marched against homophobic and transphobic legislation. They marched against violence perpetrated against them because of hatred of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Today, homophobic bullying remains rife in schools and our LGBT+ teens and young adults have one of the highest suicide rates in the U.K.. This year, North Carolina passed a transphobic bathroom bill, with its very objective the victimisation of the trans people. Two days ago, 49 people were shot dead because of this same hatred.
The most powerful weapon at the disposal of those that hate us isn't a gun or a tank or a bomb. It is our fear and we must not let them have it.
Fear is a powerful thing. Up until a few years ago, I feared I would live the rest of my life in sin. Fear caused me to hate myself. It caused me to hate others. It forced me cry in the shadows, too ashamed even to speak of my "sinfulness."
There are those that still believe it is a sin for you and I to kiss each other good night. For you and I to love each other. So be it. But, to borrow from a popular song, there is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin.
Learning not only to accept one's sexual identity but to embrace it with both arms and to celebrate it, that is what Pride means to me. I joined Pride in London because I believe that our young people should grow up loving who they are and excited for their futures. What better way to get them excited than to see 40,000 rainbow coloured people marching through the greatest city on earth.
This year's Pride in London theme is #nofilter. This isn't just a hashtag, but a philosophy. The world needs us, for we are the game changers and the boundary pushers. We challenge, subvert, pave the way, smash the norm. Love should have no filter. Identity has no filter. Join us for Pride in London as we strive to live our lives with no fear and no filter.
Pride in London has become one of the world's biggest and most vibrant LGBT+ festivals. We have fast become one the largest events in the city, and as many as one million people are predicted to make their way to London to celebrate this year.
With tens of thousands of people expected to the traditional march through central London, this year's Pride in London promises to be the biggest ever and we invite you to join us.
We come together with our straight allies on June 25 with one voice not just to commemorate the past, or to change the present, but to mark the future as ours. A future where we aren't defined by our gender; where we aren't sent to prison in 78 countries; where we aren't thrown off buildings.
Let them see us dance, let them see us sing, let them see us love. Don't let anyone scare us away.
As originally featured in Newsweek.