by Sarah O’Neill, South East London Socialist Party
LGBTQ+ people have always had to fight to survive, let alone thrive. At the Reclaim Pride protest on 24 July, there were plenty of placards reminding us of this struggle – but that struggle has been co-opted and appropriated by corporations and capitalists.There were placards with direct and distinct demands – end conversion therapy, stop the deportation of LGBTQ+ refugees, and for adequate trans healthcare – in opposition to the empty platitudes of ‘rainbow’ capitalism.
Just the start
Peter Tatchell’s call for Reclaim Pride protests is a promising start. The vital next step is a democratic decision on the demands and slogans the movement will stand behind. This must involve workers and the trade unions – the struggle cannot be divided, but must be fought en masse.
Starting at Parliament Square in central London, and ending in Hyde Park, 4,000 joined Reclaim Pride to demand real equality, not whatever crumbs have been offered by bankers and bosses who willingly make deals with viciously homophobic governments.
Instead, Reclaim Pride was filled with radical people of all ages, angry and willing to fight for change. Black Lives Matter activists, young people and students, all demonstrated their support, alongside trade union banners showing solidarity with LGBTQ+ people.
See also LGBTQ+ workers’ charter
The Socialist Party had built for Reclaim Pride among the workers’ movement. We got the demo announced at trades councils and other union meetings across London. Two thirds of the trade union banners had been mobilised by Socialist Party members.
We did this because the workers’ movement has the power to challenge LGBTphobia – both in the workplace and wider society. It was a very welcome change from capitalist tokenism.
The crowd was made up of people, old and young, families with pushchairs, multiple generations in one group, partners, friends and supporters. It was inclusive and lively, but angry and visible.
Pride can never be removed from its radical roots. Everywhere you looked there were Socialist Party placards which boldly linked the need to fight for LGBTQ+ liberation with the need to fight for socialism.
Chants of ‘Tories, Tories, Tories, out, out, out!’ and ‘What do we want? Liberation! When do we want it? Now!’ show Pride is not a party – Pride is political. If we are to take away anything from this event it is this reminder – the first Pride was not a parade, but a riot.
Pride is a protest! And rainbow capitalism does not and cannot offer equality. We say, unite and fight for real liberation and socialism change. Today London socialist party members mobilised among the trade union movement for pride today because they can fight for LGBT+ rights in the work place and society as a whole.
More photos on our Facebook page.