Last year I wrote about Birmingham Pride after the awful attacks on the LGBT community at Pulse nightclub in Orlando where 49 people were murdered. This year I must write about Pride having taken place in a world where Chechnya’a leader Ramzan Kadryov has reportedly organized a pogrom against the LGBT community, rounding up gay men, torturing, and killing them; a time when the “leader of the free world”, US President Trump, has decided that The Whitehouse will not acknowledge LGBT Pride month as it has done over recent years; and even more close to home, I must write up a Pride that took place just a week after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester where 22 people were killed.
It is no surprise that due to the preceding week’s events that we arrived with our friends at Victoria Square to watch the start of the Pride parade somewhat apprehensive. Many of us had received phone calls and texts from relatives and friends telling us to “stay safe” and to “keep vigilant”, in fear that such a large event, for a cause in conflict to those terrorists’ beliefs who found it fit a week previously to murder children, might attract nefarious attention. Subdued compared to previous years the crowd applauded and cheered the efforts of our emergency services to keep us all safe, and remembered the victims of the Manchester attack with a minute’s silence. As the parade kicked off the crowd became more relaxed, and were soon whooping, clapping, and hollering – tolerance resounding across the city as drag queens revelled in sequins and feathers, and go-go boys danced in the street. Thankfully at around 2pm the national threat level was reduced and the weekend went off entirely without incident. The security felt super well organised and security checks, given the recent events, were stringent.
And so to the fun, the frolics, the highlights, and the photos. This year’s pride featured the usual array of drag and cabaret artists, entirely irreverent, and often downright offensive – god help those in the audience who felt like playing their face to Sandra, Miss Jason, and the other seasoned professionals because they were hilariously taken down. Topping & Butch kept it current with their normal topical political banter – their job must’ve been made that much easier with the advent of Trump, Brexit, and the ridiculousness of the last few months of politics. Dua Lipa, Boney M, Charlotte Church, Sophie Ellis Bextor and so so many more rocked the main stage to a thronging crowd. The local joints outside the cordon offered their normal welcome to the weary festival goer who just wanted a sit down and a pint in a proper glass.
We’re already looking forward to next year!
Take a look below at some of the photos we took at the event.