Gay Pride has lots of sparkle, lots of pink plus a hint of grey

The annual event is now more a celebration than a campaign – and this year along came senior figures who fought the old battles

For Amy Ruffell, yesterday was about having fun. The 28-year-old – known as Raw Heidi – and team-mates from the roller derby outfit London Roller Girls took the annual gay gathering as an opportunity to don their – glittery pink – roller skates.

"Roller derby is a sport with a large LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] contingency, but our group is made up of gay, bisexual and straight people," said Ms Ruffell, from Brixton, south London. "It's no longer about proving anything as a gay person but just celebrating and having a big party."

Organisers of the Gay Pride revels expected a million people to join yesterday's event under the theme Carnival of Love. Luigi Andreoli, a

28-year-old nurse from Ealing, west London, embraced the carnival spirit in fluorescent pink fishnet tights, feathers and a neon corset. "It took me about three hours to get ready," he said. "It's fantastic. This is what we are, and Pride is an excuse to show people that we enjoy who we are and there is nothing wrong with it."

The parade, led by the LGBT disability campaigner Kath Gillespie Sells in a white convertible Corvette, snaked from Portland Place in central London to Trafalgar Square. Cost-conscious civil servants – dressed as anything from a bright red lobster to the Lion King – recycled a two-year-old Home Office-sponsored Bedknobs and Broomsticks-themed float due to stretched resources.

Newcomers to the parade, Glug – the Gay, Lesbian Under Water Group – donned Speedos and underwater masks, while the Liberal Democrats' bus bore the message: "Delivering gay marriage! (Then we can divorce the Tories)". Representatives from the Army and Royal Navy were greeted with enthusiastic cheers as they marched to drumbeats in the afternoon sun.

The former England rugby union winger Ben Cohen said the murder of his father, Peter, who died trying to protect someone at a nightclub he owned in 2000, inspired him to join the parade. His death led the retired rugby star, a 32-year-old married father of twin girls who has a huge following among the gay community, to help raise awareness about homophobic bullying.

Gill Rimmer, 32, a transport planner from Camden, north London, who plays for lesbian football team London Lesbian Kickabouts, said the rise in homophobic attacks in the capital had increased the importance of events promoting the gay community.

"Living in London I don't feel persecuted on a daily basis, but I don't think my experience would be the same if I lived in other parts of the country," she said. "London Pride is not just for Londoners so it's important for people living outside London to be able to come here and celebrate with like-minded people."

As the skies clouded over in Trafalgar Square, the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who had carried a placard satirising the BNP leader Nick Griffin in the parade, took to the stage. He criticised London politicians, including Mayor Boris Johnson, for failing to attend the event.

Then it was time to celebrate: families, gay couples, straight couples and groups of people old and young danced to live music.

There was little dancing at the first Gay Pride march in 1972, when gay and lesbian pioneers marched in an act of public solidarity and defiance. What started as a battle for equal rights has been almost overtaken by a celebration of the right to party.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future