PRIDE IN LONDON 2017
DIVA goes behind the scenes with Pride In London’s Polly Shute
Pride In London is the UK’S biggest Pride festival, attracting an estimated one million people on parade day and more than 170,000 year-round fans and followers.
This year’s event includes a twoweek festival, with the main event taking place in central London on 8 July, and this year we’re especially excited because Radio DIVA will be partnering with Pride In London to host this year’s women’s stage in a brand new location – the iconic Leicester Square! DIVA spoke to Pride In London board director Polly Shute to find out more.
DIVA: What can we expect from Pride In London 2017?
POLLY SHUTE: Something for everyone! Pride season for us begins on 23 June when we launch our communitybased festival. This year we have over 60 events, kicking off with a launch at Tate Britain. Other events include a series of queer plays at the National Theatre, the Pride Spectacular at London Wonderland at the Southbank Centre, and Radio DIVA’S very own Rosie Wilby will be launching her non-fiction debut at Gay’s The Word bookshop.
Parade Day is 8 July. It’s one of the most popular parts of the festival, with more than 22,000 people take part in the march, and thousands more watching. We’ve got four stages this year – the main stage at Trafalgar Square, a family stage in Golden Square, a cabaret stage in Dean Street and of course the Radio DIVA women’s stage in the brand new location of Leicester Square. This will be our second year of hosting a community village in Soho Square. It’s a great place to check out some really amazing charities that we’re proud to provide a platform for. And we are also proud to be hosting a Picnic In The Park at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens for the fourth year running, with UK Black Pride, on Sunday 9 July.
Sounds great, but how much does it cost?
Pride In London is one of largest free Pride events in the world. Entry to
Soho and all the stages is free, but you will find some of my lovely fundraising team asking for donations, especially during the parade, in Soho and around the main stages. Your donations help us to keep growing.
What’s happening on the Radio DIVA women’s stage in Leicester Square?
There will be 20 acts on the day and some great hosts, plus a few surprise guests. We are so excited to get a dedicated space in such an iconic location.
Tell us about this year’s theme – Love Happens Here?
As we continue to battle discrimination at home and abroad, we want London to send a defiant message to those who wish the LGBT+ community harm. Our theme of Love Happens Here is a defiant stand against hate, but also, importantly, a way to celebrate who we are. We want Pride In London to celebrate love in all its forms, and to be part of a movement that symbolises everything rich, colourful, vibrant and courageous in our community. We have had great feedback to the campaign so far, and you’ll see more of it when we launch our advertising campaign in late June.
What’s does your Pride day look like?
Busy! I’m in London for around 8am, usually making sure all is good with my team. Then you will probably see me darting between Trafalgar Square and the Radio DIVA women’s stage. I’ll finish at around 8pm, and after a quick change I’ll be heading to the official women’s after-party.
What’s your favourite part of Pride?
That’s a tough one! I’d say chatting to people who are coming into Trafalgar Square when I’m supporting my fundraising team. It’s great to find out where everyone has come from, and get some real-time feedback.
Do we still need Pride In London?
Absolutely. Pride In London provides a year-round platform for campaign and celebration for the LGBT community. Almost 70% of the groups that marched last year were either charities, community or not-for- profit groups. Many are there to celebrate, but lots are also focused on using the day to keep the focus on the fight for full equality for the LGBT community. We are particularly proud of the key role Pride In London played in the Women’s March in January and more recently in staging a protest outside the Russian embassy against the persecution of gay men in Chechnya.
Any top tips for DIVA readers who are coming to their first Pride In London?
I’d say, make sure you watch the parade. So many groups put so much effort in and it’s great to see the diversity of floats and walking groups. Then just soak up the atmosphere around the stages and Soho. It’s an amazing day.
“We want Pride In London to celebrate love in all its forms”
PRIDE IN LONDON DIRECTOR POLLY SHUTE TELLS DIVA WHY THIS YEAR’S EVENT WILL BE THE BIGGEST AND BEST YET