Staff and students march in London’s Pride Parade 2023
Our staff and students were beaming with pride as we marched together at London’s 2023 Pride Parade. This was an incredible experience for all who took part, and it was a privilege to be involved in such an important event.
The UK’s biggest Pride event
Pride in London is the UK’s largest Pride event and aims to bring awareness to LGBTQ+ issues, advocate for equality and visibility, and celebrate diversity across all genders and sexualities. The event is open to all and strives to be as inclusive and accessible as possible. Each year, the Mayor of London leads the parade, with over 600 LGBT+ Community Groups, LGBT+ businesses, and partners following behind him.
Never March Alone
This year’s theme was Never March Alone, and with 35,000 marchers and over one million people gathered in the crowds, it certainly didn’t feel as though anyone was alone. We spoke to our Senior Development Manager Ed Gaffney about how it feels to be a part of such a huge event:
It’s lovely to be marching with the students today – it makes me think a lot about the first time I marched. For me as a member of the queer community, it helped me find joy in myself at a formative age. For us to be able to offer an experience like this to our young adults at the School feels very special. From the very excited flag waving (and occasional lift) I know all had a blast.
A lively parade
The parade kicked off at midday, and we were ecstatic as we marched all the way from Hyde Park Corner to Whitehall Palace. The energy was electric; there were smiles, cheers, and a few impressive lifts from our students as we made our way down the parade route. Some of our students talked about how much they enjoyed the day:
I had the best time this weekend at the Pride Parade; it was so much fun walking through London with my friends supporting the LGBTQ+ community!
Being a part of this year’s Pride parade was such a thrilling experience. I find it so comforting that me and my friends were able to march as part of The Royal Ballet School. I’m already looking forward to next year’s parade!
It was my first time being a part of the Pride parade. While there is an aspect of the festival as a protest movement against discrimination and prejudice against LGBTQ+ people, I also felt a strong atmosphere of a festival celebrating diversity. I was moved by the attitude of people who recognise all forms of love.
Embracing our differences
Nurturing our students and encouraging them to be their true selves is at the heart of what we do at The Royal Ballet School. We want everyone at the School to feel secure in their identities and marching together at Pride was a wonderful way for our staff and students to unite. Ed spoke to us about what Pride means to himself and to the younger generation:
Pride for me means the ability to be authentic. I grew up in the mid 90s where it was a struggle to be different and to go against the status quo. Queer identity aligns with so many other things that you have to overcome when you’re younger and there are parallels between different people’s situations. Pride is also a celebration of differences and an acceptance of almost anything. There’s space in the queer community for everyone and anyone. At the School, we offer a holistic education where we are as supportive as possible to all our students and staff, no matter how they identify.
Fighting for equality
Whilst Pride is a vibrant celebration, it is also a protest against discrimination and injustice. There has been so much progress in the fight for equal rights which is reflected each year at Pride. However, there is still more we can do to improve inclusivity, and it was great to be able to learn more throughout Pride month and at the London Parade. Our Content Marketing Manager Emily Dixon told us about changes she has seen throughout her life:
When I was at school, Section 28 was still in force. Therefore, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it is really special to be marching as part of the School I work at in 2023. It’s wonderful that so many staff and students have come along today to march amid such a busy time, especially for the students.
As we came to the parade’s end, everyone was still buzzing from the day’s excitement. Thank you to those who organised this fantastic opportunity for our staff and students. It was definitely a day to remember.