A protest to 'Reclaim Leeds Pride'
Sky explains the reasons for the protest blockade of Leeds Pride in 2017.
TRANSCRIPTSo, in, yeah, the summer of 2017 there was a group of people from various different organisations in Leeds – I think it was No Borders, Black Lives Matter, Trans Leeds, My Queer Culture, My Q Culture, Queer and Now, and Angel of Youths – the main, yeah, the main groups in that block and we decided that we needed to take back pride from sort of corporate sponsorship and what it’s become and reclaim it as a protest, and not for profit. So, the reason why we thought this was important was because of the sort of hypocrisy around a lot of these big corporate sponsorships, such as like Barclays Bank leading pride for that year in Leeds, but also other big corporations like Virgin sponsoring a big part of the London pride, and that’s the same organisation that’s – their planes are taking LGBT people back to countries where they’re, they can be prosecuted for their gender or sexuality, and it just felt like it’s, it’s not a community event, it’s not, it’s not connecting to the roots of its, where its origins are – it was originally a protest against police violence, where Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera threw stilettos at the police who were raiding their nightclub, in self-defence [laughs] And yeah, we needed to reclaim that as a protest – it’s a celebration and a protest, but it’s also a chance and a platform to get like big issues that still face, that the community still face today to – to platform them and to pressure, pressure governments to think about human rights and start these conversations, rather than just celebrating how many employees there are in a company, and not thinking about yeah the wider issues and that, and you can see the discontent around in the community by how many alternative or black or trans prides are being set up as sort of offshoots of the main pride that isn’t representing, yeah, the voices of the community, and the issues that need to be talked about as well as celebrated.
So, as a result of that, we organised a block that was deliberately gonna jump in front of the parade and lead the march. So there was about 30 or 40 of us, and including kids and people like young and old, and people of all nationalities and backgrounds. We, like, yeah as soon as the horns went off and the pride started we jumped in front of the orange rainbow flag and let off smoke – what are they called? Smoke bombs? I can’t remember what they’re called – smoke flares. And there was a really good picture that was taken of the, of the block, which yeah went viral really quickly and had like 30,000 views or something. And we had a lot of banners that were talking about, like, ‘Black lives matter’, and ‘No human being illegal’, and the names of Marsha and Sylvia were on there with the big stiletto and just visibilising these other like messages that we thought were important. And we had a big sound system and speaker that was talking throughout the parade about why we’re here, what we’re protesting, what issues the LGBTQI+ communities still face today, such as being deported by the Home Office in Leeds, or the police violence they’re like experiencing disproportionately. And it was a success in that we were, they let us go in the end, like it was a bit of a tussle at the start and the police were trying to take off, to take the sound system off us and stop us from like going up the street we wanted to go up and like rerouted the pride march to go up a different street so that they, cos they couldn’t move us off the road, but in the end we kind of jumped back in front, back in front of them on the other road that they’d moved to. And there was a lot of young people who kind of got bored of what they were – the celebration behind and joined in to the protest block, and even got on the mic and talked about their experiences, which was really lovely, and they were maybe 16-years-old or something, which was really lovely to see.