World Pride 2012 is in London this year – so what’s going on? What’s there to do?

Well, this article was originally going to be about all the exciting events lined up as part of World Pride 2012 in London next week… but as it turns out, not so much!  London’s World Pride on Saturday, July 7th, has been significantly scaled-back.

Much is being said in LGBT circles around London about missed opportunities and the wasted efforts of volunteers, not to mention must aspersion-casting at the Pride London organisation, but none of it helps you very much if you’ve got a weekend trip to London booked and now aren’t sure what to do with it…  but Fear Not!  You certainly won’t be the only one in that situation and with everyone geared-up to celebrate, we’re going to have a damned good party anyway – even if the pubs do close at their normal time!

There are lots of gay things going on around London independently of the official Pride events, but let’s start with a recap of what’s happening with World Pride:

The big event will be the Pride Procession.  It’s taking its familiar route through the heart of London’s West End, but it’s now going to be starting at 11am on Saturday.  The procession assembles around Baker Street (Baker Street Tube) before setting off and if you fancy tagging on to the end, lots of people usually do and you can march through the cheering crowds with the rest of us!  Dress proudly – in fact, dress outrageously proudly, or you’ll be lost in the crowd!

After the parade disperses a few hours later, most people will head back to Trafalgar Square or on to Soho.  Trafalgar Square will have a stage under Nelson’s Column where there’ll be a variety of entertainment acts and political speeches throughout the afternoon.  Soho, the centre of Gay London, will host the more traditional revelries (drinking, eating and people-watching) until late into the night, when the action transfers to any one of a number of clubs around the West End and Vauxhall.

If you’re in town for longer than just the day there are literally dozens of Pride-related events you can go see.  The Pride London website has a long list to scroll through, but I’m going to highlight a few of my personal favourites…

Go along to the London Gay Men’s Chorus’ World Pride concert on Friday 6th July in Southwark Cathedral (London Bridge Tube).  It’s free entry with a “suggested £10 donation.”  The Chorus are celebrating their twenty-first anniversary this year with a selection of hits from a long back-catalogue, alongside a few newly arranged pieces.  The acoustic of the cathedral should show off the voices – and the eclectic repertoire – to their best advantage.  [BTW I should declare an interest here – I sing Baritone with the Chorus – but it’s still a damn-good night out!]

Another free-entry is the London Gay Photographers Network Exhibition, f20-12, held around the corner from Charing Cross in the Strand Gallery, John Adam Street.  Not especially gay-themed (although there’s certainly a variety of manflesh on display!) the exhibition showcases the best works of nearly sixty gay photographers and runs daily until Sunday 8th July.  (The exhibits are for sale at pretty reasonable prices too!)

If you fancy a night at the theatre, the Menier Chocolate Factory is staging a production of The Torch Song Trilogy throughout the Pride period.  The Menier is known for staging gems which often go on to bigger things and Torch Song has had good reviews here.  Probably best to book in advance as it’s an “intimate” venue and I understand it’s selling well.  They have a restaurant on site too which does a decent pre-theatre menu.

So, those are my suggestions for your Pride weekend!

Whatever official events do or don’t happen on World Pride Day 2012, it will still be a great weekend for LGBT folks around London and, at a risk of sounding trite, it’s worth remembering that real pride comes from within; within oneself and within one’s community… so get together with your friends and go out and celebrate!