They call it Pride these days. They used to call it Gay Pride, then remembered lesbians were equally important, then upgraded to LGBT, then added so many more classifications that even an acronym couldn't suffice. The parade kicks off at one. Some years the Mayor of London turns up, but this year he was giving a talk at a Daily-Mail-sponsoredhistory festival in Wiltshire instead so didn't come. Instead some lesser Mayors turned up, of smaller places like Camden, with ceremonial chains glinting and broad smiles. Behind came a stream of humanity, overtaking the West End's prime shopping streets for the afternoon, diverting shoppers behind barriers and buses elsewhere. Tens of thousands, surely, from London and the Home Counties and further afield. They marched, they waved, they cheered, and together they made a powerful collective statement.
The theme of this year's event was Love and Marriage, the latter being one of the few equality bastions not yet to have fallen. This was an excuse for several participants to dress up in bridal wear, many the sort who don't need much of an excuse to dress up, often with tottering heels or grand wigs. But the great majority of those passing by looked nothing of the sort. Three sets of service personnel drew a big cheer for marching in uniform, the crowds recognising how unthinkable this would once have been. Many had dressed to represent their place of work, be that the law courts or Asda, or any of the uniformed 999 services. Others were here in sporting groups, because they kick or throw or surf, others clustered by religion or belief. Indeed it seemed that the majority of parade participants had reclassified themselves by sub-minority, as if to say their sexual orientation was only part of them.
On Oxford Street a small child pushed to the front of the barrier to watch intently as the parade went by. Her parents followed, and there they stood as perhaps two dozen leathermen walked by leading muzzled two-legged dogs. The family group remained, intrigued to see the sights, and welcoming of any freebie that might be thrown their way. The little one seemed particularly keen to collect the stickers which passing special interest groups were holding out, be that "Scout Pride", "Never Kissed A Tory" or the wholly inappropriate "It all starts with a prick". Meanwhile round the corner in Regent Street, a group of Christian fundamentalists stood firm against the relentless incursion of filth. One sermonised his displeasure, while the rest stood mute with words of scripture emblazoned across their banners and aprons. Yes, aprons.
The parade continued to Trafalgar Square before slowing and dispersing. Some headed into the square itself where on the stage beneath Nelson a wannabe pop star sang some ghastly song about celebration, almost perfectly off-key, as if attempting to commit career suicide. Others headed off for a beer or three, enjoying the pedestrianised streets and casting a rainbow across the West End. And some simply melted away, back to whichever corner of reality they spend the other 364 days of the year. Today the sweepers have passed and the roads are back to normal but, rest assured, the Adventure Dykes, the LGBT Sikhs and the Pink Singers live amongst you.