We talked to people at Pride In London on Saturday about their beauty looks, and why they attended the parade
I have been a London Pride goer for many years, but have never before quite managed to make it for the 12pm parade kick off. With most attendees still on their first G&T tin of the day and the midday sun blessing us with that rare and perfect heat which pinks our cheeks without smudging our eyeliner, the vibe in Portland Place felt ripe with purpose. All eyes and ears were on the Dykes on Bikes as we waited for the rev of their Harley’s which would signal the beginning of the parade bound for Whitehall.
The onward fight for visibility, to disrupt the status quo in the name of LGBTQ+ rights, is what continues to rile many to don their favourite wig and get to central London on the first weekend of July every year – and especially so on this Saturday, the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall uprising. From where we were standing, each float, whether showing off the dancing ladies of Tesco, the blue flags of the NHS or the black lettered signs of ‘NO CELEBRATION FOR ALL TIL LIBERATION FOR SUM’, received equal cheers from the crowd.
Protest, party, or a beautiful clash of the two, whatever drew the individuals in the crowd on Saturday, Pride offered the opportunity to see how defining one’s own aesthetic through beauty products and make-up remains entwined with the community. The internet had promised me this would be the most diverse parade London had seen, and this year's beauty looks certainly reflected this. I asked the people of Pride in London parade to talk me through what Pride, make-up and self-expression mean to them.
What is your name?
My name is Jay.
What brings you here today Jay?
I am riding with the Gay Bikers Motorcycle Club. I am representing trans bikers, as a Trans man. It’s also an excuse to be fabulous.
Absolutely Fabulous! What makes you proud?
Being out, being an example, showing that trans guys can do everything that CIS guys do. And we look fabulous doing it!
You certainly do, that is undeniable. Can you describe for me your aesthetic today?
That captures it!
Wait… glittery military leather! Slash fabulous!
Lisa, Poregie, Silvie
Hello nice to meet you! What are your names?
Hi I’m Lisa, from East Germany.
And I’m Silvie. We’re from France
Silvie with the sunglasses, nice! If you’re happy can you tell me how old you are?
Silvie: We’re 55, 59 and 63. Pretty good man!
Dykes on bikes! What brings you to pride?
Poregie: To ride at the front of the parade. This is the first time the Dykes On Bikes have lead London pride. Everyone is going to be following on behind us.
So you are actually leading it? Incredible! So what makes you feel proud?
Sylvie: I’m proud to be out and about and loud and proud.
Poregie: To ride our bikes without prejudice or judgment. With freedom for love and respect.
Can you describe to me your aesthetic, if you could put it in so many words?
Silvie: We are butch bikers.
Poregie: Comfortable but smart. With elastic trousers.
Did you dye your hair especially for the parade?
Poregie: To show my colours, yes!
If it's OK with you, could you tell me how old you are and how you identify?
I’m 20 and I’m gay, I’m bi, I’m queer.
And where do you live?
I am from Cornwall.
What made you travel the distance to come here today?
I came last year, I really enjoyed it. It is really nice to see the whole community here, plus it’s a great opportunity to catch up with friends. It’s just a really nice time.
You guys definitely look like you’re having fun. Do you feel proud to be here?
Yes. For me personally, I think as I’ve opened up about myself and found myself within this community, I’ve grown as a person. I like who I am! I like how I treat others, and how others in this community have treated me since I’ve embraced who I am.
That’s beautiful to hear. And your look today is beautiful too. Can you describe your aesthetic?
Rainbow everything! Rainbow cape, rainbow shoes, rainbow lip, all rainbow make-up. And when I get overheated, the shirt will come off!
Why are you here today?
Well, it’s our day today. It belongs to the LGBTQ+ people, and I am here to support everyone, not just those who are transgender, but everyone.
Amazing. What makes you feel proud?
Well, I'm proud now because time has gone by very well for us. People are more accepting now, that is something to be proud of.
That is something for us all to be proud of. How does beauty play into that? What does beauty mean in this community?
Beauty means… it’s not just the outer beauty in this community, it’s about the inner beauty too. It's about finding that and accepting that.
Can you describe your beauty look for me?
Well, I went for more pink today. Pink eye shadow, pink dress. I wanted everything to match. I actually have high heels in my bag, but I couldn’t walk on them so well, so yeah, I’ll put them on later.
Would you say being able to use make-up is important for you?
Yeah, it is. Definitely, it is very important. I see it as an art. It's about expressing yourself with make-up.
Hi there, Billie?
Yes, that’s right, Billie with an ‘I E’.
Are you happy to tell me how old you are and how you identify?
Well, let's just say I’m a pensioner. That’s as far as we go! But I had a big one last week you see...
Billie with an IE, if you had a big one last week, you’re certainly looking good on it. Can you describe your beauty look today?
I’m doing the Queen Elizabeth the Second. I’ve been over in America, doing the New York Pride. I was trying to reclaim America for the UK, but it didn’t work, I tried! I’m still suffering from jet lag, but I am here today and the weather is better than New York today, over there it was high humidity. I have travelled down from Carlyle. Actually, I don’t know how many years I’ve been doing Pride now. But this is definitely one of the best ones. It’s fabulous, I can tell we are all going to enjoy it.
A veteran! It’s certainly turning out to be a good day so far. Has your beauty look changed over the years?
Yes, I’ve got all the crowns. The St Edwards tiara, the imperial crown, George 4th tiara, the Vladimir tiara. This one I’ve got on today is the ‘Roses of Great Britain’ tiara. I’ve combined this with the Queen Victoria necklace and earrings, and the actual coronation ring. It’s all very accurate.
Where are you from Josh?
I am from Portsmouth in the South of England but I live here in London.
What makes you proud to be here at Pride today?
I am proud of all the diversity and the pure liberation to just be yourself.
Can you describe for me your beauty look?
So, it all started with these trousers which I found on Asos, and then the whole look was built around it. I’ve gone for mermaid, for merman.
All these rainbows around us – what does the rainbow mean to you?
The rainbow for me is inclusivity, happiness, and positivity.
How about beauty?
Beauty for me is armour which you can use to build your personality around. But that is no bad thing.
Hi Joey. How old are you?
I am 29.
Do you feel comfortable to tell me how you identify?
I am a gay cis man.
Whereabouts have you come from today?
I live in Hackney but I am originally from Southend on Sea, Essex.
And what brings you to central London today?
I am here to party! My day job is working on LGBTQ+ rights so I know there is so much more to do. It's great on days like this to have a bit of party and celebrate everything we’ve done, but also to keep in mind that there is still so much more that needs to be done for people around the world as well as in the UK for LGBTQ+ people.
It sounds like it’s more than just an excuse to party for you. What makes you proud?
I am most proud of my friends who are marching today. For everything they do, from working with charities to going along to sports clubs and being themselves as LGBTQ+ people in that space they will bring more LGBTQ+ people in and be role models for them.
Can you tell me a little about your aesthetic today?
Yep, my best feature is my mid-drift, so that is why I will always wear a crop top. And I’ve got pretty nice legs so I’ve got short shorts. I really love Disney as well, so that's why I've got the Mickey Mouse ears.
Looking fabulous. And what does beauty mean in the LGBTQ+ community?
It's a chance... in a world where still so many people are attacked for who they are. Beauty gives you the chance to forget about the hate, slap on the make-up and be whoever you want to be.
Jonathan and Will
What are your names?
My name is Jonathan and I am from Jersey, wheeey!
And I’m Will from Lincoln.
Lovely, thank you! How do you both identify, if you’re good to answer that question
Jonathan: I'm a totally gay man, (pointing to Will) he’s bisexual. My boyfriend's pretty gay too!
Why are you here today at Pride?
Will: To celebrate 50 years of achievement. And enjoy ourselves, and be nice and kiss people and generally be friendly and share the love.
What makes you proud?
Jonathan: Um, being able to do this, we’ve not always been able to. I’m 56, he’s 66, we’ve not always been able to do this. To be able to celebrate diversity and sexuality is the main thing. This is how gay Pride is morphing.
Do you mind describing this fabulous look for me?
Jonathan: Pink camouflage kilts, sparkling sequin hats, quite a lot of glitter. I have a blue moustache, blue eyebrows.
Where did the inspiration come from?
Jonathan: We’ve been doing this every year. It’s the same!
The same thing every year?
Jonathan: These outfits... our friends is a curtain maker, and she made five of them, and they kind of stand out don’t they? Sometimes I think ‘what am I going to wear for Pride this year?’ And then we think, 'yeah - it's got to be the camouflage skirts again!'
Hello, what is your name?
Mustafah! Like Mufasah, but with a T!
How old are you Mustafah?
I am 23, 24 in like 6 days, woo!
Woo! Are you from London?
You mean originally born? No, I live in north London but I was born in Russia, believe it or not.
Do you feel OK to tell me how you identify?
I identify as a gay male.
What brings you here today to Pride?
Inclusivity! I work with a charity, and I can’t wait to see them, I love them so much. I cannot wait to see them, they are coming up!
Are they coming up soon? Who are they?
Yes! Mosaic LGBTQ+ youth network.
OK, I won’t keep you long, but what does Pride mean to you?
To be around all the inclusivity. To be around all the bright faces, I love it so much. I’ve been working with the charity for two years now. They bring in so much joy and so much greatness for young people and they do so much good work. I thought I definitely wanted to come down and show my support for them.
They are lucky to have you. Can you tell me a bit about your beauty look?
This face is my regular look, it takes me an hour and 10 minutes to do. I do it every day and today I just added some fun little extra gems to it.
It looks amazing, enjoy your Pride!