I sit here thinking what a wonderful event London Pride has been this year, with the Proud Hornets taking part in our second London Pride and I am now getting withdrawal symptoms, as I didn’t want it to end.
It’s amazing when you think back at what goes into organising such events, with over 1.5 million attending and according to the BBC, the march featured more than 30,000 people from over 600 different groups, The Proud Hornets of which I am a member, we had 31 members of across different age ranges and after this weekend’s events, the number of followers on both social media (over 1000) and the groups members we have is growing quickly and considering we have been going less than three years, I think is a fantastic achievement!
Back to the event itself, planning for such an event takes time and agreement from various parties and I would personally like to thank all (sorry if this sounds like an Oscar speech), Peter Wilton, Watford Football Club, Harry the Hornet, Alan Day VW of Watford (providing the float), A&F Scaffolding, Anwar Uddin from the The Football Supporters’ Association for the t-shirts, Roy Moore from the 1881 Movement for his help with the banners, and of course members of Proud Hornets that dressed the float. I apologise now if I have forgotten anyone.
To me the event started the day before down at the Vic, though Peter Wilton would say it was weeks and months before that!. We thought let’s be organised and assemble the float the day before. It was touch and go, as we didn’t know we had the scaffolding until two days before, otherwise it would have been back to the caveman era style of a wood structure. Then wondering, how are we going to collect the Scaffolding, it was a logistical nightmare and I was thinking to myself, well if all those years ago society managed to move stones from South Wales to Stonehenge, then we can find a way to collect a few poles, nuts and bolts. Eventually, we managed to get hold of the poles and the building structure could commence.
It initially did look like a meccano set, but once in our minds we started to try out where different flags could go, I just knew that Saturday will be a day to remember. I started to feel the buzz already, Harry the Hornet had arrived to buzz around the vehicle to agree the times to meet up the next day. We agreed the times and I could start to make my way into London.
Even though I live locally, I thought I would treat myself to staying in London. After I booked myself into the Hotel, I could feel the party atmosphere was already underway, with rainbow flags being displayed by various organisations as I walked along Tottenham Court Road. I walked into Soho got my usual beverage, before three lovely guys from Belfast took me under their wing: Martyn, Tony and Paul. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. A few drinks were had, including visiting the usual bars in Soho and then waking up at 2.30 in the morning and checking if everything was in tack (phew it was).
We all agreed (apart from the float) to meet in the Metropolitan Bar in Baker Street so that ‘Proud Hornets T-Shirts’ can be distributed. The pub had a real buzz about the place as West Ham, Arsenal Fans mingled and gave each other some football banter. What amused me as well, if we can behave well like this, why not society as a whole?
We then walked down to Great Portland Street to get in our area where our float would join us. As we were walking with wristbands displayed to be allowed in and had to go looking for the letters of the alphabet to find letter E, where we were to wait near our vehicle. There it was our colours Red Yellow and Black, don’t you just love Watford. Sarah Priestly had also done a fantastic job in decorating the vehicle.
There were rumours in terms of where we would be positioned, but you don’t want to say anything otherwise you could have ‘egg on your face’. We were the leading pack of the football teams, in front of Chelsea and Crystal Palace. If there is a God, please let us be in front of these two teams come May 2020 (well I can dream).
As we waited for the off (sounds like a horse race), we talked and laughed with other groups and the usual banter was had. All very good natured. Pictures were taken including with other mascots:
To me at London Pride I just felt at home and relaxed. It did also bring home to me how lucky I am as a gay man (and despite our problems in the UK, including that there is still some way to go) that we are able to express ourselves compared to other countries. I hope in the not too distant future, all football clubs will be able to have a professional gay football player on their books and that they will be able to walk with us with Pride and be Proud of who they are, and what they have achieved in life. They will certainly have a few Clubs who will welcome them with open arms Proud Hornets being one of them.
We were off, the whistles started, the music was playing from other floats, people were clapping and cheering and that was before we actually got to the official starting line. As we approach the starting line, the various hosts calling out ‘Welcome to the Proud Hornets’. The walk started off slow and that gave opportunity to talk to friends in the crowds who came to see some of their friends.
Harry the Hornet was his usual self, dancing and buzzing on the float, taking pictures with the public. It really did feel like a family day out.
As we continued to walk it was brilliant to hear chants of Watford and we bumped into Andy Lewers of HornetsNest taking pictures of us as well as others and even strangers from the media coming up to me congratulating us of what we have achieved as a Group and as a club. When we got to Piccadilly circus I have never seen so many people crammed there and making so much noise……what a party!. I just felt I belong here.
Finally as we got to just past Trafalgar square, I could see the end of the walk with a slight element of disappointment as in some ways I wanted the walk to continue, but the buzz of the place and the beer was calling. The party wasn’t over it had only just begun. We decided to meet up in the Ship and Shovell (I had to be careful how I typed the first word here….it could have been embarrassing), to have a deserved drink and let the evening take its course in the wonderful city that is London. I can’t wait till the next one.
Proud Hornets will be participating in Herts Pride on Saturday 31st August 2019. It would be good to see you there. Let us know via the usual Social Media outlets:…..