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‘Don’t rain on my parade’: London’s 24th annual Pride parade marches on

The parade enters into its final stretch on Wellington Street, just east of Victoria Park.
The parade enters into its final stretch on Wellington Street, just east of Victoria Park. Andrew Graham / 980 CFPL

On Sunday afternoon, rain fell from the skies and rainbows flooded the streets.

Despite a severe thunderstorm warning that came and went, the 24th annual London Pride Parade marched on.

READ MORE: London Pride Festival to close with three days of Pride-filled entertainment

“Rain or shine, we always say as gays, ‘don’t rain on my parade’,” said Caleb, a Londoner spending his second year at the Pride parade.

Even amid anti-Pride protesters, the parade stayed peaceful and Caleb’s spirits remained high throughout Sunday’s event.

“The protesters just really remind us of why we’re here and what we’re doing,” Caleb said. “To prove to the world and to prove to ourselves that we are proud to be who we are.”

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Caleb (left) is joined by his friends Brent and David during the 24th annual London Pride Parade.
Caleb (left) is joined by his friends Brent and David during the 24th annual London Pride Parade. Andrew Graham / 980 CFPL

People of all stripes enjoyed the parade as a bastion of inclusion, acceptance and love.

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“Pride is me being able to be queer, non-binary… and celebrate being two-spirited,” said Robin Henry, a Londoner who’s excited to see Pride continue to include different populations, such as members of Indigenous communities as well as those who identify as two-spirited.

READ MORE: Halifax Pride wraps up 2018 event with annual Dykes vs. Divas softball game

“I love that every type of people can come out, they’re not worried about labels,” added Roxy Rhymes, a drag queen who performs in London and surrounding cities.

“I love that people just want to celebrate happiness.”

For Tom Doyle, the parade was an opportunity to send a valuable message to his young niece.

“It’s important for us to come down with her, to get a look and make sure she knows about everybody here,” Doyle said.

Tom Doyle (middle) poses with a friend and his niece, Kristen.
Tom Doyle (middle) poses with a friend and his niece, Kristen. Andrew Graham / 980 CFPL
London drag queen Roxy Rhymes (right) poses with a pair of friends.
London drag queen Roxy Rhymes (right) poses with a pair of friends. Andrew Graham / 980 CFPL
Robin Henry, a Londoner who identifies as two-spirit.
Robin Henry, a Londoner who identifies as two-spirit. Andrew Graham / 980 CFPL
The 501st Canadian Garrison travelled from a galaxy far, far away to attend London's parade.
The 501st Canadian Garrison travelled from a galaxy far, far away to attend London's parade. Andrew Graham / 980 CFPL

Thousands of people showed up for Pride London Festival’s largest parade ever.

“Our biggest parade we ever had was about 120 entries,” said Andrew Rosser, president for Pride London Festival.

“I know we were well over 135 [on Sunday] and probably even more than that.”

“We’ve come a long way from asking to people to participate.”

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A notable difference for 2018’s parade was the lack of uniformed London police officers, who instead marched in pink shirts emblazoned with a rainbow-coloured badge.

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In April, it was announced that officers would not be allowed to participate in the parade unless they ditched their uniforms and marked police cruisers, a decision that was made in order to make members of the Indigenous community and people of colour feel at ease during the parade.

“What’s great is the police are committed to working with us,” said Rosser. “When we said, ‘we want don’t uniforms until things are better with communities’… they listened.”

READ MORE: Decision to keep uniformed officers out of London Pride parade ’empowering’: police board

The parade dispersed into Victoria Park and festivities continued with the 7th annual Pride in the Park.

After 11 pride-fuelled days, Pride London Festival has drawn to end.

The festival’s official closing party was hosted on Sunday evening by Lavish Nightclub.