Over the last five years, homophobic hate crimes in the UK have almost trebled and transphobic hate crimes quadrupled. This summer, Liverpool witnessed a string of attacks targeting LGBTQ people – one in which a victim’s leg was left fractured – and in London, a man has been arrested after a suspected homophobic murder. At a time when queer people have more rights on paper than at any other time in British history, including the right to marry, it seems as if bigots are attempting to roll the clock back further than ever.
Night Pride is determined not the let that happen. On Saturday, around 150 people marched up Kingsland Road in Dalston, London to protest the rise in violence against the LGBTQ community. Passing drivers beeped their car horns as marchers waved signs that read “Queers won’t be quiet” and “The night belongs to lovers”.
The London event was one of two demonstrations happening in the UK, with a sister event taking place on the same weekend. Organisers described the protests as “not a demand for equality”, “not a demand for better policing” and “not a demand for mere tolerance and acceptance. We are revolting, and we will have true liberation!”
VICE photographer Bex Wade spoke to some attendees to find out about what the march means to them.
Naya Thorn: "The attacks never stop, it’s just that the media coverage has been and gone."
Naya Thorn, 19, drag queen
“I am here following my involvement in the organisation of the recent Liverpool protest against LGBTQI+ hate crimes. We organised it in response to the rise in hate crimes in Liverpool. At the time that we organised it there had been five attacks in that past week, a lot of people who’d been attacked I had known personally.
“I’m here tonight to keep talking about the fact that the attacks still are happening. Even though that protest happened, the attacks never stop, it’s just that the media coverage has been and gone. We need more events like this tonight and all of this just shows that it’s happening on a national scale, an international scale and it needs to stop.”
Stacy Martin: "I’m sick of the hate, to be quite frank."
Stacy Martin, 33, partnership manager for UK Black Pride
“I’m here today because I’m sick of the hate, to be quite frank. I’m here to make a stand against what is still going on; the hate towards us and the fact that we’re not equal. I don’t think people are as aware of the hate crimes that are happening. Especially over the last year these cases have gone up 20 percent and mostly against marginalised communities, towards Black people and towards people of colour. I definitely don’t think people are aware that this is still going on in terms of hatred in speech, hatred in physical violence and murder.”
Ian Johns: "Nobody should be ashamed of who they are."
Ian Johns, 64, Gay Liberation Front activist and vintage store owner
“I’m here tonight because of the rise in homophobic attacks that have been taking place against our community, and we’re just not going to tolerate it. I’m here to represent the Gay Liberation Front. We demand the right to be able to walk the streets, dressed as we wish to dress, without being harassed or attacked verbally or abused in any way whatsoever. Nobody should be ashamed of who they are and we will not tolerate attacks or intimidation of any kind.
“I really think something like tonight is going back to the root of what Pride should be. We’ve just turned up, we don’t need any corporate sponsorship and we just do it ourselves which is, for example, what the original GLF model was. You don’t need all this crap to organise a Pride, you don’t need to pay directors a massive amount of money and give hardly any money back to charity, which is the way it seems to be going these days.”
Craig Mantanona: "I think that we’ve become complacent."
Craig Mantanona, 39, PhD graduate
“I’m here to support this protest. Hate crimes, they haven’t disappeared. It’s amazing, things are good, we’re comfortable, we live in a city like London where I can walk down the street holding my boyfriend’s hand; but at the same time maybe I’m lucky. There’s a lot of violence that still occurs towards our community across this country and I think that we’ve become complacent. It’s good that we are on the streets here now, to basically bring attention to this and show that this complacency needs to stop. A lot of us are lucky now, but a lot of us aren’t. I guess that’s why I’m here.”
Auntie Maureen: "I want to be safe wherever I go."
Auntie Maureen, 53, DJ
“I’m here because I’m queer and I want to be safe wherever I go, and often I don’t feel safe. I don’t know if we will set the wheels in motion to make that change tonight, but I at the least need to be connected with other people by walking the streets and being present.”
Mia Kelly (left) and Naomi Gabriel (right).
Mia Kelly, 29, teaching assistant
“I’ve come here tonight to show support for anyone who’s been a victim of hate crime and to show that we’re all going to stand united as a united front against any kind of hate crime against LGBTQ people and people of colour. I definitely think more events like this are needed, especially when the main Pride is cancelled. I know quite a few people who for the first time wanted to go to regular Pride this year and now they feel like they can’t, but by events like this happening could bring people closer and give them more opportunities to speak out and feel like they’re seen in their community a bit better.”
Naomi Gabriel, 30, software developer
“I’m here to support the movement of anti-hate crimes, anti-LGBT crimes, standing together with our community and fighting back.”
Jamie Chi: "Our queer Asian community are experiencing double marginalisation."
Jamie Chi, 31, filmmaker
“I’m here tonight because I’d like to raise people’s awareness of the hate crime against Asians. During these two years of the COVID pandemic there has been a 300 percent increase in hate crime towards Asians in the UK. Our queer Asian community are experiencing double marginalisation and that’s why I think it’s very important to also bring this up. I have friends who have been physically attacked on the streets in London. It is so important for these people to find support.”