Last Saturday saw the second year of Peckham Pride; marching through south London in a show of solidarity between the LGBT community and migrants. Ida-Sofie Picard, an organiser for Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, writes on the politics of Pride, solidarity, and the importance of celebrating histories of resistance for struggle today.
February the 18th saw hundreds of people march through Peckham in a show of solidarity with migrant communities targeted by racist immigration raids, and in celebration of those resisting raids and fighting back against oppression and scapegoating.
Peckham Pride was organised jointly by Movement for Justice (MfJ) and Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSMigrants) for the first time last year. This year, Sisters Uncut South East London were also part of the planning and running of the protest march, and subsequent afternoon of performances, music and dancing.
The idea behind Peckham Pride was to use the format of a Pride parade to establish a clear statement of solidarity between queer and migrant communities; to stand uncompromisingly against the racist attacks on migrant communities in the UK through immigration raids, detention and deportation and to celebrate the strength of our communities when we resist oppression. On the day, we marched down Rye Lane, shutting the road down to hear from local people as well as Movement for Justice organisers and members, celebrating their resistance against immigration raids and how they have organised inside detention centres such as Yarl’s Wood to stop the forced deportation of fellow detainees. Afterwards, we held an after-party at the Copeland Gallery with 6 hours of music, entertainment and performances.
For us in LGSMigrants, Peckham Pride is about using the strength of the queer community and an understanding of our history of struggle to fight back in support of those at the sharpest end of government oppression today. It’s not long ago that queer people were the “illegals” and queer pubs and bars were being raided. Now it is the businesses of migrants. The constant invocation of “British values”, depicting “others” as a threat to society, and conflating hard-won rights and freedoms with the rule of law is a clear attempt to cynically divide us, evident, for example, in the blatant Islamophobia of the Prevent agenda. Understanding how the arbitrary scapegoating of communities serves the interests of the ruling class, and how the law serves as a repressive instrument of capital, declaring different groups ‘illegal’ at different times, allows us to see through attempts at pitting the oppressed and exploited against each other.
There is a rhetoric that constructs migrants as a threat to queer people, and tries to use the supposed homophobia of migrants to justify the UK’s inhumane immigration regime. Peckham Pride is also about this, about showing that we can come together, that we can fight together and that we recognise that when one marginalised group becomes a target, it is a risk to all of us.