This year’s Pride in London theme is #LoveHappensHere, so we found a bona fide couple from London’s gay scene and took them to the epicentre of Pride’s festivities on the day itself, Trafalgar Square, for a public display of their love. Here, Joseph Williams and Eric Anllo Muñiz explain why Pride in 2017 is as important as ever.
Hi Joseph, Eric. So when did you guys meet?
J: Almost exactly three years ago.
And how did you meet?
J: Over the bar at the Admiral Duncan, where he worked.
And Eric, you served him?
J: I actually refused to order from him because I fancied him a lot.
Because you were shy?
J: A shying wallflower.
But eventually you did speak?
And what was your first date like?
E: It was at the Admiral Duncan karaoke.
J: And it was really weird. I was like ‘Why would you ever invite someone to a date for karaoke when neither of you are drunk?’ But then he tried to wink at me, and he can’t wink, so he sort of blinked, and at that point I actually fell in love with him a little bit. And so we decided to go on a second date, which did involve lots of alcohol and was actually more smoother, let’s say.
And how have you spent Prides in past years?
E: I’ve been working behind the bar from 8am until midnight. And during my break I walk from the Admiral Duncan to Ku Bar, get a drink and then rush back to the Admiral, because it is impossible to walk back in time because of the crowds.
J: I’ve been working as well for the last five Prides. I used to run the street licensing. I ran the liaison team from 5am until 10pm, making sure at ground level everyone was compliant. Because Pride holds the licence on the day, and I don’t think anyone really appreciates that. They are held accountable, so I was the top of that tree for the last five years. So this year is the first time we’ll both actually get to enjoy Pride.
J: Yes, a civilian Pride.
What have you got planned for your first Pride together?
E: Well I think I have to work again, but in my other job, which doesn’t involve Pride. But hopefully we’ll finish at a decent time and we’ll maybe go to a house party.
J: I’m doing a small brunch for friends and then heading down to the Parade. I do love the Parade. I think it’s the most fun part of Pride because once you get past all the corporate nonsense you see a real cross-section of the amazing work being done by so many groups among our community, and that’s really special.
Why is Pride important to you?
J: Pride was born out of a need to fight to exist without persecution. And in these troubled times, with intersectional tensions being at an all-time high, persecution is being empowered again, so Pride is actually more important than it has been for the last 15 years or so, because we have a fight on our hands again. We are fighting to ensure that we are seen as equal, and furthermore from this country, it sends a beacon of acceptance to all the countries where our rights are being repealed and cancelled.
Where are you from originally, Eric?
E: I am from Spain and there being gay is totally fine; I’ve never had an issue about being gay. I’ve been supported by my family and friends for my whole life. But we travel a lot and I’ve been to countries like Iran where admitting you’re gay could probably get you executed.
J: In India it’s been recriminalised…
E: I would like to travel without hiding part of who I am.
And we’ve seen in the last few years how Pride has been cancelled in Istanbul.
J: Yeah, so it’s regressed in Turkey, it’s regressed in India…
And there are serious problems in Chechnya…
J: And that’s unfortunately the world we’re living in. With the rise of this alt-right movement and populism, with people exploiting fear for the sake of deepening community divides, and we’re at the front of the firing line, because we’ve been fighting for women’s rights for 150 years, we’ve been fighting ethnic minority rights for 80 years, we’ve been fighting for LGBT rights for 50 years. So if you’re going to start regressing to maintain – let’s call it what it is: the pale, stale, frail, male supremacy, we’re the first ones on the chopping block, which is why we need to stand up more now.
Pride in London’s theme this year is #LoveHappensHere. There’s been a lot of hate of all types in the news recently, but there is still love in the world. What does love mean to you in London?
J: There’s a spirit in places like London, New York, Barcelona, Tel Aviv; there’s a temperament to fight to want to include and to better the hate. And #LoveHappensHere is probably more so relevant in London because next to our brothers and sisters in New York I don’t think anyone’s been pushing as far for equality as we have.
And finally, why should Boyz readers make the effort to come out onto the streets for Pride in London this year?
E: Why not?
J: Exactly. Why would you miss the opportunity to really feel part of something that is so much bigger than yourself? Because Pride truly is one of the best events you’ll go to in London.