This year’s Pride in London parade (2018) was ‘hijacked’ by a lesbian activist group called ‘Get the L Out.‘
I was on the tube on my way to Pride when my phone buzzed.
“OMG have you seen this? Are you there?”
I clicked on the link Emma had sent me.
Hijack? Anti-trans group? What had been going on while I obliviously consumed a lemon muffin and a 3 shot Americano in Starbucks? I flipped through the article to read that a group of women ‘seeking to exclude trans people’ had hijacked the front of the Pride march and were parading with ‘anti-trans slogans’. Was this more hyperbole from Pink ‘Penis’ News?
The tube went into a tunnel and I lost my reception.
Arriving at Charing Cross, I negotiated the hordes of rainbow-garbed youngsters walking backwards with their phones in the air or sitting on the pavement rolling joints, and skipped nimbly over the discarded beer bottles and coke cans. The atmosphere was still charged with energy; outlandishly dressed people laughing and dancing & uploading pictures to Instagram. There were more rainbow flags than ever. MacDonalds, that staunch supporter of all things revolutionary and cutting edge, had adorned its store front with a bunch of multi-coloured balloons & the guy who usually sells hoodies & sweatshirts at the edge of the square had added a string of rainbow merch to his bow. The obligatory adorable gay-ally dog trotted past me & I joined the queue to get into the central compound.
As a teenager I once joined a protest march against Barclays involvement in South Africa; a march ending in a rally at Trafalgar Square, where the name ‘Barclays’ was met with boos. Barclays has a new slogan now, crafted from the finest word salad: ‘diversity is important but inclusion is essential’. How times change: Barclays is now also a headline sponsor of Pride in London. I try not to be too cynical about the commercialism. Yay for democracy & all that. As one Twitter user put it
“I’m ok with it. I’ll rather have the commercial soft support than no support at all.”
But still. Pride sponsors. Barclays. Starbucks. Amazon. Nandos. Even Tesco, FFS.
I made it past security and offered a fiver donation for a ‘Pride’ tote goodie bag. Inside was a magazine, a couple of rainbow wristbands, a lot of flyers advertising holidays in Italy and an Oyster card holder with a picture of Jerusalem on it.
I spoke briefly to the Stonewall people who wouldn’t give me an ‘I rainbow-heart NY’ badge unless I signed up to go to NYC Pride. Or something like that. Maybe I got a bit confused. Perhaps it’s catching.
I grumble about commercialism and, of course, in the same breath I embrace it. After taking some photos, I found myself drawn into the ‘Gay Shop’ where I passed on the ‘pansexual’ beaded bracelet- no really, I’m fine- in favour of a bright blue water bottle. I bought Jessie & middle-child a T shirt each. They’d come up with friends in the morning and had ‘run out of money can you get us a T shirt please mum’. I nearly bought a ‘Pride’ Oyster Card holder but it was three quid. I paid with a Barclays bank card.
I managed to find a takeaway coffee and perched myself at the top of the steps, just as Courtney Act tottered onto the stage to tumultuous applause. I took a few photos of the crowd and a sip of coffee and sat down in a quiet corner to flip through my phone and see what was going on on Twitter…
… and there they were. The lesbian hijackers!
On 7/7/18 group of lesbians from ‘Get the L Out’ jumped into the London Pride parade, bearing banners, to protest against lesbian erasure.
I had arrived at Pride late, bought a couple of T shirts, whinged a bit about corporate sponsorship and taken some photos. These women had a plan. These women were there right at the start, banners ready, fearless and outspoken, to stand up for the rights of lesbians like my daughter. I wanted to hug them all. It’s on my bucket list to hug them all.
“Get the L Out’ is a group of lesbian and feminist individuals and organisations, opposing the increasingly anti-lesbian and misogynistic LGBT movement and the erasure of lesbians. We believe that lesbian rights are under attack by the trans movement and we encourage lesbians everywhere to leave the LGBT and form their own independent movement, as well as to be vocal and take action against the proposed changes to the GRA (Gender Recognition Act).”
They recorded a short video of their action, which you can see here.
The video, which begins just before the women leapt onto the Pride flag and began their protest, starts mid-conversation.
“… I think we’re going to get lost otherwise.”
“Yes, I think so too, I think we should do it now. Come on!”
The women run forward, chanting and shouting slogans.
“Come on, you’ve had your moment,” says one organiser briskly, trying to get them to move off the flag, but the women aren’t budging until they’re ready.
Ten minutes or so into the parade they lie down in the road and start chanting, ‘Get the L out of Pride’.
‘They’re losing our respect,’ one beardy bloke told a journalist, seemingly unaware that it was unlikely that a group of lesbians would be overly preoccupied with gaining his respect.
It’s a hot, hot day and the sun is beating down overhead.
“I should’ve put some sunscreen on,” one protestor says to another, and they laugh.
An organiser approaches them.
“We don’t mind you being here, we appreciate it, but maybe just advance a little bit, just so we can gradually move on.”
The women move on. En route, one hands her phone to some young women at the side of the march. “You want to know what sort of messages we get online just for being a lesbian?” she asks. “It’s just here.”
“That’s so bad.”
Later I watched a video that had been live streamed by a Pink News journalist. He scuttled down the parade route ahead of the protestors, somewhat like a disorientated and quivering squirrel, repeating over and over again the phrases, “Anti-trans campaigners… what has it come to, Pride in London?… Sadiq Khan was meant to be leading the parade… More as it comes….”
In the course of the video he describes the protestors as:
“A group of radical feminist campaigners who are opposed to transgender rights… the group who were protesting against transgender rights… a group campaigning against transgender rights… a group of radical feminists who appear to have issues with transgender people… carrying signs opposing transgender rights.. the anti-transgender campaigners… a group who clearly upset many people… distributing these leaflets which are vile… anti transgender rights campaigners…
He mentions the word ‘lesbian’ only once, when he scathingly refers to the protestors as ‘a group of women who describe themselves as lesbians.”
“Do you disagree with transgender people being here?” he asks one.
“No, absolutely not,” she replies. “Absolutely not. But I do disagree with men saying they’re women and that they’re lesbians.”
“Get the L out of Pride!” chant the women behind her. “Get Lesbians out of Pride! Stop lesbian erasure! No man is a lesbian! Lesbian, not queer!”
Pink News Journalist asks another of the women why she is there and suggests that the sign she is carrying means she has “issues with transgender people”.
“I don’t have issues with transgender people.”
She tells him she is protesting, “because I feel that lesbians are no longer represented by LGBT organisations…. I’m carrying this sign,” gesturing towards her banner, which reads ‘LESBIAN = FEMALE HOMOSEXUAL’. “This is a positive sign.” she adds, firmly.
PNJ takes one of the leaflets and reads part of it out to his audience. He then continues to refer to it, and the protesting lesbians, as ‘opposing transgender rights’.
Later, PNJ asks another of the women what the protestors want, and if it has anything to do with the Gender Recognition Act.
“To get the L out of Pride.” she replies. “Lesbians are lesbians. A man cannot be a lesbian; a person with a penis cannot be a lesbian.”
“Is this to do with changes to the Gender Recognition Act?” he enquires.
“It certainly is, we need a proper, open debate and we’re sick of trans-activists preventing that with violence, intimidation and threats…
A man who alters his body is a man who alters his body. He is entitled to the same respect as everybody else. He is not a woman and should not be in a woman’s space…
The sex that you’re born, unfortunately, is the sex that you will remain. When archaeologists dig you up in 1000 years time they will look at the chromosomal evidence. Your external organs will have faded away…”
“Have you tested your own chromosomes?” asks the journalist, bizarrely. When she replies no, he goads, “But you believe you’re a woman; you believe sex is defined by it, so how do you have that belief?”
The woman looked somewhat astonished but was polite enough not to laugh in his face.
“Look at me. No one has ever questioned that I’m a woman… Read Cordelia Fine. The Royal Society gave her a prize for a reason.”
“That’s interesting,” he replies, in much the tone I would adopt if smallest brought me yet another kitten house sculpted from cereal packets, poster paints and toilet rolls.
“I think there’s a lot of sympathy in the crowd,” she continues. “We are getting a lot of cheers. A lot of lesbians feel the same as us but people are scared to speak out because of all the violence and all the threats. I’ve had death threats, I’ve moved house; people are doxxed. Maria MacLachlan was beaten and the guy pretty much got away with it. There’s a lot of intimidation going on and people know that.”
The journalist turns to another woman and asks her to tell listeners about the reason behind the protest.
“Pride is not representing lesbians at all, and we feel that we have been erased, and that is why we are here basically…
because men are saying they are trans, they are lesbians and are pressurising the lesbian community to actually sleep with them…
we are pressured online, we’ve been called TERFs; there are lots of women who wanted to take part in Pride and they were frightened to come because of this, because of the hostility against lesbians.”
This is the A5 double-sided leaflet that ‘Get the L Out’ handed out to the crowds lining the parade route.
PNJ suggested that the when the crowd cheered the women it was because they didn’t understand the message. He suggested the crowd were cheering the empty space immediately behind the protestors rather than the protestors themselves. He then claimed that the cheers following the women must be sarcastic. At one point he referred to loud cheers as ‘a smattering of applause’.
“The message is going down in a mixed way,” said Pink News Journalist. “I’m not sure people understand what their message is.”
The one thing we can be sure of is that PNJ didn’t like it one little bit.
“The crowd earlier were chanting shame,” he reminded his viewers.
“‘They seem pretty pleased with themselves. They have spoiled the Pride march!” he complained at one point, only to follow it up a few minutes later with, “The group appears to be here to provoke some sort of reaction but really they failed. There doesn’t seem to be much of a reaction at all.”
Oh the confusion! Even now, a few days later, critics of the protest seem confused. On the one hand the protest was a minor disruption by ‘only eight or ten’ women’, but on the other hand it’s a huge display of hatred that left many ‘feeling unsafe’.
Which is it to be?
If, like me, you aren’t seeing any actual ‘hatred’ in the words or banners of these women, the first important question has to be,
‘does pro-lesbian now automatically mean ‘anti-trans?‘
This seems to be what the mainstream media believes; what the Mayor of London believes; what Stonewall, Pride London and Pink News believe.
This is not about hatred, at least not about hatred coming from lesbians and feminists.
The second question we need to consider is,
‘Is lesbian erasure now a trans right’?
I have honestly never heard anyone say ‘I hate trans people’. Believing that it is not possible to be born in the ‘wrong’ body is not hateful and erases no-one. We all have a right to our religious and spiritual beliefs, and if you want to believe that souls are gendered and that we have pink and blue brains; if you want to worship at the altar of the gender fairy, then go for it. Nobody can tell you what to believe. Your beliefs are your own business. It’s when you start demanding that everyone around you agrees with you and that if they don’t share your ideology then they must be evil people who hate you and wish you ill; that they must be silenced – well, that roar is the sound of transactivism rearing its tyrannical, despotic head.
The ideology of transactivism purports that a man who believes he is a woman, is a woman.
An astonishing number of people are willing to say this.
Transactivism also purports that a woman who believes she is a man is actually a man, but nobody pays much attention to that, because… misogyny. The women who think they’re men aren’t shouting that gay men should have sex with them, and gay men aren’t feeling they have to hijack marches to make people listen to how threatened and angry this makes them feel because a) Biology and b) Patriarchy.
A good trans-ally is expected to support the idea that a man who believes himself to be a woman has the heart and soul of a woman. If a man ‘identifies as’ a woman, he actually IS a woman. And if he is a woman, so it follows that he has the right to be in spaces designated for women. Sports teams, changing rooms, bathrooms, women’s festivals specialising in workshops on vaginal steaming, women’s intimate waxing salons, women’s refuges, to name but a few such spaces around which controversy has recently risen.
If we accept that the group of men who call themselves transwomen ARE women, it follows that they can also ‘identify as’ lesbians. And if actual lesbians don’t like this – if they reject the idea of sex with these men purely on the grounds that they are… er… men, those women are automatically transphobic.
You see where this is leading?
A lesbian, attracted by very definition to other females, who points out that she doesn’t want to have sex with someone on the grounds that they are a man- any woman who points out that a person who has (or has ever had) a penis is not a lesbian- is transphobic.
Lesbianism is transphobic? WTF? No wonder lesbians are pissed off enough to take to the streets of Pride protesting about this. Their banners didn’t read, ‘We Hate Trans People’, they didn’t read, ‘Trans People are Dirty and Stupid‘, they didn’t read, ‘Trans people are second rate citizens’. Remember what they read?
“Lesbian = Female Homosexual”
“Transactivism erases Lesbians”
“Lesbian not Queer”
Where is the support for lesbians? Who in the LGBT movement is fighting for the right of lesbians to actually be lesbians? Who is standing up to those who insult, threaten and even strike these women? Well, not Stonewall, that’s for sure.
Stonewall’s Ruth Hunt released this
call to armsstatement shortly after Pride.
“The event was marred by a transphobic group… a transphobic group who are actively working against the community… distribut(ing) leaflets filled with myths and lies… not everyone was safe… hatred directed at trans people… these people have deserted the fight for LGBT equality, they have no place at Pride… Be an active, fierce ally.”
Over and again the lesbian protestors are referred to as ‘anti-transgender’: not just by Pink ‘Penis’ News, but by the Guardian; by the Independent.
The Independent refers to the women as ‘anti-trans protestors’.
Patrick Greenfield writes in The Guardian of “a group of about 10 women carrying anti-trans signs… anti-transgender campaigners… women carrying anti-trans signs…”.
He goes on to quote a Liberal Democrat LGBT chairperson who talks of “transphobic protestors… a betrayal of the thousands marching”.
Owl Fisher churns out a quick piece, in the same paper, calling the protestors “divisive, hateful and misguided.”
“There’s no pride in hatred,” he pontificates profoundly, adding, apparently with no trace of irony, “Trans women wanting to be accepted as women – some of whom are lesbians – does not erase anyone else. On the contrary, it enriches our community.”
Er… hang on… the claim that men can be lesbians doesn’t erase lesbians? Saying that penises are female doesn’t erase lesbians? Would permitting white people claim to be black, for example, ‘enrich’ the black community? Of course not. What planet is he on? Where is this ‘hate’? Just how does this work? How much doublespeak are we supposed to be able to swallow?
LGBT Labour said “these people should never be allowed to march at Pride again”.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said, ‘The vast majority of those present at yesterday’s march respected and embraced that and the Mayor condemns the tiny minority who did not. Transphobia is never acceptable.”
Viking FM DJ Alex went so far as to call the banners ‘hate crime and surely they will now all be arrested and charged?”
After initially claiming that ‘hot weather’ was their reason for not stopping the women, then acknowledging that the protestors hadn’t done anything illegal, Pride in London released a statement saying they would be ‘reviewing what happened with the Metropolitan police. They went on to call the protest
“shocking and disgusting…a level of bigotry, ignorance and hate that is unacceptable… we condemn it completely… we reject what this group stands for… we are shocked and appalled… some felt threatened by the protesters…”
So there you have it. PRIDE rejects lesbians who claim penises can’t be female. To say a man cannot be a lesbian is threatening and an act of hatred. Is it any wonder lesbians are wanting out from under the LGBT umbrella?
Not one review I have read in the mainstream press even acknowledges the issues these women were trying to raise awareness about. It was as if those speaking out to condemn the women had not even taken the time to read the writing on their signs, let alone think about the very real concerns expressed in their leaflets. Their action was doubleplusbad and even thinking about what it entailed could be dangerous and problematic.
It couldn’t be clearer that LGBT will not protect lesbians. This level of misogyny makes me scared & sad for young lesbians everywhere. Is it any wonder that so many lesbians want out?
Meanwhile, back at the parade, Pink News Journalist points at the protestors and shoves his microphone into the faces of two young women observing the parade.
‘‘This is a group of radical feminists who appear to have issues with transgender people.’ They have occupied the Pride march. They’re being allowed to lead it…”
He pauses and, when no response is forthcoming, asks them directly what they think.
“That’s ridiculous,” says one, smiling.
“That’s pretty shit,” grins the other.
“Organisers, police, nowhere to be seen!” he adds, inviting them to share his outrage. They nod blandly.
“I don’t know if either of you are trans,” he adds. “I see you’re wearing a trans wristband.”
“Yes,” says the girl wearing the band.
“Presumably this is not a great l message to send? They’re distributing these leaflets which are vile,” he says “I don’t know if I can say that and be impartial?”
The girl with the wristband shrugs and she and her friend look away. After a moment’s awkward silence, during which he realises he isn’t going to get the reaction he’d hoped for, he thanks them and moves on.
“Still distributing leaflets to the crowd,” he observes, his voice growing slightly higher at his inability to find anyone quite incensed as himself. “
What has it come to, London Pride?” he wails for the twentieth time.
Elsewhere, one of the women is speaking to other lesbians in the crowd, telling them she gets called a vagina fetishist or a transphobe online for saying she won’t sleep with people with penises.
“Do you think that’s normal?” she asks another lesbian.
“What, sleep with someone with a dick?” responds the other woman, taking the proffered leaflet. “Why would I? I’m a lesbian!”
“I’m really tired of this,” the protestor says, handing a leaflet to another couple. “Lesbians shouldn’t be shamed for loving women.”
“Fuck you, TERFs!” calls a man from the crowd.
This is what happens when we ignore the fact that Pride was started as a riot,’ says PNJ, meaninglessly, seemingly oblivious to the irony and forgetting that only minutes before he had bemoaned the lack of a police presence.
“Trans women started Pride! These people hate trans people! They’re ignoring the history that Pride is a protest started by trans people!” yells a bloke in a black net top with roses on it.
“These people are here to erase the history of Pride, to erase trans people! They don’t just hate trans people, they hate sex workers, they hate anyone who doesn’t fit into their oppressive ideology. They are just as bad as the Westboro Baptist Church & the bigots who come out here saying gay people are going to hell!”
PNJ is so happy to come across someone as incensed as himself that he overlooks the absurdity of the suggestion that lesbians would tell gay people they were hellbound, and bounds over to net-top to introduce himself.
“Oh, you’re Pink News!” coos net-top into the lens, as his friend flicks his hair back & grins at the camera, “They were taking photos of me… (he points at the protestors) I can guarantee you they’re going to try to go after me and attack me personally.” He taps his fingers on his chest. He sounds strangely happy at this unlikely prospect.
“They were trying to get cops to arrest my friend for no fucking reason… these people are absolute bigots, they’re the worst.”
“I fucking had a go at the TERFs! I had a go at the TERFs! The police are angry at me, fuck it, I don’t care!” boasted a green-haired bloke who sounded remarkably like Rik Mayal in The Young Ones.
“I’m angry that the first thing of Pride was the TERFs. Fuck them. The opening thing was ‘transactivism erases lesbians’? Fuck off with that! I almost got in trouble with the police but I don’t care, Pride is a riot! Why is this group opening, saying ‘you are not welcome at Pride trans people’? Don’t tell trans lesbians they’re not welcome at Pride!”
“The anti-transgender campaigners appear to have continued down the march, They’re no longer near… This is what Pride is all about, this is the real Pride!” exclaimed PNJ happily, as the charismatic, heterosexual Mayor of London pressed a button turning the advertising screen at Picadilly Circus into a giant rainbow.
And perhaps, in a time when the gay rights movement is willing to chuck lesbians under the wheels of the gender identity bus without a moment’s thought, perhaps it is.
The Lesbian Rights Alliance has written an open letter to Stonewall which collected 135 signatures in two days.
Open Letter to Stonewall
Dear Ruth Hunt
Remove the L from LGBT
We demand that Stonewall removes lesbians from the list of groups you claim to represent as a national LGBT organisation. Since its foundation, Stonewall has rarely represented our interests. Now, in your single-minded campaign to promote the trans political and ideological agenda, you not only fail to represent us, but you actually promote lesbian invisibility – and lesbian erasure.
Lesbians are biological women who are sexually attracted to, and have sexual and emotional relationships with other biological women, only. Being a lesbian is primarily about sexuality: it is a same-sex attraction. Stonewall no longer accepts this basic, socially-accepted definition of lesbians. In fact it defines homosexuality as ‘attraction to the same gender,’ not biological sex.
As a consequence you support the absurd idea that male-bodied persons can be lesbians, and you demand that they be accepted as such by actual lesbians. If we refuse to accept these men as lesbians you label us transphobes and “TERFs”, unleashing a torrent of hate speech upon us from your supporters.
The vast majority of biological males who self-identify as lesbians retain their penises. So Stonewall is not only promoting hate crime against lesbians, but imposing compulsory heterosexuality on lesbians.
Stonewall does not recognise or represent the many young women who reject conventional feminine stereotypes in appearance and sex roles, and who become lesbians at puberty. Instead you support the trans argument that many gender non-conforming lesbians must really be men, born with “male brains” in the “wrong body”.
This outdated definition of lesbians was first promoted by male sexologists at the end of the 19th century. It has now become the dominant narrative. In the absence of alternative information, young women are stigmatised and bullied into taking on a male identity, rather than being healthy young lesbians. As one young woman told the Lesbian Rights Alliance, ‘there was no one who looked like me or acted like me who I could turn to as a role model.’
In your support for trans ideology you are literally erasing young lesbians, telling them they must mutilate their own female bodies to impersonate men and appear to be heterosexual. In 2016- 2017 female adolescents comprised over 70% of young people seeking to transition at the Gender Identity Development clinics, the majority of whom are attracted to their own sex.
In your educational programmes for schools you claim to address homophobic bullying, but none of your school materials represent gender non-conforming young lesbians.
For the few lesbians who have managed to escape lesbian conversion to trans and joined LBGT groups at college or university, they are often told that they should not use the term ‘lesbian’ since it is too ‘exclusive’. Instead they must define themselves as ‘queer,’ which means in practice that they must be open to having sexual relationships with men.
You also misrepresent the suicide statistics, claiming that young, transgender people are the most likely to attempt suicide. This is untrue: in fact young lesbians are the group most likely to attempt suicide, which is unsurprising, since they have become the most stigmatised group out of all LGB people.
According to your website, Stonewall has an income of over £7 million in 2018. You also support numerous LGBT groups and LGBT youth groups around the country. Women-only and lesbian-only space is crucially important to lesbians in the development of our lesbian lives and lesbian community. Yet as far as we are aware you have not supported a single lesbian-only youth group, or supported lesbian-only groups of any kind.
It is clear that being ‘stronger together’ in Stonewall does not include lesbians. So we urge you to stop claiming to represent us and leave the L out.
The Lesbian Rights Alliance
Lesbians protest Pride: GetTheLOut:
Comments on the YouTube video:
Finally, a few Tweets
How appalling to suggest that Julia Long might be anti-trans just because she loves calling people “trannies” all the time. Curiously not in front of the media, though…
Articulates all I am thinking about this issue. Thank you. It’s really getting on my tits this emperors new clothes misogyny.
Thanks for writing. Of course the media is spinning what they did as evil. Misogyny and lesbophobia has never gone away. I am a young lesbians and I know so many who have left the queer community in the past few years and more are waking up every day. It will be a hard fight…as it always is for women…but women are strong and we will keep fighting :)!!
I doff my hat to the women who so articulately (see their interviews) hi-jacked Pride.
You know what? After everything I have read and observed regarding transgenderism, I AM anti-trans. There is nothing wrong with being against a bullshit idea that actually harms women, especially young women, especially young lesbians.
Pingback: Sisters Rise ! – Get The L Out
So, not okay to wear pink knitted hats because those are like vaginas and aren’t inclusive, but okay to brandish a baseball bat.
I don’t understand much about the LGBT community because it’s honestly quite confusing to me, but I’m transgender MTF and a lesbian.. Reading about this event worries me. I may just be misunderstanding and they’re not saying that lesbian trans women are invalid. I know that there are those who lie about being transgender, but waking up and wanting to rip the skin from your body because it’s just all wrong is not what a happy life contains. I don’t know if any of this makes sense, but I wanted to give my thoughts as a young transgender lesbian. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that people who are truly transgender depend on the rest of the LGBT community and allies. If the one community we feel at home in—living in a world that doesn’t understand us—turns on the trans community, there could be dire consequences for future transgender people.