Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Summer 2000

GALHA at Mardi Gras 2000

by George Broadhead

Photograph of helpers at the GALHA stall
Hat parade: helpers at the GALHA stall

From its founding in 1979 until 1994, GALHA (or the Gay Humanist Group as it was called in the earlier years) took part in the annual Lesbian and Gay Pride events with banner on the march and stall at the festival, and a number of GALHA members – including the late Willie Molton and Fen Jensen – played a key role in organising them.

By 1994 the festival, which was attended by 160,000 people and held for the third year running in London’s Brockwell Park, had become very commercialised and much less political.

It had also become open to heterosexual entrepreneurs eager to cash in on the so-called pink pound, and prohibitively expensive for community groups to hire a stall. For all these reasons GALHA decided not to take part in subsequent years, and the renaming of the event after a religious festival (mainly celebrated in Roman Catholic countries) did nothing to change our mind.

This year, however, the organisers of what is now (probably irrevocably) known as Mardi Gras took note of some of the recommendations made by community groups and not only located their stalls in an area separate from the commercial ones but provided them free! We therefore decided to have another go.

I think it is fair to say that, though not a disaster, our stall at Mardi Gras 2000 did not justify all the time and effort which had been put in to setting it up and staffing it, and the conclusion must be that the event has now become such a purely fun one that attempts to interest the vast majority of participants in anything remotely serious are doomed to failure. Having said that, we are very grateful to those members who helped and managed to enjoy themselves in the process (see picture). We were also pleased to welcome other members who visited the stall, and to chat to the few others who showed an interest.

Also, we managed to conduct a survey (devised by committee member Terry Sanderson) on religious belief, the results of which can be found on GALHA’s website.

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Created : Sunday, 2000-09-03 / Last updated : Monday, 2008-03-31
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