With another June in the rearview mirror, people who celebrated Pride month might have been under the impression that the festivities championing the LGBTQIA+ community were over. However, just across the pond in London, Pride month is still in full effect: Iconic spots in the city from Picadilly Circus to Trafalgar Square are all covered in rainbows, and the parade actually just wrapped on Saturday, July 6. An estimated 1.5 million people gathered in England’s capital to show up and show out for the queer community, including superstars like Sam Smith, Sir Ian McKellen, Renee Zellweger, and many more.
In addition to the multitude of celebrities who came out to march for the cause, companies and organizations like W Hotels, J.P. Morgan, the Post Office and others walked along in the parade. Acting as an ambassador for W Hotels was queer singer-songwriter Hayley Kiyoko, who marched with the hotel chain during the World Pride parade in New York City on June 30. She took a minute to chat with Billboard Pride about her partnership.
“I’m really excited to be partnering with W Hotels because there’s always talk of brands taking advantage of what’s popular, but not actually supporting and helping further the conversation,” Kiyoko explains. “I think W Hotels does do that. They’ve done it for years, since the beginning — they’ve created a safe space for the [LGBTQIA+] community all over the world.”
She continues, “[For the brand,] it’s not only about showing pride, but it’s about doing something about it. I think that the more big brands become advocates and actually donate [money to the cause,] the better.”
Read on for some of the highlights from the 2019 London Pride parade and more of the chat with Kiyoko.?
Billy Porter headlines the stage at Trafalgar Square
Billy Porter has been taking the world by storm, from starring in the show Pose to masterfully wowing on every red carpet he walks, so it only makes sense that he headlined a Pride festival before the season was over. He closed the evening with a set of both covers and originals, including his latest single, “Love Yourself.” He wore a silver sequined catsuit paired with an oversized moto jacket by The Blonds.
Sir Ian McKellen walks in the parade with FFLAG
Never one to shy away from a Pride party, Sir Ian McKellan walked through the parade with Familes and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (or FFLAG). He hyped up the crowd as he passed by, giving out high-fives and smiling the entire way.
Sam Smith takes selfies with fans
English powerhouse singer Sam Smith joined Levis and Queer Britain to walk in the parade in a colorfully tie-dyed t-shirt. Along the parade route, he paused to take selfies with fans — even offering to use his long arms to take the photos himself.
Little Mix’s Jade & Leigh-Anne march in support of children’s trans charity Mermaids
Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock of British girl group Little Mix marched in the parade with Mermaids, which is a British charity that supports gender diverse and transgender youth in the United Kingdom. The two of them donned bright smiles while wearing t-shirts that read “Together in Pride.”
Employees from Marriott International make waves with rainbow-colored balloon noodles
Marriott International, another company that participated in the parade, brought their employees in shirts that read “Love Travels.” A group of them banded together to wear backpacks made of string balloons tied together. When they stood in order, they formed a fun rainbow that blew in the London wind.
Designs by Bang London make a lasting neon impression
Derek Anthony Purcell and the Bang London team, who most recently designed the costumes for the Spice Girls reunion tour and Christina Aguilera’s Vegas residency, put together outfits for the W Hotel Leicester Square’s participants. A departure from the standard rainbow theme, Purcell decided to go with a bright turquoise, lime green, and gold color scheme to help the W’s participants stand out.
HAYLEY KIYOKO ON PRIDE
Why is Pride so important to you?
We’re not only celebrating ourselves, but we’re celebrating the generations before us and the great lengths that people went to fight for our rights. [Pride always feels incredible,] and it’s important to always feel incredible with who you are, every day.
What are some of your favorite Pride month memories?
When I performed with Kehlani in San Francisco for Pride [last year]. It was a really awesome, last-minute thing. It was crazy because [the festival] was shut down halfway through our song because of a noise disturbance — it felt very wild. People were standing on cars.
Why is it important for you to partner with W Hotels, and why do you think it’s important for companies to show their support for the LGBTQIA+ community?
I’m really excited to be partnering with W Hotels because there’s always talk of brands taking advantage of what’s popular, but not actually supporting and helping further the conversation, but I think W Hotels does do that. They’ve done it for years, since the beginning — they’ve created a safe space for the [LGBTQIA+] community all over the world. [For the brand,] it’s not only about showing pride, but it’s about doing something about it. I think that the more big brands become advocates and actually donate [money to the cause,] the better.