Mon 20 Jun 22
Professor Rainer Schulze was delighted to be part of the Rainbow Pride group in the 1970s section of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant as London staged a massive show of diverse voices to celebrate her reign.
Veterans of the Gay Liberation Front who organised the first Pride march in 1972 had been invited to head this group, and they had nominated Professor Schulze to join them. To his own surprise, he ended up driven in a rickshaw with model and asexual activist Yasmin Benoit. Together with two other rickshaws, one of which carried two veterans of the Gay Liberation Front, they were followed by a 20 plus metre long progress flag carried by LGBTQ+ activists including Stonewall’s CEO Nancy Kelley.
Professor Schulze chose to wear a t-shirt with a large pink triangle, the badge that gay men were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps. In the 1970s, gay activists reclaimed the 'Pink Triangle' as a symbol of gay power and pride in the battle for equal rights.
Professor Schulze is an expert on the history of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution, and he edited an edition of the journal Holocaust in History and Memory titled ‘The Pink Triangle: the long shadow of the Nazi persecution of gay men’.
He said: “It was a very poignant and emotional moment, given that this was part of the official Queen's Pageant and until 2003 Section 28 prohibiting the 'promotion of homosexuality' by local authorities and schools was still in force in England and Wales.
“It was an even more poignant moment for me as I remembered those before me who perished in Nazi camps or were imprisoned in the 1950s and 1960s because of their homosexuality under the infamous Paragraph 175. I don't know how many spotted it, or indeed how many would have known what it meant, but I very consciously wore this t-shirt with a Pink Triangle.
“One of the reasons that we decided to participate in the Pageant (and we meaning above all the veterans of the Gay Liberation Front) was to get as much publicity as possible for our message that today, in 2022, it is not only okay to be LGBTQ+, but the Queen officially invited us to be part of "Her" pageant. With our participation we wanted to send a message of hope to everyone who is struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity and continues to face discrimination and worse. In particular we wanted to send this message to the 34 countries of the Commonwealth where homosexuality remains criminalised, based on the old British colonial laws: change is possible, and change must come!”
Professor Schulze will join the Pride march organised by veterans of the Gay Liberation Movement in London on 1 July, the exact anniversary of the first Pride march 50 years ago.
Photo credit: Copyright Professor Rainer Schulze. The photo shows Professor Rainer Schulze and Yasmin Benoit.