This years Pride will take place on Saturday July 7th and begins at Portland Place finishing up at Trafalgar Square. For London cabbie Ian Beetlestone this weekends event holds a special place in his heart having taken part in the parade in a specially designed London Taxi. The first official UK Gay Pride rally was held in July 1972, inspired by the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York. It became an annual fixture in London’s calendar, and by 2007 it had swollen to one of the largest and most prominent pride events in the world – and it’s still growing! It provides a platform for everyone from the diverse spectrum of London’s LGBT+ community to raise awareness on issues they still face, and to celebrate what has already been achieved.
Back in October 2013 Ian Beetlestone wrote his first blog post about picking up the Bishop of Salisbury, the Church of England’s first bishop to back same-sex marriage. He wrote about the stereotypical idea of the London cabbie as a man of socially illiberal views and fantasised about what a positive message about the trade it would send to drive around in a rainbow cab in solidarity with the LGBT rights movement. In January 2015 he resolved to get more involved in the gay community and contacted Martyn Loukes, chair of TfL’s LGBT network OUTbound, with a view to making his rainbow cab dream a reality. His suggestion was that he drove his cab in TfL’s entry into the Pride parade in June 2015, and that the cab was covered with a rainbow livery for the occasion. Martyn was instantly keen and both got cracking on making it happen. TfL designed the livery along the same lines as that of the number 8 bus already in service, taxi advertising firm Ubiquitous sponsored the fitting, and Ian’s gracious gaffer Howard at Easyrentacab in Bethnal Green gave permission for his cab to be wrapped and driven in the parade. Ian said in his blog: “It is such a thrill to drive this cab. It has changed my job. I am constantly photographed as I go around town. People point, stare, smile; I hear them reading out loud as I go by, “Ride with Pride? Ride with Pride!” I get thumbs ups. People shout, “Love it!” as I pass. The positive response from pedestrians, passengers and other cabbies has been overwhelming.
“It is very nice indeed that despite the current, many and much discussed elsewhere disagreements between TfL and the taxi trade, we have been able to work together to make this happen. I am absolutely delighted that for the first time, this year a hackney carriage will be parading with TfL in Pride alongside a Routemaster bus, right at the heart of the London transport family, which is exactly where we should be.”
Ian still drives his “Ride with Pride” taxi and has teamed up with London Taxi PR to help deliver a positive social media campaign during this years Pride weekend. Check out Ian’s fantastic blog for more stories here.