On Sunday 14th November Fighting With Pride was delighted to bring together a contingent of amazing LGBT+ Veterans for the National Service of Remembrance and to march past the Cenotaph as a visible cohort for the first time in history.

Considering most of us hadn’t marched in decades we were in step most of the way, but definitely when we needed to be! Forming up on Horse Guards Parade gave the opportunity to meet new faces and to catch-up with friends and colleagues not seen in a long time. Marching past the Cenotaph proved to be an incredible experience for all, with a mix of emotions including loss, remembrance, and memories good and bad, but above all, Pride.

We also had the honour of laying a wreath in remembrance of all those LGBT+ service personnel lost in conflict, along with all others. Our wreath carrier was Elaine Chambers, a dismissed QARANC Lieutenant who co-founded ‘Rank Outsiders’.

As a community, we were visible for the first time at this occasion, and the pride wasn’t just abundantly our own, others expressed their own pride in our presence, and welcomed us to an important military family home, whilst the electronic locator tag we carried helped the BBC identify our contingent on camera, and show that pride to the world.

Following on from the parade we were privileged to be hosted at the Phoenix Arts Club, co-owned by one of our marchers, Ken Wright, and we were able to share the occasion with partners, and guests from the many organisations, offices, trusts, networks and charities, that FWP has been working with over the 20 months since our launch.

With the solemn duty of Remembrance 2021 complete, it was the right time to look forward with challenge. After a warm welcome from our host, and introduced by our Chair, Patrick Lyster-Todd, our Patron, Lt General Sir Andrew Gregory, and Equalities Minister, Mike Freer, gave short speeches that highlighted the wrongs done, and the recent positive progress being accomplished, but also pushing to the front the work that still needs to be done, and must be done. Our Joint CEOs rounded the speeches off with thanks to those who have helped FWP move forward so quickly, but also to remind those in the room that the veterans in their very presence carried lived experiences that demonstrated why change must happen, and that whilst change was coming, they and so many more LGBT+ veterans still in isolation, needed that support, reassurance, and reparation, now.

It was a truly amazing day and images captured by our photographer, Colin Baldwin, will be uploaded to our website soon, and we will also be capturing personal accounts of what Remembrance Sunday meant to our marchers and those who marched with us in spirit.

If you would like the opportunity to march with us next year, please do let us know via www.fightingwithpride.org.uk/get-in-touch/

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