Navy marches in London Pride

Royal Naval and Royal Fleet Auxiliary personnel donned their ceremonial uniform and proudly displayed their operational medals as they marched through the streets of the capital for London Pride on Saturday 27 June.

Marching with their Service colleagues from the Army and the RAF, as the Senior Service the Royal Navy led the way past cheering crowds for the 43rd gay pride festivities.

Joined by the occasional high-spirited campaigner along the way the parade was a resounding success for the personnel involved.

Leading Regulator Lousie Lee said: “I attended Pride this year in uniform for the first time. I grew up as a teenager going to London Pride with my mates from the area and I finally felt the time was right to march. 

"There is no better way to do it than in my uniform as I am so proud of the Royal Navy and its attitude towards LGBT community.”

There is no better way to do it than in my uniform as I am so proud of the Royal Navy and its attitude towards LGBT community

Petty Officer (Survival Equipment) Claire Garrett, Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose

Petty Officer (Survival Equipment) Claire Garrett of Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose said that she has served in the Royal Navy for 13 years and was extremely proud to represent her Service.

“With it also being Armed Forces Day today I hope people realise that it is no longer frowned upon, no longer banned and you are not ridiculed any more for your sexuality,” she said. 

“There are brilliant support networks available to all and this day just shows that anyone can be part of a team and contribute to a goal, no matter what their background, sexuality and gender.”

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary also made their presence felt with Officer Cadet Sarah Stevens proudly wearing her uniform.

“I joined the TA back in 1998 when being gay was not compatible with service life and had to hide my sexuality,” she said.

“Times have changed so much since then and I am extremely proud to be able to march in uniform with the Naval Service. 

"My mother marched in the first gay pride march back in 1972, she knows exactly how far the UK has come in terms of Equality & Diversity and I will be thinking of her every step of the way on Saturday.”

And Royal Naval Reservist at HMS Vivid in Plymouth Able Seaman Martin Whitehouse, a police officer, said he was delighted to be taking part.

“Marching in uniform at London Pride for me is about being visible to the public and showing support for other armed forces personnel and wider community who might be struggling their sexuality,” he said.

“It's a celebration of equality and the journey that was taken before me enabling me to be open and supported in my RNR career regardless of my sexual orientation. 

"It's a great opportunity to meet other reserves and regular colleagues who can give advice, support, mentoring and first hand experiences of life in the Fleet.”

In January the Royal Navy marked 15 years since the lifting of the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel openly serving in the Armed Forces with a Tri-Service reception at Whitehall.

Since the ban was lifted the Royal Navy hosted the first LGBT conference, marched in uniform in London Pride and has become one of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions – all closely followed by the Army and RAF.