On the same day as the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, a coalition of London LGBT+ groups will throw an alternative queer celebration inspired by the legacy of George Michael.
Organiser Dan Glass, of Queer Tours of London, said, “As Meghan Markle and Prince Harry don their crowns and bow down to the Queen, join us for this very special occasion where we celebrate ‘Our Culture’, where public displays of affection are everyone’s duties and we show the world that queers are fabulous, and we are never going underground.”
Taking place on the notorious cruising area, Hampstead Heath, it marks 20 years since the release of George’s single, ‘Outside’, his response to being arrested for indecency and subsequent outing following a cruising incident. Fellow organiser, Nell Andrew, said, “No longer with us but with presence stronger than ever, we gather to ‘Go Outside’ in honour of George Michael. His every statement and action after his nasty public outing in 1997, said screw the judgement of others.”
While this event is timed to coincide with the royal wedding, it is the second time the celebration has been held. Damien Arness-Dalton described why George Michael remains the honouree. “We may have lost a legend last Christmas but ‘This Is My Culture’ is George Michael’s liberating mantra; advocating sexual freedom mapped in the landscape of cruising grounds and public toilets. It’s here where his memory lives on in our celebration of his life and work and unapologetically taking our love outside from the closets and into the trees.”
The event aims to help raise awareness of The Outside Project, which supports homeless LGBT+ people. It’s project director, Carla Ecola, spoke of Michael’s impact on her life. “George Michael was dragged through the press for cottaging when I was 13 years old. This was my introduction to homophobia and shaming. His defiant response, ‘Outside’, became the anthem for my queer youth.”
Revellers wishing to attend are asked to wear their best wedding frocks.
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