Crowds lining Whitehall for the official Remembrance Sunday Parade applauded as gay military veterans, OutRage!, and representatives from seven other queer organisations marched to the Cenotaph for a special Queer Remembrance ceremony today, Sunday, 14th November, just after 12 noon.
The applause and cheers outnumbered a few isolated incidents of abuse, when some straight veterans and onlookers shouted "queer bastards", "faggots", and "you poofs should be ashamed of yourselves".
Following immediately after the official Remembrance Day ceremony and war veterans' march-past, the OutRage!-organised commemoration in Whitehall took some of the thronged on-lookers packed against the barriers by surprise.
Led by a pink flag bearer, 25 Queer Remembrance marchers, each wearing a large pink triangle, carried pink wreaths and bouquets, and a large shield in the form of a pink triangle, emblazoned with the words "Never Forget".
They marched from Horseguards Avenue, down Whitehall, to the Cenotaph, following the route taken minutes earlier by thousands of war veterans in the official Remembrance Sunday parade.
Among the Queer Remembrance marchers were several gay military veterans.
At the Cenotaph, Royal Navy veteran Ray Harvey Amer, aged 64, delivered the oration. --
"We remember and acknowledge the sacrifices made by lesbians and gay men who fought, died and suffered during the Second World War in the fight against Nazism. Today, we remember them with pride".
Mr. Harvey-Amer's oration was followed by the dipping of the pink flags and a minute's silence.
The OutRage! wreath, in the shape of a triangle made out of pink carnations, with the inscription "In memory of all the queers who died fighting Nazism", was placed at the base of the Cenotaph next to those from the Royal British Legion and the armed forces.
Wreaths from other lesbian and gay groups were then laid, after which the Queer Remembrance marchers paraded back up Whitehall and dispersed at Horseguards Avenue.
This year's Queer Remembrance commemoration was given added relevance when it was revealed by OutRage! that the Royal British Legion "refuses to acknowledge the sacrifice of gay people who helped defend Britain against Nazism", and "excludes the partners of deceased gay war veterans from the Remembrance Day parade".
"It is estimated that about 500,000 lesbians, gays and bisexuals served in the British armed forces from 1939-45", said Mr. Harvey-Amer, " accounting for around 10 percent of total enlistment.
"Queer Remembrance Day is necessary because the Royal British Legion refuses to acknowledge the queer contribution to the defeat of Hitlerism".
"The British Legion rightly allows widows and widowers to join the Remembrance march. Sadly, the partners of the lesbians and gay men who suffered and died are excluded from participating in this part of the universal act of remembrance", said Mr. Harvey-Amer in his Cenotaph address.
Mr. Harvey-Amer served as a nurse in the Royal Navy from 1957-62, on HMS's Blake and Maidstone, and at the Royal Naval Hospitals in Portsmouth, Plymouth and Hong Kong.
The floral pink triangle was sponsored by the florists
David Armstrong Designs,
152, Gray's Inn Road, WC1X 8AX,
Tel. 020-220.127.116.11; Fax 020-18.104.22.168.
GALHA - Alan Jones displaying wreath, 45 K
GALHA - Alan Jones after laying wreath, 70 K
Queer Remembrance Day 1999 was jointly sponsored by:
Campaign for Homosexual Equality
BBC: Remembrance Day honour -- BBC reporters dash off for early lunch
BBC: Picture gallery: War dead honoured -- Royal Family and Politicians
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