David Kuczora: Pragmatic policing to take Pride in
Peter Tatchell opened the press conference for Birmingham Pride 2013 to spread the campaign in support of gay marriage. He spoke of love and acceptance and how far we've come; none of the angry activism he's best known for.
It shows how far the UK has progressed in terms of LGBT equality. And what a change indeed. The police used to lock people up just for being gay. At this year's Pride - despite a record 75,000 attendees - they arrested nobody. A quite astounding statistic which shows just how attitudes have changed.
Were some people drunk? Yes. Was there the faint whiff of marijuana in the air? Occasionally. Was there rowdiness? Sometimes. Were the police and security turning a blind eye? Not at all. There was just no swivel-eyed witch hunt, but instead a fair and sensible approach to managing the revellers.
I saw the Inspector leading the policing effort standing atop the Barclays Spectrum double-decker bus during the parade through town. Stuart Bill is about seven feet tall and runs marathons, so it's difficult not to notice him. He looks like a proper copper. "I wasn't invited onto the float," he laughed when I bumped into him later. "I just assumed nobody was going to stop me."
During the day the police posed with Pride-goers for photos and happily let them wear their hats or helmets. Genuinely people seemed to be having fun.
Backstage on Saturday afternoon I caught up with Free Radio's Dan Morrissey, who was hosting the Main Stage. He reckoned the feel of the event was much improved on previous years: "It's a totally different atmosphere. Wrist-banding is the best thing they've done. Has kept out the people who were just there to get drunk and it's been brilliant for it."
I'd be inclined to agree. As I left The Village in the wee small hours of Sunday morning, the streets felt safe.
Me, Miss Marty and Dan Morrissey from Free Radio