A man from Milton Keynes is organising a gay St George’s Day parade to reclaim the date from far-right groups.
Joe McMahon, whose family owns gay nightclub Pink Punters, intends to take a rainbow bus around the town centre to celebrate the day and has persuaded the town’s mayor to join him.
Mr McMahon, who is actually Irish, told PinkNews.co.uk that his family always celebrate the day of their national patron St Patrick.
He said: “St George’s Day has been hijacked by racist homophobic organisations in recent years and now it seems it is politically incorrect to celebrate what every other country rightfully does – it’s national patron’s day.
“Everyone is frightened to celebrate it more and more if it is being associated with the BNP and the English Defence League.”
St George’s Day is this Friday. Mr McMahon admitted that his parade had been organised late, but said he hoped to have a small celebration this year and continue it in coming years.
He intends to drive the bus around Milton Keynes town centre with supporters and said he already had four volunteer Georges and one dragon.
He added: “A lot of the time, gay people just complain about what we haven’t got. But we’re lucky.
“There are a lot of countries where I couldn’t run a gay bar, or hold hands with a man in the street. St George’s Day should be a day to celebrate what we have.”
Mr McMahon has also invited the mayor of Milton Keynes, Euan Henderson, and says he is encouraging disabled and ethnic minority people to get involved.
Mr Henderson confirmed today he would be attending, and added: “Here’s a group of people that have taken the initiative for a really diverse St George’s Day parade and they should be applauded for it.
“The Irish community organise a terrific St Patrick’s Day parade, which Pink Punters are also heavily involved with, and we ought to be celebrating the special days of St George, St David and St Andrew, and the more local people that get involved the better. “
Mr McMahon’s family takes care of the Rainbow Bus, an iconic London routemaster painted in rainbow colours. The vehicle is operated on a not-for-profit basis and is used to support LGBT events such as LGBT History Month.
He plans to use the bus for Friday’s parade, which begins at 12pm at Bletchley Park, the wartime workplace of gay mathematician Alan Turing.