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‘This is my culture!’: George Michael celebration returns to Hampstead Heath in alternative party to royal wedding

PUBLISHED: 11:55 14 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:55 14 May 2018

Revellers at last year's George Michael celebration on Hampstead Heath. Picture: Polly Hancock

Revellers at last year's George Michael celebration on Hampstead Heath. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

If, like us, the thought of the royal wedding makes you do a little bit of sick in your mouth, something better is taking place on the Heath on Saturday.

George Michael pictured in 1998, shortly before the release of his famous song 'Outside'. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA George Michael pictured in 1998, shortly before the release of his famous song 'Outside'. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA

There’s an alternative party happening at the bandstand in Golders Hill Park, and it celebrates the life of Highgate’s George Michael: “the real queen”.

A coalition of London’s LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex) community is holding the free “George Michael – This is My Culture” party to celebrate his talent and courage promoting sexual freedom.

It’s back in the well-known cruising area after hundreds came to last year’s event.

It marks 20 years since his hit “Outside”, George’s response to being publicly outed in Los Angeles. This year is also the 30th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s “section 28” law, which tried to ban public promotion of homosexuality. It was abolished in 2000.

Carla Ecola, project director of The Outside Project homeless and winter shelter, is one of the organisers. She said: “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. This is My Culture is a beautiful way to celebrate the life, activism and sexual freedom and power thar I feel he gave our community.”

Tributes to George Michael outside his house in Highgate. His family recently asked fans to remove the tributes out of respect for his neighbours. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Tributes to George Michael outside his house in Highgate. His family recently asked fans to remove the tributes out of respect for his neighbours. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA

Nell Andrew, from Queer Tours of London, added: “No longer with us but with presence stronger than ever, we gather at the world famous cruising area on Hampstead Heath to ‘go outside’ in honour of George.

“His every statement and action after his nasty public outing, said screw the judgement of others. We dance and sing and roll together and shout out, in the immortal words of George: ‘This is my culture!’”

Any proceeds from the event will go to The Outside Project. Starting at the bandstand, it takes place from midday.

The Ham and High, meanwhile, is also sponsoring next month’s “Fair in the Square” in Highgate – the free community celebration beloved of George himself before his death on Christmas Day 2016.

Held in Pond Sqaure from midday to 5.30pm on June 16, it showcases Highgate’s businesses and societies. For more information and to get involved, visit fairinthesquare.co.uk

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