Sybil Barrington, aka Mark Anderson, was joined by fellow Bermudians in London's Gay Pride parade this weekend, highlighting the lack of human rights for homosexuals in Bermuda. *Photo by Jeffrey Porter.
Sybil Barrington, aka Mark Anderson, was joined by fellow Bermudians in London's Gay Pride parade this weekend, highlighting the lack of human rights for homosexuals in Bermuda. *Photo by Jeffrey Porter.
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WEDNESDAY, JULY 6: Crowned in a bejewelled tiara and dressed in a sequin gown, the Queen of Bermuda dazzled crowds at London’s Pride parade on Saturday.

It was the first time Sybil Barrington — aka bus driver Mark Anderson — took part in the parade, which celebrates gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender culture around the world.

The event attracts a million spectators every year with its party atmosphere of community and diversity.

Although Bermudians have taken part for the past three years, the presence of their ‘Queen’ gave the group an extra sparkle of glamour this year.

Diamonds

Joining the “preppy” contingent in their Bermuda shorts and Vespa scooters, Sybil shone in a peach sequinned gown gathered at the hip.

“The colour shined as bright as the sun,” said Sybil, when asked to comment on her designer stylist Leamington Ridley’s creation.

Sybil accessorized with a ‘Queen of Bermuda’ sash and five inch heels from Perry Footwear, plus a crown decorated with Swarovski crystals and mirrored stones fringed by diamonds.

She took the two-hour parade, from Portland Place down past Whitehall, in her stride.

“Heels are my sneakers,” said Sybil.

Along the way, she handed out 100 pink and blue wristbands from the Department of Tourism inviting potential visitors to ‘Feel the Love’.

Sybil said: “This was a big promotion for Bermuda. And a lot of people said they wanted to come here and see me perform.”

But the Bermudian party also carried a more serious message, with their banner ‘LGBT Refugees’ to highlight the lack of human rights for gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender peoples on the island.

Sybil said she took part to highlight the existence of legal discrimination in Bermuda, with the omission of sexual orientation in the 1981 Human Rights Act.

“A lot of gay people are forced to live abroad because of the hatred, discrimination and name calling in Bermuda,” said Sybil.

“I don’t want another soul to go through what I’ve been through. I’m doing this to fight for everyone in this country, for the people living a clandestine lifestyle today and the children of tomorrow.

“A lot of people in London asked me why we were calling ourselves ‘refugees’ and they were very surprised when I said it was still legal to discriminate in Bermuda based on sexual orientation.

“They were shocked by it, particularly as Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory.

“I know of two young kids under the age of 18 who are living on the streets because their parents have kicked them out.

“This is why we need more legal protection.

“You have got to protect your citizenship, your people. That is what governments are there for, so the Bermuda Government needs to do its job.”

Amendment

Government announced plans to table an amendment to the 1981 Human Rights Act in last year’s Throne Speech.

Glenn Blakeney, Minister of Youth Affairs, Families, Sports and Community Development, told a press conference in November: “We’re hoping it will be brought forward before the end of the (legislative) session.”

But asked for an update on the legislation yesterday, Mr Blakeney did not respond at the time of going to press.

During his time in London, Mr Anderson met Sean Connery and went to see both Janet Jackson and Prince in concert.

He was also presented with an Yves Saint Laurent dress worn by Shirley Bassey from a London designer friend, Lorcan.

Mr Anderson said the black silk chiffon dress with ostrich feathers was a gift “to compliment me for what I had done for the gay community in London”.

During the parade, Sybil was announced as a “legendary” performer and one of the 100 most influential gay entertainers in the world.

She was asked to perform on the Pride stage at Trafalgar Square and went on to appear at London’s Hippodrome and Vauxhall nightclubs, with Shirley Bassey’s Get the Party Started.

Sybil now intends to take part in the parade every year. “It was fabulous. There was cheering, applause, whistles and horn blowing. The crowd really enjoyed us,” she said.

“I was blowing kisses, waving, and I think I represented Bermuda very well. It was all very classy and tasteful.”