'I didn't choose to be bisexual' says Joe Lycett ahead of two hour Big Pride Party

The comedian admitted he didn't really understand Pride, as he prepares to host the Big Pride Party on Channel 4

Promising mischief and naughty stunts, the one-off spectacular will celebrate everything about Queer Britannia. Gemma Dunn finds out what’s in store.For a long time, comedian Joe Lycett admits he “didn’t really get Pride”.

“I couldn’t understand how I could be proud of something I didn’t have a choice in,” the 33-year-old comedian says of the annual LGBTQ+ movement, which this year celebrates 50 years in the UK.

“I didn’t choose to be bisexual. But as I’ve grown I’ve realised I did have a choice, a choice to be open and brave and say, ‘This is who I am’. I think Pride is many things to many people, but to me it’s pride in taking that leap.”

Observed each June to honour the 1969 Stonewall riots, Pride commemorates the coming together of people in love and friendship, in turn offering up an entire month of events dedicated to the uplifting of LGBTQ+ voices and culture and the support of LGBTQ+ rights across the globe.

Since 1972, bands of men, women and non-binary protesters have marched through the streets of Britain for recognition and equality – each time a little bolder than the last.

Joe Lycett
Joe Lycett

But its half-century anniversary has served up its best month yet.

Lycett, for one, is getting in on the action by hosting a dazzling party live from Birmingham.

Titled Joe Lycett’s Big Pride Party, the two-hour inclusive spectacular – part of Channel 4’s Proud All Over programming – will see the lovable stand-up comic and consumer warrior celebrating all things LGBTQ+ alongside a whole host of famous faces.

“Hopefully, it’ll be thought provoking, nostalgic, a little moving and ideally funny!” he says.

“All are welcome, and we have an insanely good line up!”

Joining Lycett for the night will be fellow comedians Mawaan Rizwan and Rosie Jones, whilst confirmed to perform are Boy George and Culture Club, Steps and Self Esteem.

Also on the guest list is comedian Mae Martin, Olympic athlete Dame Kelly Holmes, national treasure Danny Dyer, the cast of this year’s hit drama Heartstopper, Hollywood legend Dame Joan Collins, comedian Tom Allen, Gina Yashere, drag legends Tia Kofi, Laurence Chaney and Adam All.

“Our line up is sensational, and I feel spoilt as it is!” Lycett admits when pushed on his dream guest.

“My queer icon growing up was Quentin Crisp, but alas he’s been dead for some time. I would’ve loved to meet him and interview him. Thankfully there’s some amazing stuff on YouTube, so I can get my fix!”

Guaranteeing mayhem, mischief and naughty stunts, the extravaganza will also be reliving the queer telly that shocked Britain, whilst the specially invited audience – made up of LGBTQ+ icons, allies of the LGBTQ+ community and local heroes – will be sharing their own personal stories of Pride.

Handout photo issued by Channel 4 of Joe Lycett outside of Shell's Headquarters in London
Handout photo issued by Channel 4 of Joe Lycett outside of Shell's Headquarters in London

Plus, Lycett – known for his elaborate social media feats – will be pulling off one his most ambitious stunts to date, which involves a load of MPs and an impromptu statue in Westminster.

Strap in and strap on for a Pride party that will make your eyes water, the show’s billing warns.

What about its pledge to right some consumer wrongs?

“Not quite. But we will be highlighting some of the issues facing our community today in a fun and light-hearted way,” he quips.

As for throwing the celebration in his hometown, “It seems like such a waste. Why do it in Birmingham?” teases the native Brummie.

“London would’ve been better. London is a great city. The capital. All the best things happen there. The Tube! A Soho House on every corner! Pret! What’s Birmingham got?”

The Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back star is joking, as he still lives in the West Midlands city, despite a busy TV schedule predominantly based in London.

While he’s made a name for himself on popular shows such as Live at the Apollo, 8 Out of 10 Cats and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Lycett has often remained tight-lipped on his relationship status, yet has described himself as pansexual, which means he’s attracted to people of all genders and sexes.

“I say bisexual because it’s easy for people to understand but I actually don’t quite think it’s that. Pansexual seems to be the closest thing at this point in the sense that what I’m attracted to changes depending on intangible things,” he told the i back in 2016, with his preferences often forming part of his stand-up routines.

Will he be attending many of the Pride celebrations this year?

“I’ve already been to a small Pride in Birmingham and I will try to get to the main Pride there later this summer,” he answers. “I’m a big advocate for the smaller Pride parties. The big ones are fantastic in lots of ways, but I love it when Pride can come to local communities.”

He adds: “I met a lesbian couple at Pride once who had just got married. Their biological families had rejected them and so they decided to go to Pride for their wedding party because, in their words, they wanted to be ‘with our family.’ That’s what it’s all about to me.”

All the more reason for our broadcasters to mark the occasion, too.

“It’s great Channel 4 are championing this. They’ve been at the forefront of this stuff for a long time, and it was always the channel I loved growing up, commissioning bold shows that no one else would,” Lycett reasons.

“So much queer talent is launched by Channel 4, myself included. We should fight for it to remain independent and publicly owned. It does more for us than we know.”

And so where does he hope we will be in another 50 years?

“I hope I will be sipping crisp Gavi di Gavi on the Riviera, watching old episodes of Tipping Point. As for the LGBTQ+ community? I don’t care…”

Joe Lycett’s Big Pride Party will air on Channel 4 on Sunday, July 3.