I have to admit it, I am not a particularly pro-active gay. I don’t always keep up with the latest trends in anything, I rarely know what developments have been made in the Gay Rights movement and I don’t support the gay marriage bill, as I previously expressed, and I rarely make appearances at large scale events. But don’t judge me for this. This year, I decided to make a change.
Following some ‘gentle’ encouragement and persuasion, I agreed to attend my first London Pride. I must say that initially, I was sceptical. The idea of being on public display and potentially having to show off and assert my right to be there didn’t particularly appeal to me. Despite this, however, I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed it.
I don’t think I had this sudden revelation that I could, in fact, be a pro-active gay. It was probably more the fact that the whole spectacle seemed like art or poetry in motion. Just for a day, the centre of London turned into some kind of utopian alternate universe. It just felt absurd to me that in a society such as we live in, such a huge horde of people could temporarily suspend their disbelief and be so supportive and/or unfazed by –what seemed like – an even larger horde of people, dressed in fairy wings, crazy costumes or not very much at all, parading through the capital.
To me, it was beautiful that, for the first time (I think) ever, I felt 100% comfortable – and able – to be the person I wanted to be. That I could express my affections for my significant other without hoping and praying that I wasn’t going to have verbal abuse hurled at me or, in the worst case scenario, be stabbed. Frankly, it was uplifting to see so many people come out and smile, support and encourage the people we are.
Of course, there will always be the cynical part of me that is reminded that some of these people come out to see a freak show and I suppose, to an extent, there always will be an element of that in the LGBT community. I love being a part of it, it gives me a real sense of a unique identity, but I can see how Drag Queens (the barrel of laughs that they are), are shrouded in a certain morbid fascination.
I think the most amazing thing about Pride however, was the state of Old Compton Street in Soho afterwards. Wall-to-wall with people and a carpet of litter covering the floor, people were clearly having a good time and enjoying themselves, but I think I’m rather glad I didn’t stay and party too late into the night. Lord knows what I may have got up to – baby steps, after all.
Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Pride. The beauty, acceptance and romance of it all. Even if there were some truly appalling performance acts in the Trafalgar Square after party. Next year, remind me to submit Euphoria as an option…
There is no denying that Pride is an experience, particularly for the inexperienced and honestly, somewhat sheltered like myself. If it’s something you only do once in your life, it’s certainly something to try. Keep an open mind but see if it reassures your faith in reality and realise just how far we’ve come as a community.
I’ve popped my cherry. Isn’t it time you did the same?