Too Proud?

Mitch Cole
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I need to lay down the the law pretty early on in this article – Gay Pride isn’t for me. Fret not, the whole piece won’t be written from one biased standpoint. I’ve attended Bristol Pride a few times with some close friends, I had a good time but never felt proud. Perhaps it’s a personal thing as I’ve always struggled with the idea that I’m “different” and, even lost in a sea of people the same as me, it’s never felt right. That’s not to say Pride is a bad thing, far from it in fact. The celebration can bring comfort and confidence to so many, along with a sense of empowerment and… well, pride.

There’s a certain type of person, though, the self-righteous homo, a breed of human that has never faced a hard day. Their gay to gay/day to day life is easy and flawless, smooth and accepted by everyone around them, and yet they feel the world owes them something. They are shallow and judgmental, even towards their “own”. They throw their sexuality at everyone they meet and are ready to shout “homophobia!” at every argument. Want to know the ugly truth? People don’t hate you because you’re gay, they hate you because you’re acting like a tool.

I’m writing this piece, stuck inside on what is the hottest day of the year so far, so at a staggering 31 degrees, I’m not entirely envious of the melting crowds of vest-wearing, chest-bearing people huddled together to see Sophie Ellis Bextor (okay), Blue (okay!) and Little Boots (OKAY). Those headliners are a far cry from Ruth Lorenzo (remember her? No, me neither) and the day will no doubt turn out to be a huge success as normal. All over the country, different Pride events are taking place – Black Pride, Disability Pride Parades and even a Leeds Jewish Pride. Regardless of my opinions on Pride and aggressive homosexuals, days like this are special and act as a true celebration of the continuing progress made in the gay world. Pride is fun and, as spoken about by our very own Pete Simpson, arguably still relevant.

Everyone should have the right to be who they want to be and dress in a way that makes them feel comfortable. We should be able to act however we want, to a certain degree anyway, and not live in fear of being ostracised or judged – that is what Pride is all about. However, the harsh reality is that this just isn’t the case. Society, and the world, have come a long way in their perception of homosexuality and gay people, but there’s still a way to go and a question mark above the Pride concept for many people. Is it an arrogant, crude denial of how we’re perceived by other groups or even an extension of how we’re different? Pride means different things to different people and perhaps that’s where the real magic lies.

Acting like we’re a separate part of society undeniably draws a lot of attention to gay people, perhaps not always in the light we wished. If we want to be accepted as part of “the normal world”, is it not slightly ironic that we take pleasure in alienating ourselves and brandishing us as different to everyone else? I understand this isn’t the intention but it’s naive to think that others won’t see it this way, resulting in a cruel backfire. Prides are still met with controversy in many areas, often protested and argued against, and there can be a sense of imminent danger. A close friend attended Belfast pride, became a victim of an infamous “gay bashing” and ended up being hospitalised with a broken nose and other injuries. We’re meant to be safe and proud at these events and yet things like this, so far from our fault, still happen. Grouping together as a united front is evidently not enough to deter those few creatures that deem us second class.

Pride might not be for everyone as it aims to please the masses and, without a doubt, succeeds to a large degree. If you’re a Pride regular, a proud Queen or even a straight friend, I tip my rainbow hat to you. If you’ve never been to Pride before, I urge you to go. The morals and sentiments hidden beneath the glitz and glamour are both crucial and wonderful, and there are great lessons to be learned there.

Just please, for the sake of gay people everywhere, attend for the right reasons. Pride isn’t about dressing wildly or acting out, and it’s certainly not about arranging a hook up (“I find Pride a bit redundant when you’re in a relationship” – anonymous homosexual, 2013) – it’s about celebrating progress and looking to the future. It’s about proving to everyone that we are capable of being part of society and shouldn’t be judged. So be happy. Be proud. But be safe.

About Mitch Cole

The love child of all seven dwarves, Bristol will always be home to me. With an unusual degree in Early Years Education, I'm keen to get my teeth into something new. Excited to write about anything and everything, I might even stimulate you with my emphatic opinions and disappointing vocabulary.