- Eurovision – Against Russia’s Drag Ban - 3 May, 2014
- Size Probably Doesn’t Matter - 10 April, 2014
- Today History Changes – Same-Sex Marriage in England & Wales - 29 March, 2014
We find ourselves in May and Pride season is well and truly upon us! This weekend sees what I like to think of as the warm up act to the summer ahead, Birmingham Pride.
Being from the Midlands, I hold a special place for central England’s biggest gay festival. I’ve shared many a great moment there with some fantastic people, and met some amazing personalities there too. But what is it about a three legged lesbian race, some pop groups whose greatest hits saw their heyday before you were born, and a fairground you’d only go on after six pints of watered down beer, followed by apple sourz chaser, that makes us still love Pride? Is it even relevant anymore?
The first Pride events set out as a stance against homophobia. They were a statement to say, we are here and we are going to embrace life in spite of the opposition you may throw at us. In fact, events such as Moscow Pride still maintain that original burning impulse, marking important anniversaries in LGBT history, such as the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Russia in 1993, whilst highlighting the very real struggle that continues in society at large. With Pride events taking place all over the country, and in an increasing number of countries around world, do we risk their importance and individuality being diluted? Well, here are my top 5 reasons why Pride is still as important as ever:
1- It’s about friends. For many people Pride offers the opportunity to catch up with old chums, make new ones and generally socialise with other gay, lesbian, bi and trans folk. It’s also a time that inevitably causes many a Grindr app to overload, with many new “friends” made, and some getting luckier in one day than they have been all year. Despite this side of Pride, coming out is still a daunting thing to do, and meeting LGBT friends at such an open and happy event still gives those who aren’t out anonymity among the masses, letting everyone be themselves regardless.
2- It’s about music that makes you feel good. From Katrina and the Waves, to Bucks Fizz and erm, Scooch, Prides give everyone an excuse to indulge in cheesy pop acts you’d never dream of admitting to liking and weren’t quite, well good enough to make The Big Reunion. It seems OK to say you’ve seen such acts if you tell others it was at Gay Pride, “I don’t really like them, I was just soaking up the atmosphere!” God bless Adam Rickitt’s scantily clad comeback.
3- It’s about being you. Unless you are walking down Compton Street in Soho, or Manchester’s famous Canal Street, where else do same-sex couples feel comfortable walking along arm in arm? At Pride it’s the norm and the accepted, because being proud of who you are is what it’s all about.
4- It’s about exposing the good work of LGBT organisations. Hundreds of charities and activity groups attend events across the country, many of which are not at the forefront of our minds. Last year I was handed a flyer for a gay men’s nudist walking group, inviting me to their next trip up a mountain. I’m pretty sure that it was going to be a little too cold for that hike, but Pride does give great exposure to organisations and services that are on hand and available to help us fight the good fight. Whether it is for equality in the workplace, LGBT specific counselling services, sexual health testing or naked hiking.
5- Finally it’s about equality. Pride brings awareness to the heterosexual world of the issues and needs that many LGBT people are forced to deal with on a daily basis. Whilst the social equality achieved here in the UK is something to be championed, Pride events around the globe bring much needed attention to the opposition and resentment still felt towards a group, for nothing else than their sexual persuasion. Several generations of LGBT communities attend and celebrate Pride, but how many young LGBTers are aware of the oppression and stigma we’ve suffered in the not too distant past? It’s an oppression that’s still present today around the world and one that the Trans community still faces within our own shores.
Ultimately, Pride is a great reminder of the freedom we have achieved in the West, the fight that’s been fought, and the struggle that remains ahead. It’s a celebration of pride in ourselves and the wider gay community. It is also an opportunity to highlight that there is more to a gay relationship than just rubber, poppers and dogs that fit into man bags; there is also love.
This week more than ever is a reason to remind people of this, with the equal marriage bill having been debated amidst strong opposition, mostly from the back benches of parliament. Now is our time to show pride and love. Let’s fill summer 2013 with a colourful demonstration of homosexuality at its best, and take pride in taking on the next challenge in our equality!