This year’s World Pride began with a lot of negativity. Budgets were cut, street parties were cancelled, timetables changed daily, and the Mayor of London stood there, watching everything unfold under his yellow fringe.
But the LGBT community and Londoners are not the crowd to fall down and stay there; when life gives us lemons, we squeeze the hell out of them. There is no negative without a positive side, and this year was the proof.
Multicoloured flags were waving in the rain; underneath it, people smiled, got wet, cheered, held hands, and supported human rights and equality. It seems that for some people, Pride stops at the elaborate costumes, impressive drag outfits, or barely-there hot pants. But pride is so much more.
From bringing issues like marriage, work rights, spousal abuse, homonegativity and homophobia into the forefront, to actually demonstrating a presence, the event serves a purpose. It shows that it is ok to be yourself, in any shape and form, gender and sex, sexual orientation or practice.
It shows that there is diversity. It was so encouraging to see teenagers participating, being there, with huge grins on their faces, waving their rainbow flags proudly; for what it represents; for who they are. Opposite the massive Trafalgar Square stage, visitors could find stalls with friendly faces, ready to provide help and information: Stonewall, Terence Higgins Trust, LGBT History Month, GMFA, Gingerbeer, Antidote, Youth Chances, Square Peg Media, G3, FS and Out Magazines, GuySpy, Albert Kennedy Trust, London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard, Galop, were some of the companies that were there with information.
Even though the whole day was amazing, I have to admit that there were two moments that really touched me:
The first was when a handful of people, the Veterans, were at the very end of the parade, holding a purple banner with Veterans of 1972, UK’s First LGBT Pride written in white. Peter Tatchell was there as well, holding a banner reading Decriminalise Homosexuality Worldwide, Global LGBT Equality. I could not help but clasp my chest, as I was watching these inspiring people walk down the street, with 40 years of fighting for equality at their backs. People that must have suffered through time to achieve rights that so many of us now take for granted. I clapped as hard as I could, and wished them another 40 years of strength and health.
But the moment that stayed with me was when a lesbian couple was walking, hand in hand, and someone turned and started making fun of them. For a milisecond, their hands weakened, their grip loosened, their eyes flashed with worry. And then the crowd around them intervened. We started booing the booer. The street did not tolerate intolerance. Their hands strengthened, their grip tightened, and their eyes filled with tears, moved with the support they received. And then they turned, and looked at each other with the kind of love that can not be wrong, can not be criticised or classified or blamed.
LGBT rights (basically, human rights) are still not acknowledged in so many countries. People are encouraged to live a lie, punished for being themselves, and get abandoned, abused, or even killed for not being what society expects them to be. Lesbian women are ok only if it is to turn straight men on, and gay men are ok only as secondary characters in a HBO series. These are the only acceptable forms, because they are familiar, non-threatening. Well, Pride makes the LGBT community visible; familiar; non-threatening. As Quentin Crisp once said:
It is not the simple statement of facts that ushers in freedom; it is the constant repetition of them that has this liberating effect. Tolerance is the result not of enlightenment, but of boredom.
I hope you had a nice World Pride, and even if you were not in London, celebrated it anyway. You must be proud of yourself for being open-minded, non-judgemental, and supportive, to the millions of people who look at others like you for acceptance, unconditional friendship, and love; proud for being a part of the solution.
Love you all for who you are,