The marching season will soon be upon us. I’m not referring to the archaic and socially corrosive pipe and drum marches in Northern Ireland. No, I mean the collective act of uninhibited worship by LGBT communities in towns and cities up and down the realm. He-men in heels, lads in lycra, dames in dungarees and enough gingham to supply every Doris Day film ever made will be parading through the streets chanting the pink anthem, “We’re here, we’re queer, we go shopping.” All are welcome. It’s a glorious celebration of diversity without the slightest risk of disturbance by fascist thugs. Blighty isn’t Russia. The only skinheads on view will be in frocks. It wasn’t always like this. The Sceptred Isle has come along way in a few short years. According to The European International Lesbian and Gay Association Europe, Blighty is the best place in Europe to be gay. From what I’ve read and experienced, I would agree. Who’d be openly gay in Moldova?
Sadly, the dancing days of mega-prides are almost behind us. Most of them operated on a wing and a prayer at the best of times: a single bad weather day would financial cripple the lavish parties in the park with their huge overheads, top billing acts and decadent consumption of alcohol and recreational drugs. The cost of the clean-up operation alone was enough to bail out the Greeks. Brighton Pride is the lone survivor. Last year, for the first time, it was pay-on-the-gate affair. I fear its days are numbered.
We’ve been following the preparations for Norwich Pride with keen interest. Money is tight but the dedicated volunteers are doing all they can to ensure the festival remains both fun for all the family and solvent. The fundraising efforts that have caught my eager eye include ‘Ping Pong for Pride,’ a table tennis knockabout at a local primary school (with rainbow balls) and a Eurovision Song Contest party at Cinema City (proceeds to be split between Norwich Pride and the BBC’s Children in Need). On the 28th July, the gayest day of the year, Norwich will be awash with an ocean of fluttering rainbow flags, including over Hellesdon Hospital, Aviva Insurance, the Norwich Puppet Theatre, City College, Norwich City Council, Norfolk County Council, the Castle Museum and the Fire Service Head Quarters. We’ll be there to cheer on the drag queens, soak up the gaiety and to dance to diversity at Norwich’s very own family-friendly rainbow ball.