Happy Pride

Happy Pride

Pride season is in full swing with processions and celebrations large and small up and down the realm and around the globe. It’s a time to revel in the diversity of our rainbow world and a welcome antidote to the pollution of rising populism. We’ve been regulars at Norwich Pride but, sadly, we’ll miss it this year. So, instead, we chucked ourselves into the pride event in Great Yarmouth, a kiss-me-quick bucket and spade seaside town and port on the east coast. As a child, Liam spent many a happy holiday flying his kite along Yarmouth’s golden sands. The resort has long been down on its uppers – the advent of cheap package holidays to sunnier foreign climes saw to that. But, of late, the town been given a shot in the arm by staycationers avoiding Brexit and the construction of enormous wind farms in the North Sea.

Although understandably modest by Norwich standards (not to mention the mega parties in London and Brighton) the pride march along Marine Parade was no less joyful, camp or colourful. Even the Norfolk Fire Service got in on the act by bringing up the rear. No jokes about the fireman’s hose please.

Happy Pride!

British Pride

British Pride

Norwich Pride has come of age with a huge rainbow flourish as sparkling as the weather. A marcher held up a placard that read ‘The First Pride was a Riot’ – a nod to the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York. This year’s march was led by the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, the pride organisers, coppers sporting rainbow epaulettes and the Lord Mayor waving a rainbow flag. We’ve come a long way.

A lone dissenter held up a large cross and urged the crowd to repent. Onward Christian soldiers smiled at him benignly as they passed by.

Young and old marched together. An older guy caught my eye. He was riding a mobility scooter emblazoned with pride motifs and sipping a glass of white wine. Now that’s the way to travel. The loud and proud procession took about an hour to pass and was brought up the rear by an enormous rainbow ‘river’ held aloft by revellers.

Pride in the park was packed with a rainbow of people of every gender, size, age, persuasion, ability and garb. We roamed about soaking up the merriment and watched a few of the acts doing their thing on the main stage. When the youthful crowd started singing along to a cover version of S Club 7’s ‘Reach’, my heart melted. A young lady emerged from the audience and asked us if we were gay. She couldn’t have been more than 16. “Yes”, we replied.  “I’m so proud of you,” she said. “I’ve just come out”. We hugged and wished her well.

It made me cry with pride.

That was Norwich Pride…

A celebration of the LGBT community for everyone.

What’s the Point of Pride?

What’s the Point of Pride?

They used to say,

‘they shouldn’t be allowed to march.’

Now they say,

‘Why bother to march?’

Certainly there’s more joy than anger on pride marches these days. Yes, attitudes have changed, things are better. But all that glitters is not gold. Recently, Channel Four ran a series of ads made by Pride in London. It was part of the channel’s ‘50 Shades of Gay season’ marking the fiftieth anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. The ads featured belated apologies from parents who rejected or ridiculed their own children because of their offspring’s sexuality or gender identity. Still too many parents disown their own for the sake of family, faith and community. Still too many parents worry about how it looks, not how how it is. Still too many young people suffer bullying and rejection – at school, on the streets, at home. Some cope better than others. Some don’t cope at all. We may be living in the age of sexual enlightenment but suicide rates remain depressingly high. Why is this?

‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad.’

As famously written by poet, Philip Larkin.

Back in the dark ages, my experience with my own family was unusually benign for the times. It helped make me what I am today, for good or ill (no laughing down the back, please). The people in the ads are actors but the message is powerful. That’s why we march. That’s the point of pride.

 

Norwich Pride, Bigger, Better, Prouder

Norwich Pride, Bigger, Better, Prouder

…finest Pride in the finest city.

Lord Mayor of Norwich, Marion Maxwell

Everyone is welcome here today and that is the spirit of Pride.

Chloe Smith, MP Norwich North

Norwich, I love you. You make me proud. Proud to be the MP for your city. Proud to drape this city in colours of the rainbow.

Clive Lewis, MP Norwich South

I couldn’t put it better myself.

The people of Norwich did us proud. And let’s not forget all those dedicated people who made it all happen. So I’d like to give a big hand to the #NorwichPride organisers. And thank you for the beer tent. You made an old lush very happy.

Images and video courtesy of everyone!

London Pride

London Pride

London Pride, Attitude Magazine

London Pride has been handed down to us,
London Pride is a flower that’s free.
London Pride means our own dear town to us,
And our pride it forever will be.

Image courtesy of Attitude Magazine (I hope they don’t mind), lyrics courtesy of Noel Coward (I’m sure he wouldn’t mind) and the idea courtesy of my husband, Liam (I know he doesn’t mind).

What a Gay Day

Freedom to MarryYesterday, the US Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage in all 50 states and America joined a select group of nations that have introduced marriage equality. The map I’ve featured from Freedom to Marry illustrates the situation around the world before the Yankee vote. In these damp little islands of ours, only Northern Ireland is holding back the tide, Canute-like. The fire and brimstone lot who dominate the Northern Ireland Assembly are in good company – kiddie fiddling priests, the British National Party, Ex-Soviet republics and religious fundamentalists of all persuasions who fine, flog and hang. The dusty old Ulstermen will lose the fight in the end. It’s inevitable. Reason and sanity are against them. Today, the streets of London are paved with gold sequins. It’s London Pride, a grand celebration of everything that’s been achieved. Doubtless, black cab drivers will cuss and bemused tourists will think they’ve landed in Oz. Sadly, we can’t be there to join the party.

Istanbul Pride 2014

It’s the summer marching season once again and the ordinary and the extraordinary all around the world are doing their bit for the cause (when they’re not being ostracised, abused, brutalised, beaten, jailed or murdered, that is). It was Gay Pride in Istanbul at the weekend (the largest in the Muslim world) and thousands of people marched along İstiklâl Caddesi (Republic Street), Istanbul’s jugular, carrying aloft a giant rainbow flag. Turkey’s po-faced and increasingly unhinged Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, muttered a few words of disapproval which is a good enough reason as any to shake your booty, out and proud, along the famous street. Unlike some Istanbul demonstrations in recent times, the march ended without incident from the trigger-happy tear-gassers. As the crowd dispersed peacefully through the side streets, some may have passed by the British Consulate, a grand Italianate-style building and once the potent symbol of Nineteenth Century imperial virility. If they looked up, they will have seen the rainbow flag flying out and proud above the building. We Brits often get things oh so wrong (just look at Iraq these days) but now and again, we get things oh so right.

British_Consulate_Istanbul

Thank you to Turkey’s for Life for a tweet in the right direction.