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.

Parade with Pride

Parade with Pride

Images courtesy of Norwich Pride on Facebook

By any measure, Norwich Pride 2013 was a rip-roaring, runaway success. 5,000 people flooded into the city to paint the town red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. Even the regal lions guarding the grand entrance to City Hall got into the act with rainbow garlands wrapped round their elegant necks and party hats propped on top of their fine heads. The BBC issued a weather warning but sheer exuberance blew the clouds away and bathed the crowds in warm sunshine. This was a Pride with a difference. Despite the large numbers, there was a touching intimacy and a genuine sense of inclusion sadly lacking in some of the mega Prides these days – no VIP areas for the cut above, no egos to massage, no fences to keep people out (or to keep them in), no faces that didn’t fit. We had a ball. Congratulations to the dedicated group of volunteers who made it all happen. You played a blinder.

I was chuffed to be asked to be the voice of Pride on Future Radio. Pity the poor people who had to listen to me witter on several times a day.

A picture paints a thousand words so check out the frocks and frolics on the Norwich Pride Facebook Page and the Norwich Evening News.

Turkish Pride

Turkish Pride

Istanbul Pride

The marching season has got off to a splendid start with Istanbul Pride throwing down the gauntlet with tens of thousands of people (some reports suggested 60,000) parading along Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul’s main thoroughfare. This is where Istanbulers come to meet, drink, shop, party and demonstrate. The brave souls carried a giant rainbow flag and, in an unprecedented show of unity, held banners demanding justice and LGBT rights in Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and Arabic. And for the first time there were also Pride marches in Izmir and Antalya. One of the most popular slogans was “Where are you, my dear? Here I am, darling!” Will the increasingly repressive Turkish Government led by the dour and autocratic Erdoğan listen?  Probably not. But, following hot on the heels of the vicious crackdown of the Gezi Park protest, Istanbul Pride goes to prove that it ain’t over ‘till the fat drag queen sings.

Feel the vibe…