The marching season is in full mince and after the slaughter in an Orlando gay club, Pride has a special resonance this year. Cutting through the noise, it now seems the carnage was the work of a closet case whose religious beliefs fried his brain. He happened to be a fundamentalist Muslim with shameful stirrings but could just as easily have been a fundamentalist Christian with the same sense of self-loathing. That’s the trouble with blind faith, those who fall from grace sometimes lose the plot. Ironically, some from the religious right don’t know who to condemn more, the man or his victims. And, the Second Amendment is a godsend to the trigger happy. Jesus wept.
On this side of the pond, London Pride was heralded by a flypast from the RAF’s Red Arrows and a rainbow flag flew over Parliament. It’s hard to imagine that happening in many capitals around the world.
Predictably, Istanbul Pride was banned again this year. To avoid the brutal oppression of 2015 when everyone was swept from the streets by tear gas and water cannon, Istanbul’s Governor gave plenty of notice. Last year, the holy month of Ramadan was the excuse. This year it was the threat from ultra-nationalist groups. Or maybe the powers that be just didn’t like it. Come the day, a few brave souls turned up anyway and were met by riot police and…well, you can guess the rest. And that was followed a couple of weeks later by an attempted military coup to ‘protect’ human rights and ‘preserve’ Turkish democracy. Since when was democracy ever preserved by soldiers in tanks? Was the coup real or not? Conspiracy theories abound but it was real enough for those who died as a result. Whatever the truth, you can bet your bottom lira life will start getting tougher and rougher for those who won’t or can’t toe the party line. Get thee to a mosque and to Hell with human rights.
Norwich Pride is on the 30th July and the only aggro expected is from a few nutters whispering hell and damnation from the wings. Even the zealous are painfully polite in these parts (as befits the ‘second kindest’ place in the kingdom, according to YouGov research). We’ll be there to wave our rainbow flags accompanied by a couple of old reprobates from the Smoke. We’re praying for a bit of sun – minus the fire and brimstone. I hear we’re to have a beer tent this year, thank the Lord: a first for Norwich Pride and a major step forward in my humble opinion. Cheers!
A happy pride season to one and all, whoever you get down on your knees for.
Photo courtesy of UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
Another free ticket for Cinema City and another viewing: ‘Hyde Park on Hudson.’ We were enticed by the promising trailer, but I’m afraid the trailer contained all the best bits. Given the context – the first official visit of a British monarch to the USA, desperately trying to drum up American support on the eve of World War Two – and the salacious depiction of President Roosevelt as a serial philanderer with a First Lady who liked to lick the lettuce, the movie was disappointingly flat. The narrative was plodding and the dialogue lacked depth. Laura Linney put in a fine performance as ‘Daisy,’ the President’s distant cousin and reluctant paramour, Bill Murray as Roosevelt did his best with an average script and Samuel West made a suitably terrified King George VI. But ‘The King’s Speech,’ this ain’t.
Watch the trailer and skip the film.
Expedia, the giant American online travel company, is the latest corporation to step up to the plate in support of same-sex marriage in the States by commissioning a short promo video called ‘Find Your Understanding.’ When it was released, the video caused quite a stir across the pond with the religious right getting their bible belts in a twist. Say what you will about big business gate-crashing the equalities party and cashing in on the pink economy, but the more the merrier I say. It all helps the cause. I can’t help wondering though, where does Expedia stand on dispatching its customers to those far-flung places across the globe with abysmal records on human rights (including those where being opening gay can be extremely detrimental to your health)? Fancy a souk-fest in Saudi or a gorilla safari in Uganda? Book through Expedia for ‘people shaped travel.’ I can taste the hypocrisy.
The National League of POW/MIA Families is an American organisation incorporated in 1970 to obtain the release of all prisoners, establish the fullest possible account for the missing and secure the repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died during the Vietnam War. Each year there is a fundraising event in Washington DC. I was recently contacted by a member of the League asking if I would donate a signed copy of Perking the Pansies to be auctioned off to help raise some cash. I have to admit that I was surprised and not a little intrigued. How did a book about a couple of old homos living in a faraway Muslim land (and written in a peculiarly British carry-on style) come to the attention of a Yankee society with serious business on its mind? I was told that someone specifically requested it. Good enough for me I thought and off it went in the post. Let’s hope the book raises a couple of bucks for the cause.