Is Pride still relevant?
The first time I heard there was such a thing as ‘Gay Pride’ was way back in 1984, when I lived in Norwich. The only gay bar was hidden away above a straight pub, and the gay club, The Caribbean, was discretely situated round the back alley, above a chip shop and only open three nights a week.
This was when it was illegal to have gay sex unless you were over 21 and then there was a new disease that was affecting the gay community, but no one really wanted to talk about that. So the idea that there was a Gay Pride March through London, with a mass gathering in the park, sounded like paradise.
Unfortunately, I got too drunk the night before and over slept, so only heard about it from my mate Carrie, telling me how fantastic it was and how she and her mates had marched with Jimmy Summerville, (the Cheryl Cole of his day).
A couple of years later, I would find myself living in Brighton and made sure I was part of the march, shouting loud that I was proud to be gay.
Fast-forward a few years and Brighton had its first fledgling Gay Pride; a march through the town, followed by a few shared sandwiches and a six pack of beer in the park. From those humble beginnings, Pride has grown to be not so much a protest, but a celebration of how far we have come. Gone are the days of gay bars with blacked out windows and clubs hidden away in basements. Now the march is seen as a way of celebrating our diverse culture.
Everyone, from the jeans and t-shirt brigade to the T.V.s, muscle marys, dykes and gays, (butch, fem and those in-between), and of course our drag queen royalty waving from the back of a vintage car, showing our town that we’re here and queer and proud of are diverse family. There is even a police presence within the march itself, demonstrating just how forward we have come in political terms.
Living in our Brighton bubble, where the GLBT community has been allowed to flourish, it is very easy to knock Pride. Yes there are things that aren’t working, the huge debt of £50,000 left from last years event is one that cannot be ignored. But really that is down to all of us. If we want to see the Pride Party with all those attractions, then we all need to dig down into our pockets and give more then our loose change.
We could of course return to the days of a march through the town and bring a picnic to share in the park. But at least we have the choice to march, to gather all in one place, without fear of being arrested and thrown in prison which for those in less liberal counties is a reality.
So is Pride still relevant? I would say without question, a resounding “Yes!”
All comments welcome.