This month is Pride month, and people across the world are donning their flags, glitter, and going out to celebrate.
But despite the fact that Pride festivities are now established global events, the same predictable chorus is being sung from the sidelines. “But why do you still need Pride? You have gay marriage, you have your rights, aren’t you happy with that?”
Well, no. We’re not. Yes, gay marriage is legal, and things are a lot better than they used to be. But many people in our community, both in the west and the rest of the world, don’t have their rights. Pride is about coming out and saying “Hey I’m LGBT+, I’m here and I’m damn proud of that – and I deserve the same rights as you do.” It’s a glamorous protest and celebration rolled into one and I, for one, still need it.
In fairness, apart from writing this small piece and maybe watching the movie Pride for the 23rd time, I am probably not going to do much in the way of celebrating during this particular month. But, just like every August, I will go to my hometown Pride event in Cardiff. It gives me such a feeling of belonging and acceptance that I would feel quite lost if it wasn’t there.
My first year at Pride I was so scared. I was 17 and though I’d wanted to go for the few years before that I kept ending on jibbing out. I wandered towards the parade with my Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LINK – http://lgsm.org) t-shirt on, bright purple hair, camera in hand, and best friend at my side. I was excited, but also kind of scared. I had no idea what to expect.
As we found the parade I was still very nervous – I couldn’t believe how big it was! It took us ten minutes to walk to the front as I tried to snap pictures without getting in the way of everyone. As we got to the front I saw that LGSM were heading up the parade and went in front to try and get a few snaps: they saw our t-shirts and asked us to march with them.
I didn’t quite know what to do with myself, I was far too excited. A part of me didn’t feel like I belonged there, like I didn’t deserve to be walking with them. All I was doing was wearing the same t-shirt, but that was enough for them. “Come join us”, they said, no questions asked. I felt more accepted than I ever had in my life. 17 year old me, who was too shy to even ask someone for a picture, was walking at the front of their first ever Pride.
The rest of the day was a gleeful blur. I was still too scared to ask for a picture and almost too shy to go and take all the free stickers that were on offer, but I skipped through the whole day soaking up the sun, the music, the atmosphere. Then I covered myself in glitter and put my biggest platforms on for the after party and danced the night away.
And now every year I’ve been back I feel the same sense of glee, of belonging. It’s a feeling I don’t get anywhere else. Pride is still needed, it is extremely important to me, and I’m sure equally as important to many other people in the LGBT+ community.
**For reference, Lesbians and Gay Men Support the Miners started as a movement in the 1980s when gay men and women raised money for miners in South Wales during the strikes. The movie Pride is based off that story – it’s one of my all-time favourite films.