Good evening, pals!
I am writing this post in a very unhappy state – namely, I feel like I am being punished for some unknown misdemeanour by being put in the seventh circle of hell, A.K.A the packed 6’o’clock train from London to York, which has no air conditioning and is full of people who just want to FIGHT with one another about this fact. Jeez Karen, can’t you just shut up and drink your complimentary bottle of water?
This weekend has been a special one. I went with my cousin, who is more like my younger sister, to PRIDE in London!
To those of you reading this who are like, “huh?”, pride is an enormous day of parades and celebration through the centre of London (and many other cities have them too!) in which LGBTQ+ individuals can celebrate their way of life, be it their gender, sexuality, sex, and many other things in that category.
Now, you might notice I am being careful with my wording (something that’s rare for me). This is because I do not identify with any of the aforementioned categories. I went along to show support for all those who do identify in this way, and to join in the celebration of the wonderful diversity and uniqueness of the individuals that make up the world we live in!
Phew. I really hope that wasn’t offensive in any way! It wasn’t meant to be at all.
The LGBTQ+ community is most well-known for the controversy it has caused in the past, and indeed, the issues that are still very real in the rigid, sometimes outrightly unaccepting world of today.
Case in point – on Thursday night I went to see the cinema screening of the play “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie”, in which the central character (Jamie) faces his own struggles with acceptance, as a male Drag Queen in a working-class Northern environment. I would like to mention this film as I not only A). REALLY ENJOYED IT (it’s so so so SO funny and uplifting!) but B). was able to gain an insight into some of the real struggles faced by LGBTQ+ individuals, every single day.
I’m not a total stranger to issues surrounding gender and sexuality, though. As an anthropologist, I studied modules with names like “sex, reproduction and love”, and “sex in public places” – to some extent, I am aware of the literature and conversations happening, based on this enormous area, which is sometimes fraught with conflict and contrasting opinions.
So the parade is kind of like an enormous signal to the world – this is real, it’s happening, hop on board with it.
But let’s not get bogged down too much in the politics of it all, (this is a #happypost) as the parade is, first and foremost, a celebration of LGTBQ+ communities and groups!
And boy did it live up to this!
It. Was. HUGE.
People were just crammed into Oxford Street like I cram my clothes into my messy, untidy drawers. Overstuffed, is the word I would use. With flags everywhere and support signs akimbo, it was like being in a world full of brightly coloured, chattering parrots. Actually, some people even had wings on, so there’s that similarity too.
The energy and the light of it all, the vibrancy of the colours and the glitter of the drag queens just brought a smile to your face.
People in short shorts and platform Converse and lots of lycra and with crazy hairdos pranced and danced and marched their way down the centre, blasting music out of huge speakers and throwing freebies into the crowd. These ranged from free condoms #staysafe, kids, to packets of sweets and stick-on crowns.
Support in the parade came from all kinds of companies, people, and places. The Queen’s marching band played a rousing version of the YMCA, all the while looking stone-faced straight ahead at the music clipped to the end of their instruments, whilst the Army roared up in a tank, followed by a crowed of people dressed in mildly disturbing leather outfits and covered in chains. I will not dwell on this.
Every time a new group, bearing whatever sign it was, the crowd would go crazy. Yelling and screaming and high-fiving and dancing like crazy. As well they should! What a wonderful day: watching all these hundreds of groups go past, openly declaring their support and spreading love for a cause and a community that is often the brunt of much hate.
We didn’t stay for all of the parade, as I had one of the worst experiences of my life, right there on the sidelines. (TW: I’m about to mention my period).
White denim skirt. Surprise visit from “Aunt Irma”. D I S A S T E R.
LUCKILY, my cousin had an enormous pride flag with her, which I fashioned into a kind of sarong whilst I ran through Topshop trying to find something black, and at leat knee-length.
Moral of the story is – always carry spare trousers??? Who even knew this was a thing??? I am kind of traumatised now.
Back to the original point of the post, which was pride.
Lately I have been binge-watching “Queer Eye”, which is a new show on Netflix. It focuses on 5 gay men (The “Fab 5”- they are, indeed, fabulous), and their mission to give a spiritual, physical, and mental makeover to someone nominated for their love of jorts (jean-shorts), terrible facial hair, or inability to move out of their parent’s house. It’s possibly the most cute, wonderful, funny, and uplifting I have ever had my eyes and ears blessed by. Seriously. I have cried so many happy tears watching that show. So pride, and gay culture in general, has been on my mind recently.
Queer Eye isn’t just about the makeover, though. The guys talk in depth about their experiences with coming out, being openly gay, being religious, and talking to family members etc. It’s a very interesting, honest, and sometimes heart-breaking insight into this way of life.
One of their (the “Fab 5”)’s main points they make in the show, is to reinforce the idea that love is love, no matter what form it takes.
There are so many different types of love, and ways to love, and I’m slowly having my eyes opened up to them, in one way or another.
So what I wanted to say, that after all this, going to pride myself and being in that wonderful, accepting atmosphere, is that I felt nothing but oodles of love on that day, emanating from every single person at the event.
Love is love, people, and I think we, as a whole, need to start saying it like a mantra!
Love is love, no matter what form it takes. Why bully others for being loving, when love is the substance of life?
On that note, I shall depart.
All my love, to you, specifically you reading this,