Monday, 16 August 2010

What has happened to our Pride?
Washed away with innumerable litres of alcohol?
Pissed away along hedges posing as al fresco latrines?
Vomited up on pavements by people no longer sickened by the shame,
But maybe still with a desire to numb their lives?

Pride (but no prejudice) paraded with the expected flamboyance and camp.
Cheers for those who strip to golden muscled skins or sing our adopted anthems.
Cheers for the uniforms, real and not, more subdued applause for the quiet
March of those who tirelessly work for our individual health and well-being.
Are their messages lost in the text of their simple banners?

What message does Pride (but no prejudice) carry?
We celebrate our visibility for ourselves, and the thousands who are unaware we exist.
We shed emotional tears of Pride for ourselves; for those of us who have swum against the tide to reach safe water, and encourage those who have yet to leap from the safety nets to be brave.
We shed tears for those who cannot share our pride and feel what we feel.

But what do the newly aware now believe?
That the children waving their rainbow flags today will no longer return to school
And call somebody in the playground gay when they do not fit in?
That the thousands of gay and straight people at Pride (but no prejudice)
will love each other when they are sober, and not choose to piss on them from the pier?

Will Pride (but no prejudice) have given all of us the courage
to challenge years of oppression and fear?
Will we have been enriched by the cultural diversity within the gay community?
Or will we have simply shown that, like our straight peers, we lack the courage
To celebrate diversity and difference, to stand out from the crowd.

Are we proud of our ability to throw the biggest alcohol and drug fuelled party?
Are we happy that the only real beneficiaries of many Prides are the pubs and clubs?
Or is the reality that we simply go along with it because that is what is on offer?
Our chance to be in the majority, to be visible, to have protection in number,
And that really we do not want to be different. We just want to forget?

I want to celebrate. I want to be proud.
I want to recognise myself within a diverse gay community.
The emotion on the faces around me at the start of the parade suggests
That others feel as I feel, each of us with our own story and expectation of Pride.
The ability to ‘be’ with pride and without prejudice, and to share that emotion
and togetherness for at least one day is what keeps many of us coming year after year.

But the prejudice exists. From within.
When gay friends feel uncomfortable holding hands,
When there is no space left to sit and enjoy the atmosphere without being heavily fallen on by incapable drunks, or stepped on because there is no room left to pass.
When all afternoon is spent queuing for a toilet only to find it is out of order from overuse.
When you try to stave off the panic of being fenced in like cattle with little hope of escape.
When the press suggest that the clean up bill is unacceptable for a ‘gay’ event that is not gay,
Is it time to call time on Pride (but no prejudice) and re-evaluate?
Shouldn’t we celebrate diversity by offering diversity?

One of my lasting memories will be time spent in a small park on Sunday when we became
the audience in a spontaneous concert by a snazzily dressed singer and watched children
dance around a monument which currently has little significance for them.