I went to Pride for the first time when I was 18 and my two best friends at the time had just come out. We hopped on the train to Birmingham and it drizzled and we stayed in a hotel and danced all night and I never went to another Pride again until I joined the gang in Brighton last year for Carly Rae Jepfest.
Almost 10 years is a long time to avoid celebrating The Gays when you have been friends with people who form the LGBTQ community your whole adult life, but I have always felt like tagging along to Pride is a bit blowing the candles out on another kid’s birthday cake, y’know? Not every day encroach on gay spaces, some days let them have the room all to themselves.
The word “ally” is kind of gross to me, and I really only ever use it flippantly, but for the purpose of writing this let’s just roll with it. Being an ally, I think, is a delicate balancing act of using your relative privilege to advance the causes of those who have less, without crowding people out of their own fight, and that’s true of supporting any minority, not just the LGBTQ community. This year’s London Pride was criticised (rightfully) for the reductive, hetero-centering nature of its promotional material, which speaks to the deep part of me that feels like on Pride of all days, straight people should just shut up and stay home.
However, having broke the seal in Brighton last year, I no longer see my reasons for dodging Pride as valid. And even though it’s kind of boring that this is probably the seventh variation I’ve written on the same theme, I do think it’s important to keep reiterating that now more than ever we have to show who we are, pedestal what we value, speak out loud what we want from this world and say it with our chests.
It’s important to show up to Pride, or a protest against the horrific failings that led to the tragedy of Grenfell, or the Women’s March or a Black Lives Matter demonstration. It’s important to be one extra head in the count towards equality. It’s important to make an active, symbolic gesture to show your friends that you’re on their side and you have their back and we’re in this together. We don’t have to put our names to empty soundbites (or self-indulgent blog posts!) to prove to the world that our minority friends deserve their place in the sun. We can just stand alongside them, existing at the same time, letting them speak for themselves. Allies should be seen so that our oppressed brothers and sisters can be heard.
There is no right way to be gay or straight or cis or trans or black or white or male or female or whatever other myriad identities there are under the sun – as many identities as there are individual humans living and breathing. Consequently, there isn’t really a right way to be an ally either, but I’m doing my best to try and be a good one anyway. So count me in for Pride, and all the other occasions where a show of numbers amounts to more than just people dressing up and having fun. We’re all we’ve got, and we’ve got to keep each other moving forward.
Happy Pride, everyone. See you in Brighton.