Pride events have been happening in the UK since the 70s, with new ones currently popping up every year. But have they lost their original meaning? Are they now just about getting drunk and partying?
I think so.
For me Pride events are essential. They provide an opportunity for the LGBT community to be visible and show the world that they exist in many forms. However I do feel that over the years the original meaning of Pride has been lost. When the first Prides started taking place all those years ago it was a human rights and political movement aimed at showing we exist and want the same rights and freedoms as everyone else. Cut to 2013 and it seems to be a big party and the activism slant appears to now be a small part of the wider occasion, certainly from the Pride events that I have been to. They are now huge commercial events and people only seem interested in what performers there will be and which club to go to in the evening. It really saddens me because I believe there is so much more to Pride.
This year I went to Birmingham Pride with the LGBTQ youth support charity that I run. We marched in the Pride parade with placards referencing comments made by MP’s in the marriage equality debate. It was slightly tongue in cheek but the meaning was clear. It was about politics and the rights of LGBT people. It was a protest. It was also probably the best Pride experience I have had. I felt like I was spreading an important message and doing my bit for our rights and freedoms. Admittedly I did then party a bit and watched the Cheeky Girls (to my slight embarrassment I am a huge fan), but the day wasn’t all about the party.
With all of those things in mind, I began setting about organising my county’s first ever Pride event, Warwickshire Pride. There’s a growing buzz around it and many people are asking who will be performing (Chica Latina from Britain’s Got Talent if you must know), but the emphasis of this Pride is on celebrating diversity and highlighting what Pride events were originally about. The strap line for Warwickshire Pride is ‘celebrating diversity in the community’ and that’s what it’s all about; bringing people from different communities together and demonstrating the struggle that LGBT people have had whilst also showing the massive progress there has been. Yes, there will be performers and entertainment through the day. Yes there will be a huge after-party when the sun sets. But Warwickshire Pride will primarily be a peaceful protest with a message.
Warwickshire lags behind many parts of the country, with much homophobia and opposition to the progression of our rights (I’ve personally been beaten, abused and barred from a pub for being gay), so perhaps that is a reason why I feel the need for this Pride to have a big element of activism as part of it, but I truly feel that it is an element that Prides up and down the country would benefit from introducing more of.
Pride started off as a protest. It still should be.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.