London Pride 2017
I have a confession to make, so lean in closer...
I have never been to a Pride in all my years on this earth.
I know right?
I thought (based on nothing but my own imagination) that it was mostly a load of people drinking, partying, wearing odd outfits and that's about it. I am the sort of girl that is in bed by 10pm most nights. I did not think that Pride was my sort of thing.
Earlier this year I became a Co-Chair of my company's UK LGBT employee network, and I vowed to ensure that I faithfully represented all sections of our community. Intersectionality is one of my passions. It seems a big word but if you aren't familiar, it basically means that being a lesbian can be difficult, because you have to deal with the discrimination both against women, and homosexuals. And a black lesbian has to deal with race as well. What if she is also from a disadvantaged background? Or an immigrant? Add another glass ceiling above her head.
Intersectionality for me is about recognizing that we all have had a taste of discrimination, and that some of us have more layers and hurdles and glass ceilings to break through than others. Once we recognize that, we then have to work to support each other and give space for voices that are marginalized even within our own community.
So this year, I decided to go to Pride. My company network was attending and marching in the London parade so I committed that I would go to. Fearing that all my previous assumptions would be right I was a little apprehensive - and I needn't have been.
Sure, I witnessed partying in the street and fabulous outfits - but I also saw a city brimming with Pride at it's own diverse history. I saw so many companies supporting Pride that I lost count. And for each one of those companies there are an untold number of LGBT employees who now feel a little bit better about working there, and perhaps a little safer to be their true selves. I saw LGBT+ brothers and sisters who were Muslim, Christian, and every flavor in between. Abled and disabled, every color of the rainbow and every level of economic background. For one glorious sunny day in central London we were all able to cast aside that which made us different and embrace that which made us similar - our queerness.
As we neared the end of the march I had a very intense moment of wonder. We were walking toward Trafalgar Square, the crowds were 20 deep and people where cheering, waving, high fiving us and even giving us hugs. Our group were waving our flags and marching with our heads held high and smiles nearly splitting our faces. I felt like a rock star! I looked to my left and saw my wife walking next to me, and reached for her hand. Together, we finished the march to sound of uproarious applause and I was struck by how different this present day was from that which I had imagined when I first came out nearly 20 years ago, when my imagined future was dark and lonely.
I'm still buzzing, and now I'm even more energised to educate people about our cause and fight for our rights wherever they are threatened. That's what Pride did for me - and I'll see you there next year!