I spoke a lot about queerness last week, and I’m glad I did. Watching the parade this year, usage of the word ‘queer’ had exploded. Many more people appear to self-define as queer or are comfortable with it.
I didn’t take pictures this year, having reached a point of ‘seeing it all before’. Speaking of having seen it all before, the England World Cup match made for a strange mix of people afterwards. Having no interest in football and little tolerance for drunken crowds shout-singing ‘it’s coming home’, our little group stuck close to the main ‘cabaret’ style events in the famous gay district of Soho.
I recently watched Hannah Gadsby’s ‘Nanette’, which is a standup comedy act from an amazing and beautiful person. Someone who, when telling her jokes, understands the difference between “men” and “straight men” (because the era of broad-brush comedy is over, fyi).
Towards the beginning, she describes herself as not really fitting in with the ‘Mardi Gras’ crowd, which is something I’ve come to understand, being technically if not essentially British, as equivalent to the ‘Pride’ crowd. “Where do the ‘quiet gays’ go?” she asks. It’s a good point, as I’m not so much a ‘club scene’ gay (though I can drop it like it’s hot).
I’m not a ‘quiet gay’. I don’t agree with Hannah that the Pride flag is ‘six shouty colours stacked on top of one another’; the colours need to be shouty, we’re taking up our rightful space (#pridematters). I’m not loud either; but my problem lies with large, densely packed crowds.
I marched last year for the first time, rather than watched. Comparing the two experiences now, I’m confident that I’d rather march in future than watch it – if only because I would have more space for myself – and it’s a much happier, smilier experience that I can equate to running a marathon. The crowd support was fantastic. Last year, a protest group (read: hate group) were overrun by supporters who didn’t want the marchers to experience their hate – so overrun, in fact, that I didn’t see the protest group until people showed me BBC news images when I met up with them afterwards.
This year wasn’t so successful. The fact that a group of TERFs from a group called ‘Get the L Out’ had managed to break through to the front line of the parade to spout their ignorant hate speech is horrific. It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the struggles of trans people and at least appears selfish and fearful (and reminiscent of right-wing politics and arguments) and to me is a sign of worse kinds of protest ahead.
As I seem to be late to everything recently (cf. blog post tardiness), we missed seeing this shameful display. They took up position in front of the NHS, who were out in force and dotted through the parade, with cheerful choruses of ‘happy birthday’ and joyful chants of ‘NHS! NHS!’ to the 70 year old that must not be an indicator of it nearing the end of its life.
Stonewall’s boycott and Pride in London’s awareness that it is not inclusive enough of BAME communities without doing anything about it, is further evidence of the increasing fractiousness of the wider LGBT+ space. Divided we fall – or have we still not learned this crucial lesson yet? Listen to each other, and be okay with being wrong – then go brush up on your copy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, because we’re in one.
A while ago I was told (by a SWM) that things were much better for me (us gays) now. A survey by the Independent revealed that 69% of LGBT+ people are afraid to hold hands in public. I’m one of them. Nearly 40% had experienced a hate crime. They found that the average UK population has a life satisfaction score of 7.7 out of 10, but it’s 6.9 for L and G, 6.3 for B and 5.9 for P and A. It gets worse: 5.5 for a T woman or non-binary, 5.1 for a T man.
Of course, my SWM friend was surprised when I told him (and I’d had a fair bit of wine, so I definitely TOLD him!) just how wrong he was. Why is this still surprising? We must keep up our campaign of information, because the privileged just don’t see it. This applies for LGBT+ issues, it applies for black and minority ethnic issues, and it applies to feminist issues.
Acronym party (and you’re invited):
TERF = Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist
BAME = Black and Minority Ethnic
SWM = Straight White Man