Thoughts on Pride

Browse By

Gay Pride: parades, rainbows, glitter, face paint, and music. But Gay Pride is deeper than the festivities, and as we reach the end of Pride Month 2018, I think it’s important to reflect on why we celebrate it, and what it means for our modern day community.

The term ‘Gay Pride’ was coined soon after what has been arguably the most influential gay rights protest in history: the Stonewall riots. In the early hours of the morning of the 28 June 1969, the 200 or so patrons of the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan couldn’t have predicted the repercussions of the following events. At this time, police raids on illegal gay bars were regular occurrences. Any patron suspected of illicit homosexual behaviour was arrested, along with bar staff, but when eight police officers arrived at Stonewall Inn, the people inside retaliated and a crowd of more than 100 people gathered around the Inn. A fight broke out between the police and the crowd who tried to overturn the police wagons, hurled bricks and tried to batter down the door of the Inn where officers had taken shelter. Although police backup eventually arrived, news of this resistance spread fast throughout Manhattan. A statement had been made: The gay community would not be treated as inferior without a fight.

In the years following the riots, the gay rights movement gradually gained impetus and grew in the public eye. However, even today there are people who question the necessity of Pride. They ask ‘why do we need a gay Pride?’ or ‘Straight people don’t have straight Pride’. So now that gay people in this country have the same rights as straight people, why is Pride still relevant? The answer is a simple one. Support. The gay community in Britain still faces discrimination. A recent study found that a shockingly high 80% have faced a hate crime in the UK. For those of a lesser known sexuality, pansexuality for example, the figure rises to 90%. Not only does pride offer support to the LGBT community, it also offers a chance to be educated on the diverse range of sexualities and gender identities.

Despite this, the message at the heart of Pride is not solely that of accepting gay people, or any other sexuality for that matter. It is about equality between people from all walks of life. A few days ago it was the two year commemoration of the Pulse attack in Orlando, which served as a stark reminder of what can happen in the extremes of homophobia. Now, more than ever, we need to come together as a community, and whilst Pride Month is about celebrating all sexualities and gender identities, it is also a celebration of people. Everyone is different, and recognising and accepting this uniqueness is what underpins Pride. It is about equality. Pride celebrates life and love in all its forms, which are both confusing and unpredictable at the best of times. As Stephen Fry says, we must ‘love in all eight tones and all five semitones of the word’s full octave’. I think that only recently has the scope of love’s ‘octave’ become apparent, and now we need to listen as hard as possible to ourselves and to the world around us. You wouldn’t treat someone as inferior because they prefer Mozart to Beethoven, so why should you treat the gay community any differently than everyone else? Fundamentally, and perhaps most importantly, Pride promotes the message of self-confidence and acceptance, something it is very easy to overlook in this age of social media and selfie-sharing. People are encouraged to love who they are, which is a pretty amazing consequence of one police raid on one small pub.