Finding our spot along the streets of London, we waited for the parade to come our way. There’s a crazy guy with a megaphone, expelling the virtues of love between between a man and a woman over the evils of same-sex couples. The police are standing there, just in case.
The embittered tirades are drowned out, not with shouts and violence, but whistles. A few lads come rushing up the street blowing whistles and they’re so loud I can’t hear Crazy Man any more. It felt like the opening act, and the show was on its way.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, was at the head of the parade, indicating that the gay community was as essential to the running, operation and machinery of the capital as any other quarter. Turning the corner and coming into view afterwards was an explosion of colour and sound, as you would hope. One thing I did not expect was to actually feel quite moved.
Not only was it rewarding to see the British forces, the police, the NHS, teachers – institutions all, but the small sports groups, the disabled, the magnificent gay goths, the elder LGBT community… so many pockets of people that represent and make up gay life in London. I was a little overwhelmed.
This was a celebration of humanity as much as anything else. Among this celebration and spectacle was the handful of people parading under the banner of gay Muslims, along with the other religions. That’s when I think the Pride message hit home. I feel under no pressure from my friends or family to not be who I am. To march as a gay Muslim I thought was a very brave gesture, and I was proud of them.
I used to wonder what the point of Gay Pride was. When I was younger I actually believed that the world was changing so significantly that this wasn’t important. Why bang on about it? Surely getting dragged up to the nines, or for men to walk through a street in high heels or full bondage gear won’t win over the hearts of the masses?
As I have grown older I’ve realised that I don’t feel the need to win over the masses. I don’t have to conform. I have my beliefs, my way of doing things and my own life. A part of that life is about me having a sexual and romantic relationship with another man. I am also pretty lucky – some people don’t get that chance, or feel imprisoned in their own conceived idea of what is expected of them.
Gay Pride is just as important, and as it grows, new pockets of the gay community show themselves. With cultural diversity and strength in numbers. I don’t mean that like we’re all going to rise up and take over, but it’s to do with the fact that almost everyone knows someone who is gay, lesbian, or bi-sexual. Perhaps you could be talking to someone tomorrow that knows in their heart of hearts they are the wrong gender, or both genders, or perhaps a-sexual.