It’s that time of year again, when the town seems to go a little crazy. This year saw the 25th anniversary of the event and, having attended a few over the years, I can say that its popularity hasn’t dwindled.
I was working today until 2pm, so I was due to miss the parade. So I was rather upstaged by my 84-year-old Dad who had popped out to see the opening of festivities earlier. Due to delay, caused by a bomb scare, he had to leave early, but it meant that I managed to see the back end of the parade later.
I have been a little surprised by the antipathy that a few folk have towards the event, so with this in mind have set out here to offer my views on the various opinions that seem to be offered up in this camp (excuse the pun). I respect people’s views and prefer to offer a measured response rather than confront them, so below is my response to the most common of negative responses I seem to hear:
It’s a coarse display of vulgarity
Largely depends whether a person sees this in isolation or not. The parade is watched by thousands of people from all walks of life. There are a few isolated cases of displays of attire (or non attire) that may be questionable for something that is increasingly billed as a family event. I’m not so keen on that, not because I am personally offended-I’m not, but because it may seem inappropriate.
However, the number of people on the day who create their image in this way probably numbers less than one percent. So it would smack of agenda to promote this as the whole. It, for me, is not really much of an issue, and, even if folk don’t like it, most are able to see the whole picture rather than a small pixel of its image.
Why don’t we have straight pride ?
At no stage have heterosexuals been a persecuted group within society, and they will always form almost the entire majority of it. So such a celebration would be designed to counter and marginalize.
Those who say such things fail to understand the origins of the event, which I will deal with in a more sympathetic view of another question, and the fact that so many gay people in the world, perhaps a majority, cannot express themselves in this way- and neither can heterosexuals be seen to support them.
Sometimes this view may come from a feeling of exclusion, but Pride should never exclude anyone, and for the most part it doesn’t.
Why do gay people have to shove it in our face ?
Well, they don’t. Not many of them anyway.
Whilst I don’t deny that there are some who seem to think that being gay is a full time occupation, most just live their lives like any other. Nobody inherits a liking for Kylie Minogue, Absolutely Fabulous and quiche (deliberate stereo-type)-it’s what they enjoy.
People’s lives develop in the way of nature, and to a degree conditioning. I would say that gay people are probably less conditioned than their heterosexual counterparts. It could be argued that a typical red-blooded male likes football and fast cars, and evidence produced to confirm this. It doesn’t matter either way.
There is no difference between a person who spends much of their time talking about football, and one who talks about things, which are parodied as ‘gay’.
As regards talking about their sexuality, most gay people don’t really dwell on it too much. But it seems that the ones that do are heralded as an example of the whole. They are not. But they may do this in rebellion of their upbringing, and often have more to fight for though. It’s better to understand than condemn.
Why do we need Pride at all ? aren’t we all equal ?
A sensible and well constructed question asked by many.
I did once express concern that what was once a festival of self-determination was in danger of becoming one of self-indulgence. This is not because I have a problem with the event itself, not at all, but because I see it as avenue to challenge prejudice and discrimination in all walks of life. When it starts to lose that, I start to lose my passion. Or perhaps it’s because I’m a middle-aged man who is incapable of revelling for an entire weekend…..
The fact that so many people ask the above question is a reflection of their own belief that we are all equal. So rather than scrambling their question and falsely calling ignorance, I would show admiration for their level headed take on things, and call on others to ensure the event is full reflection of the widened political message is originally set out to put across.
We do need Pride. We will always need Pride. But the celebration of sexuality, and the coming together of folk from all parts of society needs to have a political message that never fades in the enjoyment of the event.
All forms of prejudice exist, and all should be challenged. Pride can be a flagship for the courage of conviction.
I could talk more, and give deeper thoughts and insights, but I know people don’t want a dossier.
Now as regards Brighton Pride this year, I was so happy when I saw the collective spirit of happiness fused with so much colour this afternoon. So many folk, all very different in their own way, coming together to be as one. For different reasons perhaps, self-determination, indulgence, intrigue. Whatever it was, the town was a good place to be this afternoon, and long may it continue.
A few images below: