What. A. Week.
It has been a whirlwind of emotion, activism, powerful statistics and lots of research. And a panel where me and two other friends decided to come out to 130 people at once via a video link and talk about our personal stories of being LGBTQ+. Stories that we rarely tell a lot of friends, let alone everyone else. But it’s go big or go home, right?
On a non COVID-day (now a distant memory) I would be celebrating Pride all summer long beginning in May with the Eurovision song contest. Me and my LGBTQ+ friends would get together in someone’s house, bust out the vodka shots and get excited about the explosion of camp that would be about to ensue. We would once again be celebrating “Gay Christmas” amongst ourselves, in a community that is accepting of differences, that is loving and supportive in a world that has rejected, judged and hurt many of us.
Come June I would start gearing up for London Pride and waking up from a dreamy sleep of “just living” to actually noticing more LGBTQ+ posts on Instagram, Facebook and in other media, to consciously thinking about what Pride means to me, to some forms of activism and allyship with other facets of the LGBTQ+ community. Then London Pride would happen in a messy blur of hugging, glitter, Unicorn horns, dancing and pure unfiltered joy and acceptance. And then Summer would pass, the Prides would be over, the glitter would be swept away, and we’d go back to moaning again about how cold it was.
This year is different.
This year I have celebrated Pride with a ferocious effort every single day not just because I chose to, but because I had to. I was rejected by my family for being bisexual. I refused to let it break me like it did when I was 16 when I pretended it was “just a phase” so that my family would accept me. Instead, I owned my queerness. I joined a Women’s LGBTQ+ group through an LGBTQ+ charity in King’s Cross called London Friend, to see if there are any other women who have gone through similar experiences, to learn and to talk. To say that the group had given me some perspective would be an understatement. These women – some of them married to their husbands and still in the closet, some of them in their 50’s and only just coming out, some of them with trauma from past experiences of abuse for being LGBTQ+ – have humbled me. They also inspired me to think that perhaps I can help other people who have been through similar experiences to mine. And so, the activism part in me grew culminating with the BLM protests and this Pride Week 2020.
I think there is a huge emphasis on the trans community and their rights, which not only aren’t getting any better, they are being taken away from them. Trans people – similarly to bisexuals – DO exist. They are very much part of our community and deserve the same human rights as everyone else. The fact that they face discrimination and potentially physical assault just for going to a public bathroom is insane to me. This Pride Week I have immersed myself in learning more about trans rights, watching “Disclosure” and “the Life & Death of Marsha P. Johnson” on Netflix (which made me pour my eyes out), and ordered some books online to read more on this subject. Social distancing allowing, I will also be attending the Trans Pride in London on 12th September.
I am devo that Pride in London has been cancelled. This year was also going to be my first BAME Pride in support of the Black Lives Matter movement which I have allied myself with over the past year or so. But instead of sitting at home, listening to Diana Ross and crying to my vodka, lime and soda I have decided I’m going to go to London with my LGBTQ+ friends on a socially distancing trip, so that we can all miss Pride TOGETHER, listen to Diana Ross and drink vodka, lime and soda. Because that’s what my family does.
I think in order to Celebrate Pride we need to celebrate ourselves. Pride happens in all of us when we open our hearts and our minds to human differences. How boring our world would be if we were all the same skin colour, heterosexual and never did anything out of the “ordinary”! Pleasantville much?
So, to all my LGBTQ+ friends (including you too, Allies), dig out your most flamboyant clobber, steal your opposite sex partners’ outfits if you’re feeling fruity and let’s celebrate being Out and Proud this weekend because there may not be a rave up in Soho (I checked) but Pride has definitely NOT been cancelled.
Weronika Marcinek, Operations Specialist