So, Lancaster reached a milestone last year in that not only did we have a Pride Parade we also had an alternative Pride.
Pride is more than just the Parade, the Parade is important, I can’t explain exactly what it is that makes me so happy that we get to walk down the street and be acknowledged as ourselves but its certainly something that I feel lacking when I realise that I’m doing it at Pride.
However, there’s also something about walking past pubs and bars that have the rainbow flag hanging out of them that threw me and my friends out a decade or two ago and it’s the feeling that things have changed – that’s good. It’s less good when you overhear baby gays saying they got thrown out a day or two ago and the pubs and bars are rainbow-washing.
There’s this feeling that the Parade needs to be a good show and that if the Queers can’t do it then we need to hire in some people to Entertain the Straights, yes we need to get the money together to keep going but just like it sets my teeth on edge when Canal Street is used as a tourist destination the Pride Parade isn’t about Entertaining the Straights it’s about being Authentically Us.
Then there’s who gets included. I think that every aspect of the community that has the quiltbag involved in it (and that should be every aspect) should be allowed to be in the Parade. That includes the police. Because there are gay people in the police.
But we as the Quiltbag need to hold these organisations to account. If Barclays Bank aren’t hiring quiltbag members then they shouldn’t be in the Parade or advertising at other Pride venues.
If the Police are beating up gay guys in a town then that town’s Pride can’t let them in the Parade.
We are so grateful sometimes that ‘They’ are letting us be Queer on ‘Their’ streets that we forget to hold some of the people who want to march with us to a high standard. I get blown away myself by seeing all the rainbows in the windows and thinking that they really want us rather than they’re just virtue signalling. Pride isn’t about the headline acts, it’s about Us and we need to keep our feet on the ground and remember that.