One could be forgiven for thinking that June 2010 means just one thing – World Cup month. Aka, the best month of each set of four years. Which of course it is.
That man is crazy I can hear you cry, all those stupid fat men chanting and pretending to be hard. And yes, this being football there is not too much in the way of gayness to be found – unless you think of all the fit young men running around in shorts kissing each other. Oh and Ricky Martin once sang the theme tune to a World Cup (Cup of Life in 1998 I think) and Michael Laudrup running around naked in Hero – The Story of the 1986 World Cup.
And of course you would be right.
There isn't much 'gay' about the World Cup, and yes most football fans are nauseating fools. But then who cares. After all the World Cup is a celebration of nationhood and competition. However, this is not a column about the World Cup – too many words have already been wasted on that topic. June marks the start of another celebration - Pride – especially in London. But what does Pride mean to me?
I have to say that when I was younger, having first come out, it didn't mean a lot. It wasn't connected to me. I guess it was because I had achieved the end what I perceived to be my struggle; to come out and be accepted and loved by my friends. Before you come out it is easy to think that everything is perfect once you come out and the wider community doesn't matter. It is a selfish view, but wholly understandable.
Now I do see it differently. I see that Pride is about celebrating our diversity, who we are and what we have achieved – and most importantly how far there is to come.
Pride is a great time to remember that despite how glamorous and fun the gay media says gay life is, with all the TV programmes with gay characters and people coming out and the like – that not much has actually changed for many queer people in this country. There are still people facing persecution and people are still enduring their own personal struggle to come to terms with who they are and what they perceive the implications on their lives would be.
Pride is also important as it reflects the whole community, from disco bunnies and policemen, teenager to pensioner and the collective working to overcome discrimination, intolerance and oppression while celebrating the new openness that is becoming more and more available. Pride is the time to collectively celebrate our achievements over the years and to recommit ourselves to the fight that remains before us.
Looking at it from a World Cup perspective, Pride to me also reflects pride in England. We are very fortunate that this is a relatively progressive country that still (mostly) allows free speech and equality. For me, Pride is not an exclusively a gay and lesbian thing. It is for all people who want to stand up for who they are and what they believe in. That’s the beauty of it. It’s everybody’s party.
For example, I have to say that I like the element of Pride day that I really enjoy is watching kids running around enjoying a celebration. Kids tend to ask parents difficult questions in a innocent way. What is Pride for?, or What is Gay?, they may ask. A (good) parent is not likely to answer negatively in the middle of a party that the child is enjoying. That leaves a legacy, a great legacy.
So go out and celebrate your Pride in who you are, in whatever way you want to, and maybe hug a football fan too.
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