So, this Pride I’m a little grumpy. Can I say that? Is that allowed? Or is someone going to come and confiscate my glitters? NO RAINBOW FOR YOU – BACK IN THE CLOSET, NAYSAYER. For one thing, every brand is jumping on the pride bandwagon to flog its wares. From Volvo (“Drive with pride”) to the Body Shop (shining a light through different coloured shower gels to create a rainbow. Caption: “let your true colours shine,”) everyone wants in on #pride – but without showing any actual gay stuff like kissing or holding hands or bumming in the back of a Volvo.
Then, there was the conversation I had with a friend recently who said:
“Pride isn’t really an LGBT thing anymore, is it? It’s about accepting everyone.”
Woah. WOAH. What? No, no it isn’t. I mean, yes, obviously we should accept everyone but Pride is not about celebrating love and acceptance in general. It’s not a catch-all for celebrating every difference or quirk or diversion from the norm. It is a movement to demand gay, bisexual and trans rights everywhere. It is an advertisement to people around the world who are in the closet: we’re here, we care – come join us. And it is a day to make visible people who love people of the same sex or who identify as a different gender.
The importance of Pride as a spotlight on LGBT+ people cannot be underestimated. As a gay woman, I yearn to see the stories and experiences of other gay or bisexual women. I am hungry for them. And not just characters in a book or a TV show or a film – real people. When I’m reading an article about relationships or love or dating, I’m looking to see if the author’s into men or women or both. When I read interviews with new celebrities, I sprint through the words looking for boyfriends or girlfriends or ambiguity in references to their love life.
Pride is so special for LGBT+ people because it is one place where we finally get the visibility we crave. Seeing so many queer women together is a genuinely emotional experience for me. I cry every year because it feels so amazing to finally be in the majority, to see yourself reflected back at you from every angle. I am no longer the only gay women at the meeting or the dinner table or the wedding – I am one of thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands. I feel like I finally belong.
Cloaking Pride in a generic blanket of acceptance and goodwill means inadvertently putting LGBT+ people back in the shadows. It means taking away the one day when we are the headline, the heroine, the story and the star. It means women like me tumbling back into a fug of obscurity. Yes, it feels great to be accepted – but I also want to be seen.
So let’s all share in this special time together, with glitter and rainbows and multi-coloured shower gel, if you must. But let’s also not forget, this is a day for LGBT+ people to feel that vital sense of community, identity, kinship and closeness they so rarely feel on the other 364 days of the year. It’s our day to break out from the fringes, to go mainstream and to boldly take centre stage – with pride.
Happy Pride 2018.