I have fond memories of the London Pride events that I attended in my late 20’s. It was a period where I was coming to terms with being gay, and there was something really comforting about walking in a parade or dancing in a park, with hundreds of other same gender loving people.
A few months ago, feeling a bit nostalgic about how I had experienced those early Pride events, I decided to sign up to be a volunteer at World Pride, which is due to take place in London on Saturday 7th July. I have fond memories of being a volunteer at the ’96 London Pride, and this time with it being World Pride, I felt it was a great opportunity to stand in pride, on a global scale, with many others.
I guess being a Pride volunteer was not high up on my priority list, because a few weeks ago, I realized that I had double booked myself on 7th July, and in fact would not be around for the big show! I felt gutted, but my hands were tied and my plans could not be changed….
Earlier this week, there was news going round saying that World Pride was in trouble, with uncertainly about what the day would look like. I subsequently received a confirmation email from the Pride Board which said,
“We can confirm that due to the tough economic climate we are all facing at the moment we have been left with a shortfall in the funds required to deliver the event…”
The shortfall means that the Pride events will now be scaled down “and returning to the roots of the original Pride London rallies”. The parade would still take place; albeit without the usual colourful floats. On that point, the Pride Board say,
‘The parade has always been about standing up for LGBT rights, but this year more than ever we see the need to fight for our rights not just globally but here in London. More so than ever we need to come together as a community and show London and the world what it means to march for LGBT rights’.
‘Returning to the roots of the original Pride London rallies’, now that does feel like a good reason to celebrate and stand tall with pride. After all, many have continually said over the past decade – perhaps longer – that Pride had become extremely commercial and seen by many as an excuse to get drunk and lose oneself in reckless abandonment. Many of my friends no longer attend Pride events. With some feeling that the atmosphere of Pride is soulless, and others seeing it as a relic from the past, which is no longer relevant.
So perhaps the rescaled Pride events is a blessing in disguise. For it’s an opportunity for many of us to pause and start to redefine what Pride means today. And maybe, just maybe, start to recapture the essence of those Pride parades from yesteryears; which was all about self-affirmation and self-validation.
Yes, I am still feeling nostalgic…..