London Gay Pride 2017

This was my third time at London Pride, where I watched the parade and absorbed the atmosphere. It is a wonderful event. I think it is the ambience and the sprawling crowds. One is free to be how they want to be, to wear what want to wear and celebrate who they are. Wider society does not accept all which it should do and this gives an opportunity for society, well, the wider London vicinity, to accept everyone. This year’s motto was “Love Happens Here” and the weekend marked 50 years since Parliament voted to partially legalise homosexuality in England and Wales.

For the previous two years I have gone on my own, because I lack a gayship circle. I know a lot of gays and a lot of gays know me but not on the level which they’d accept an invitation to join me down in London. I was about to say “… of which I would have invited them to join me”. This would have been a lie as I invited almost every Tom, Dick and Harry. The idea of spontaneously accepting an invitation from a contact you do not know terribly well excites me. For most however, it does the complete opposite and this is sad, and it annoys me. You know who you are. Life is for living not for thinking about life or planning one’s life. So live now!

Anyway, the first year I went down on the Friday to attend Critical Mass, a cycling gathering with Tom, and then stayed the night at his house.  The next day, I cycled to central London to watch the parade.  Equipped with a bicycle, it was difficult to find a convenient place to stand and spectate.  And it meant there was a bit of difficulty if I wanted to lock my bicycle and go walking around. I did it a few times.

On the plus side, it meant I could go through the back streets, parallel to the parade and see the start, middle and end and quickly search for good viewing locations in between.  I used to have, and still have to a certain degree, a feeling of dread that someone will steal my bicycle if I lock it up.  This directly stems from having my bicycles stolen a few years ago.  Criminals don’t realise the impact they have; not only is there a financial harm from their actions, as well as a massive inconvenience but also a hugely psychological one. Nonetheless, for my first Pride experience I had a wonderful time.

I have decided to use this blog post to write in a bit of detail about last year’s events at Pride. I omitted from entering a contemporary blog post as I fell behind with everything due to the trauma of a bicycle incident which subsequently happened. So, back on Saturday 25th June 2016, I went down on the day with my bicycle to watch the parade. Again, the worry arose that someone would steal my locked bicycle and it inhibited me somewhat. I watched the parade and then messaged Lewis who I had spoken with on Grindr a few weeks previously. We had come up with a grand idea of meeting up on Pride. I messaged him but reckoned he would, like the rest of humanity, be a let down. It took a while and a few messages back and forth but he eventually told me to come and meet him and his friends in a Wetherspoons. Only ten minutes from where I stood with my bicycle, I hesitated as wondered what to do with it. Across the road, was a bicycle stand with one space left. The appeal of meeting someone new overrode the debilitating aforementioned worry. As I walked away I blew an imaginary kiss.

I looked around a packed pub and couldn’t see him. Of course, it so happened that on my way to the pub, my phone battery died. I surmised he had left or had not told me the truth. I expected a wild goose chase once I found a socket to charge my phone. Firstly, I looked thoroughly and suddenly saw him. I went over and introduced myself to him and his friends. They exceeded my expectations and I was so overjoyed. Long story short, I ended up staying in his hotel room. That began to alter the relationship I have with locking my bicycle up and it lightly tapped into my relationship with risk. Of course, there are evil people about, but this taught me that I needed to relax a little and certainly not let an opportunity pass because of what may or may not happen. I am a risk taker generally. This small example nodded in the direction of that.

So that was last year and this is now. I decided it was going to be a different set up. On Friday 7th July, I took the decision to leave my bicycle at home and got the train down to London and stayed in a hotel in Euston. On the way up, I took a nice mirror selfie.

My friend Seb came down in afternoon and we soon had a wonderful Lebanese on Edgware Road.

After a walk around Soho, and a few drinks later, Seb was feeling an early night but I was most certainly not.

The next day was due to be long. Regardless, I wanted to go out for a bit. I had a wine, or two, and Malibu and coke and headed out with my friend Max. Before we left, I went back to the room to see if we could drag Seb out. It was futile but there was a possibility.

We popped into a pub that Max’s friend manages and had a drink and then got the tube to Bank hoping to go to a cocktail bar which his friend’s friend manages.

We stood outside and found out that they had decided to go home early that night. Oh. It was an adventure nonetheless. I got to go out there. I wasn’t stuck in my own mind or communicating through tap, tap, tap on a screen as it is often easily the case with me. However, I was feeling a bit tired so I decided to soon head back. On the Uber app, I selected where we were, where we wanted to go and soon we were back at the hotel. This is so simple and so easy. On a side note, black cabs are special and I do use them but this quickness and simplicity triumphs. The Knowledge reins supreme, and I appreciate and value this method of transportation and its regulation it has but there does need to be some innovation.

The next morning I awoke, had breakfast and went to get ready. Before I decorated myself, I met Brandon who had joined us from Wellingborough. He initially planned to join the parade but due to a misalignment of organisation (cough), it never happened.

Seb and I met him a slightly along the route. As we arrived, it had already started and we walked to a position where there were not so many people although that wasn’t really anywhere. We stood there for hours and hours. The parade seemed to never stop. It was gigantic. There were so many people. The photos I have included below show some puppies, me and Seb posing, some possibly misfitting signs of patriotism, one of Brandon, me and Seb, also a bit of corporate sponsorship (which does forever seem to grow year on year), and then me in front of the Pride police car.

We walked down to Trafalgar Square to see a bit of the main action but by that time most of the day’s events were already over. We went back to the hotel and got a drink or two of wine.

Seb got the coach back to Derby and Brandon and I went out. The following photos show us on our night out; with me on the escalator (note: there are three photos because I look fabulous) and of course a little bit of cycling action. We then went to the aforementioned pub near the hotel, and then on to Heaven.

The next day, over in Vauxhall, Brandon and I attended Gay Black Pride. It was nice and sunny and relaxing. We listened to some lovely music but before that watched a “Best dog” competition. When they announced it on stage, I fully expected, after the flamboyancy and eccentricity of Pride, for this to be a “doggy” show. As in, men in skin tight latex or leather with tails and dog ears but no, it was simply a “best dog” competition. Strange. Whilst walking around the grounds, I bumped into Sandra from Gogglebox.

Whilst sat down enjoying the music, we got talking to Tyler. He prefers Ty. He was a really nice, talkative person and within no time, we were talking about everything you can imagine, and I soon posed for a photo with him. I thank Ty for being so open and chatty as social norms (whatever they are) do not normally permit this. I do generally have a faulty filter regarding social norms and as my t-shirt, worn on check-in, see above, shows “Normal people scare me”. In a randomly sparking in-depth conversation regard, he wasn’t normal and I liked that.

Perhaps he was drunk, and with me being me, was the perfect combination for the three of us to enter a wonderful dialogue.

In sum, I made this weekend special and so did the people I spent it with. From previous experiences, I knew it warranted more than a single day trip. I booked a hotel room for two nights which gave me a base. I could use this to leave my bags and shower as need be. On the Saturday, before we left, I was able to spend some time “gaying myself up”. I applied rainbow paint to my face and glitter in the my eyebrows and hair and I was in no rush to do so. It allowed me to be relaxed and be content. I’d like to specifically thank Max for his help when I booked the room.

It was a wonderful weekend.

Samuel x

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