LGBTQ+ in May

I sometimes think that everything is sorted and well.  There now is no need to campaign for equality or to even celebrate what has been achieved because, well, everything is equal, nice, and everyone is open minded, respectful and gets along with each other, right?  This is not the case.

During the latter event I am going to describe in this blog post, of which by the way, was fabulous, I had the tiniest of problems just after but something which affected me, personally.  I was walking through a park wearing some tight lycra rainbow trousers and a group lads decided to shout something homophobic.  I am writing this a few weeks on so I cannot even remember what was said.  I may not remember the exact details but I do remember how it made me feel.  I was going to shout something back but I felt intimidated as it was dark, no one else was about, and there were more of them than there were of me.  It could have been one rotten egg but I imagine a group that has an egg like that in is likely to be a contaminated carton full of 6 tainted blobs from a chicken’s hole.  I am being disrespectful to chickens, for even bringing them into it.  I am sorry to the chickens.

A small example here but something which reminded me that attitudes still need changing.  It reminds me that LGBTQ+ people get verbally and physically assaulted all too often.  Although many attitudes have changed and now even homosexuals can get married and adopt, there is still a rampant bigotry amongst some.  People can not be who they want to be in every aspect of their life because there is still discrimination.  On a wider scale, some countries are still bringing in new laws against homosexual acts.  The most recent case was that of Brunei who decided to call for the death penalty.  Brunei joins Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan as some of the countries who have this punishment.

I have a voice and I need to use it.  And I shall.  Being loud and proud makes LGBTQ+ issues forced to the forefront of conversation and topic.  It is not something that can be hidden away and whispered about and then forgotten about.  For me, Pride events are an opportunity to campaign for changes, to celebrate being gay and queer, and to importantly remember the enormous fights that came before us to get us where we are today.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, an event which was the force of momentum of the LGBTQ+ rights movement.  In the 1960s, The New York Police Department would enter the Stonewall Inn on a regular basis, raid it and arrest some people.  The Stonewall Inn was a known gay establishment where people, young and old, would come and be themselves – some in full drag.  In a raid of the early hours of Saturday 28th June 1969, the people had enough and decided to rise up against the police.  It is cited that when arrested, Stormé complained about tight handcuffs and was then subsequently beaten by the police.  In response she fought back and called the crowds to help of which they did.  Riots erupted.  The one year anniversary from this saw marches organised across America and they have spread the world over and continued ever since.

I took part in my first Pride celebration of the year in Northampton.  But firstly, the day before, on May 17th,  I attended the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia at the Guildhall in Northampton.  Walking around the corner, I was greeted by the Union flag flying next to the Gay flag.

It was lovely seeing those rainbow colours.  Just before 11am we gathered in the square and heard a few words from a community organiser and then the Mayor.  We were reminded about the need to remember those that have suffered and struggled before us and that there is still a lot of work to be done.

I joined Ben King from UNISON Northants County branch and we had a stool in one of the rooms.  We networked with some members of the county council and members of the community.

The next day was Northampton Pride.  This was the aforementioned event which was, as I alluded to above, brilliant.

Again with Ben, we held a UNISON stall.  I was blown away at the number of people that attended the event.  It was delightful seeing young and old, families, homosexuals and straight allies enjoying the event.  There was a stage with performances on during the afternoon and a gathering of stalls.  We got plenty of interest at ours.

Here are some photos:

After Pride, we went into The Boston for an after party. It was one of the first Prides that Northampton has put on. Last year, in a pub, there was a link up with Northampton over in the United States and they tried some bits a few years ago.  Northamptonshire has a very relatively small outwardly gay scene. Considering it is located so close to London, this is crazy. Hopefully this is the start of more to come for Northampton.  Maybe even a parade next year?

Also, I shall note here my domination of the news headlines.  Ok, I jest.  But I was on BBC Radio Northampton and I did manage to shape the news headlines but describing the event as having a “real buzz”.

And then the following Saturday, the 25th, I got the train up to Birmingham Pride.  I only stayed for the day and watched the enormous Pride Parade.  It lasted for two hours.  Huge!  The weather makes all the difference and the sun shone down.  It was a loud, and proud celebration.  This was especially poignant in a city which has faced many protests about LGBTQ+ education in primary schools.

Selfie

Here are some photos. On a side note, I wanted to talk about this.  I started off seeing a statue to remember those injured or killed in knife crime. Usually pieces of art don’t have much of an effect on me, but this really did. If you get the chance, go and see it in person.

 

Seb and I walked along towards the mass of people looking for the stalls.  There were none.  We walked further along and were told we were allowed no further.  It was wristband only event.  It was being headlined by Years and Years and there were numerous others there too.  I enjoy music but I am not one to seek seeing someone live.  I wanted to sit in the pubs and peruse the stalls but was restricted from entry.  It was a shame.  Maybe they could consider having a music venue as something separate.  I believe at Manchester Pride this year they are having the stage away from the Gay Village in order to not exclude the very people they are trying to attract.  Maybe Birmingham should think about that too?

This post states what I got up to in May.  The month of June is noted as Pride Month so there are many more opportunities to march and join Pride events.  Please do.

 

Speak soon,

Samuel. x

 

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