My Pride, Your Pride. Do We Still Need Pride?

OPINION

Latest posts by Pliny Soocoormanee (see all)

This year marks the 46th Pride parade in London.
Over 26,000 of us are expected to attend, so of course, London will grind(r) to a halt!

What a change. Gone are the days of capital punishment, criminalisation and Section 28. Now we have equality of the age of consent, same-sex marriage and Lesbian mothers are no longer losing custody of their children solely on the basis of their sexual orientation. The brave activists of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) who organised the first Pride in 1972 could not have imagined so much progress in such a short space of time. In the UK at least, LGBT+ rights and public attitudes towards LGBT+ people have been transformed.

So why is it still important to be at Pride?

I hear so many voices around me complaining: –

“There is no need for Pride, the battle is won”

“Pride has become too commercialised”

“It is a corporate takeover”

“Pride is just a street party, not a protest movement”

“It’s all about getting drunk and having sex”

There’s no denying the truth in some of the criticism. In its origins, Pride was a protest against injustice.  An affirmation of our right to exist as lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT+). It is ‘THE’ public action stating that we are visible and PROUD of ourselves. “Gay is Good” was, and still is, heard loud and clear on the streets of our capital city. “Gay is Good” also echoes around the world, reaching places where the basic human rights of LGBT+ people are under siege from violent regimes. Pride affirms our shared rights. Pride IS still a protest.

Being at Pride is also a very personal experience. It touches your being. It is a statement of personal liberation, while joining you to a community. It’s empowering. One learns to take PRIDE in who they are.

Pliny Soocoormanee

Every year, it is somebody’s first Pride. For everyone this is a truly special moment. Especially when you have just come out of the closet. It brings an extra sense of elation and freedom when you are marching together, affirming your sexuality and being proud of it.  This is a moment to be cherished, a moment to celebrate freedom, love and our diversity and similarity. 

It is a collective experience, because every one of us owns Pride. All of us make it special. True, there are fewer people these days carrying banners demanding change, a better society, social progress, or fair access to healthcare. Many of us never question our personal liberation. However true liberation is only achieved when all members of the LGBT+ community can feel free to be who they are. Still today, so many people are not able to be themselves.

Just being sexually non-conforming is a challenge. It is far more difficult if your very existence is threatened by a society that declares you illegal, actively oppresses you and hunts you down for just being you. I have met people from Iran, Uganda, Nigeria and Russia whose personal stories of persecution, pain, hope and fear are heart-breaking. It is important to note that Lesbians are doubly oppressed as women and as lesbians particularly in countries with no respect for human rights.

The recent reports of state-sponsored torture and murder of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya have touched many of us. They have been through hell just because they love someone of the same sex. To remain indifferent to such a barbaric situation puts us on the side of the oppressor — the brutal Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov — who claims that gay people do not exist.

This year, I will be marching in solidarity with the LGBT+ people of Chechnya, with the Peter Tatchell Foundation.  We must speak out against this. We must demand a STOP to this injustice and show the people being persecuted in Chechnya that they have not been forgotten. Their pain, their struggle is our struggle too.

This is why I will march. For the many still struggling with their sexuality. For those who cannot be open about their sexuality. Above all, for those in Chechnya who cannot come out and march. I hope that my presence, Our Presence, will bring hope to their hearts. A better world is possible.

As the great gay campaigner Harvey Milk once said:

“You cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living.”

Participating in Pride is about making a stand.

Making a difference.

Daring to dream of a better tomorrow.

Let’s make it happen!

 


Pliny Soocoormanee is Executive Assistant the Peter Tatchell Foundation working for LGBT and human rights. For all updates, follow him on Twitter @Allequal1

18 Comments

  1. Always useful to be reminded why Pride is so important. As well as an opportunity to enjoy ourselves, it is a great show of solidarity with LGBTcommunites abroad and suffering extreme oppression.

  2. A really interesting and accurate look at the relevance of pride in today’s society. Shows the continued need for visibility, and celebration of our rights and progress especially considering the events in Chechnya and other places where the basic right to be yourself does not exist! Solidarity with our LGBT allies is more important than ever!! Keep up the good work!!

  3. This is an absolutely fabulous article – beautifully and thoughtfully written: both gentle and powerful: I was genuinely moved by it. Thank you, Pliny.

  4. Such a beautifully written and moving article reminding us of the continued relevance of Pride in the world today. Well done Pliny x

  5. Great article and well thought written, my heart and thought are with those around the world and even in this country who are being discriminated just because of their sexuality. Well done Pliny !
    “Always Be Pride”

  6. I’m so glad that you have written this, Pliny. It’s good to see someone who still sees Pride as a protest, as well as a celebration…and, yes, it will give hope to other LGBT+ people in countries that have repressive laws. I’m pleased that there will be contingents on the march with this message.

  7. thanks Pliny. you’ve reminded me of when I marched for the first time and felt really proud of being gay (for the first time). When – after having recently split up from a long term partner – I arranged to meet my friends at Pride but lost them, and walked on my own and felt brave. And walking with Peter Tatchell and you a few years ago I had a clear sense that there is still much to fight for – even in the UK outside the urban and London bubbles, and LGBTI rights are not a given and will wither as much of liberal thinking has in the last few years if we are not visible voting and influential in public debate and the economy. Patrick

  8. Reading this article resonates so much in the values of myself and I’m sure many many others.
    It’s difficult and frustrating as a gay man in his early fourties to see in 2017 that the UK is progressing in part to be more welcoming in liberal attitudes and ever so more in gay people lives and values, yet the blind eye is apparent in so many of us as we hear of the torture and harshness that others receive across our world. Change only happens when we all as a collective educate well and understand the demographic to get our point across. The prides in the park are my second point as this was once a coming together of people to show gay lives mattered but this parade has now become so commercialised as are the prides of the future (UK Brighton pride) and many global prides.

    It’s great that we are becoming like a fun Sydney Mardi Gras but we definately do need to not lose track of where we are and who we live amongst.

    I shall be amongst the Parade in London on Saturday 8th July having a fantastic time!

    XX

  9. Taken with Peter Tatchell’s trenchant criticisms of Westminster City Council’s policy of charging as much for Pride as it can get away with, in contrast to other public and political marches which are a cost to the public purse, Pliny helps focus minds on the real importance of not taking for granted any liberty we have fought hard to acquire. The struggle is not over and with the gay-hating DUP shoring up this tattered tory minority government extra vigilance remains very necessary.

  10. What a grear article, we march at Pride in solidarity with all LGBT people worldwide who don’t have equality yet! And we will continue to March and protest until they do! Well done Pliny a beautifully written piece, reminding us all of the importance of attending Pride! See you there tomorrow!

  11. You don’t have to travel very far to find the great need for PRIDE on our own home turf, namely Northern Ireland and its DUP! Against gay marriage or Civil Partnerships

Leave a Comment