I could see my entire life flash before my eyes, like one big gay pride parade!Yesterday was Pride London, and I worked up the courage to go up there and spend what seemed the hottest day of the year (in oh so many ways) gaying it up and being vaguely political, in the best traditions of hipsters everywhere. Unfortunately, unlike last year, I wasn't able to take pictures of the parade because I was in the parade, and I wasn't able to take photos of cute guys because I was too busy flirting with them. Fun for me, not so much use for a blog post. Nonetheless.
I showed up a bit early, and inveigled my way into tagging along with LGBT Labour. This got me a bright red T-shirt, a brief handshake with Oona King (she's awesome, by the way, and would make a great mayor), and a three-hour stroll through central London with a bunch of fellow lefties and a small dog named Jacqueline Kennedy (a political animal, if you like). Incidentally, only amongst a group of gay men would you get the question 'Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, or just Jacqueline Kennedy?'.
Needless to say, the Labour people were muchly awesome, and I spent the parade handing out 'Never Kissed A Tory' stickers, which proved massively popular ('People of London! Accessorise those limp wrists! Socialists are cuter!'). I got my photo taken by the same gay Jedi as last year, who recognised me (the elbow-length stripy gloves stand out). Apparently I'm on Youtube somewhere from last time, but damned if I can find it. Just one step closer to internet celebrity. Part way through, I also got a cameraman following me around, so maybe I'm on the Belgian nightly news or something. I did learn that there are very few things in life that can be so irritating as a professional camera crew. 'Sorry, could you do that last bit again, only slower?' - which reminds me of a story from the war correspondent Edward Behr's excellent but disturbing memoirs, Anyone Here Been Raped and Speak English?, about a camera crew getting an Algerian firing squad to wait until the sound engineer was ready before shooting.
Anyway, we moved on, getting entangled in groups of rollerblading lesbians and drag queens, until the whole thing ground to a halt, again, because of these guys. Same slogans as last year, even the same signs, but some of my fellow sodomites must've tried remonstrating with them, because it took the police a while to cordon off the fundamentalists. I blew them a kiss again, but with a wall of police between us I couldn't get any closer than that. I didn't even hear any of what the guy with the megaphone was saying, on account of him being drowned out by applause and whistles for the parade.
Incidentally, and brilliantly, I found their sort of after-action report from last year on the interwebs.
Sizeable groups of enraged sodomites were allowed to get very close and scream their curses and threats, as well as making filthy gestures. A repeated tactic was for sodomites and lesbians to stand in front of the preachers and engage in prolonged kissing. The only reaction from the police was to snigger. The final straw was when a sodomite exposed his rear and a policeman standing a few yards away just grinned. I remonstrated with the said policeman who pretended he hadn't seen anything. I pointed out the culprit but nothing was done.Quite apart from my making 'filthy gestures'*, I do appreciate the Met sometimes. Some of their officers were marching too, of course, and looking fantastic.
Anyway, I kept on going, doling out stickers to all and sundry (best response: 'honey, you can stick one on me any time you want'), and getting thoroughly exhausted from a combination of dehydration, heat, and skinny jeans cutting off all the circulation to my legs, but damned if I didn't look good. As my inimitable friend Maggie notes, 'Gay rights: making it okay for guys to do to themselves what women have been forced to do for ages'.
I didn't stick around for the main stage or the street party in Soho afterwards, mostly on account of being pretty much dead on my feet, but I did manage to get a couple more pictures before heading back to the boring, boring suburbs:
All in all, it was a fun day out. I'm proud of myself for making the effort to get up there, at least. It got me to thinking about politics, too. For the moment at least, I'm with Labour. They might be nigh-on useless at everything else, but they've been pretty consistently good on LGBT rights in government. Call me a single-issue voter, but there it is. Especially given that your alternatives are the various Trot factions all fighting amongst themselves, or the distinct uncertainty of the Lib Dems.
It strikes me sometimes that I'm not really built for modern gayness. In a lot of ways, I feel like I can identify more with the sort of Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward type of thing, back when homosexuality was still mysterious, sexy and dangerous. Then again, that's almost certainly vanity on my part - it's not like I had to live with it. And for all its myriad faults, pride is still A Good Thing. It might've turned from a protest into a party, and the modern gay scene can be supremely stupid in its own way (body fascism, political complacency, awful music), but the legacy of what the GLF did back in the day was to bring homosexuality into the light of day, and if the tradeoff to having to listen to broken hard-drive sound techno is drag queens in corsets and kinky boots marching through central London and royally pissing off moralising, fascistic cunts like the Zion Tabernacle, then that's a trade worth keeping, and being proud of.
* I've long believed that homosexuality is only filthy if you're doing it right.