Sunday, 31 July 2016
5 Thoughts On Pride
I've been away for a while, as my readers can probably tell from my lack of activity of late (sorry for that), and part of my holiday was going to Norwich Pride. This was my second time at Norwich Pride, having attended it last year, and I couldn't help but notice that a few things were different over what I saw during the 2015 event.
Things Got Bigger
Last years Norwich Pride was my first ever Pride event, and I was awed by the experience if so many different LGBT+ people coming together and celebrating the diversity and amazing strength of our community.
I'd never see so many LGBT+ people in one place together before and the experience was strangely profound, it made me realise that despite my partners and I, and even some of my friends being LGBT+ we were part of a larger community; that there were so many more people like us in the world.
This years event was so much bigger than the previous one though, to the point where the organisers had to change the plan to accommodate the increased attendance. The crowds were phenomenal, and the amount of people there wearing rainbows, waving various flags or carrying banners and signs was breathtaking.
At the time I was so in awe of the amount of people and the different parts of the community being represented that I didn't question why there was an increase in numbers. Perhaps it was the simple fact that the event had attracted more people from further afield, or that people who had attended previously brought friends and family along.
I can't help but feel it might be more than that though. Things have changed a lot over the last year alone for the LGBT+ community. More rights have been won, more prominent members of the LGBT+ community are speaking out on important issues, the general public are becoming more aware of our struggles and our victories, and we've suffered horrendous tragedies. Surely all of these things have made a difference to the LGBT+ community.
I believe that now, more than ever, people are coming out, people are embracing their identities, and most importantly, celebrating them. You only need to look at the global reaction to the horrendous crime that was committed upon our community in Orlando to see that people are coming together in the face of LGBT+ struggles to celebrate how amazing our community is.
I don't think that the increase in attendance at this particular event is by chance, or that it is a one off. Our community is strong, we are vocal and proud and we stand tall together to show that at each and every Pride event.
Rise of the Pansexuals
When we attended Norwich Pride last year my girlfriend was wearing her pansexual flag, and was one of only a handful at the event. She even had another person come up to her and start chatting to her because they too were pan and were glad to meet another person like them. There was also little to no merchandise aimed at the pansexual community at any of the stalls or traders.
This year was completely different. There were dozens of pansexual flags being worn, and people dressed in outfits in the colours. Stall were selling pan flags, necklaces, bracelets and other merchandise. It was a complete turnaround from the year before.
This change was also related to something else that I had noticed too, that there was much less of a presence from the bisexual community.
Where the year before there was huge amounts of people representing the bisexual community and very little of the pansexual community, this year it was switched.
Being a member of the pansexual community myself I know that pansexuals can often clash with members of the bisexual community, especially as pansexuality seems to be a relatively new subculture within the LGBT+ community.
From my own personal experiences I have found that people who consider themselves to be bisexual will often change their label to pansexual when they learn about that particular community. Myself, some of my friends, and even my partners all used to call ourselves bisexual because we were attracted to people of all genders. However, when we learnt of the term pansexual, and how it differs from bisexual, we all changed our labels.
It's possible that as people are becoming more aware of the pansexual handle that more and more bisexuals are moving from one community to the other, quite possibly as more people are becoming aware of gender diversity and that gender exists on a spectrum rather than a binary.
I can't help but feel that this shift in the numbers of bisexual and pansexual people is surely a good thing and shows that people's understanding and acceptance of gender variance is growing on a whole, and that more people are becoming accepting of people outside of the gender binary.
At last years event there was an individual who protesting the Pride march with a crucifix and shouting bible verse. Whilst he was back again, this time walking around the event looking very terrified surrounded by so many LGBT+ people, this years event also included several other members of the church, though not in protest.
Just walking around the event I encountered a group of four members of the church, three male and one female vicars, sporting rainbows and covered in stickers supporting the LGBT+ community. They were visiting stalls and talking with people from all kinds of backgrounds. As someone who often sees stories about how members of religious communities speak out against the LGBT+ community I was so pleasantly surprised to see members of the church coming to celebrate alongside the LGBT+ community.
It might not seem like much, but just a handful of people from a group that so often speaks out against the LGBT+ community standing with us was so uplifting.
Things Got Political
Some people make comments that being part of the LGBT+ community is a political statement, which is completely stupid. However, politics and the LGBT+ community and their struggles do go hand in hand, especially when some political parties hold such polarising views on LGBT+ equality.
This year I couldn't help but notice that there were more members of political parties present at the event, and that there was a little bit of rivalry between them as they tried to win over supporters to their parties.
I got handed leaflets by the Labur Party which highlighted the fact that Labour have supported LGBT+ rights a lot more than the conservatives, saw people going round the event asking people if they supported certain parties. It was the first time that I'd seen political parties making a big effort with having a bigger presence at a Pride event.
We even had members of LGBTory (yes, the Conservative Party LGBT+ group believes that the T stands for Tory) at the event, though they seemed very reluctant to speak to people in the same way that the Labour and Greens were, possibly because they're a despicable party with a history of opposing LGBT+ views (sorry, my hatred of the Conservatives is starting to come through again).
LGBT+ Make a Lot of Noise
I know that there's the phrase 'Loud and Proud', but I didn't quite appreciate just how apt that statement was until this years event. With people handing out whistles and vuvuzelas before the parade began the march turned into a cacophony of whistles, hoots, trumpets, screams and singing that was close to deafening.
Whilst at times it was amazing to hear the crowds cheering us on as we made our way through the town I did want to tell off the person handing out all of the noise making devices. My ears were ringing for hours after.
All in all this year's Pride event was a huge improvement over last years, and there was nothing wrong with last years in any way. It would seem that Pride events, and the LGBT+ community itself are improving and growing in amazing ways as we continue to come together to celebrate our victories and show our strength in the face of adversities.