Sunday, 16 July 2017

Drinking, drugs, and double-dipping - what's the point of PRIDE?

Sure, it’s easy to look at pictures of PRIDE when they’re laid out in a trash-infested tabloid, and say to your loyal(ish) wife of 55 years, “Fucking hell, Barbara - have you seen the state of ‘em? It’s disgusting. This one guy’s passed out, and his arse is right out!!! Flamin’ Nora!! One of ‘em is even being sick in the street. Turns my stomach it does. Turns it right over.”

But you could say any of those things after any city-wide celebration involving alcohol. People can’t handle their drink (or drugs), and England’s press thrives off other people’s debauchery. But PRIDE isn’t just one big piss up. Nor is it a one-way ticket to M-Kat Kingdom. PRIDE is a way of celebrating who you are, and whoever you love. It gives hundreds of thousands of oppressed people the opportunity to party without judgement, or fear. And it’s one massive Fuck You to anyone who’s incapable of seeing beyond their biblical blinkers.

‘But being Gay has been legal for 50 years in England, so why do we still need PRIDE?’

Okay, I’m hearing what you’re saying, but I’m not enjoying it. Not one bit. It might be legal here, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t still some people who only approve of being predictably heterosexual. And there are others who (as liberal as they might think they are) struggle to understand someone’s sexuality unless it perfectly fits into a dictionary’s definition. In fact, it’s astonishing how, for a country that ranks pretty highly in the ‘
do whatever the fuck you want’ chart, a lot of people still feel the need to pigeonhole sexuality. Watched gay porn once? Gay.  Sucked off your mate once? Gay. Like Coldplay? Gay.

Personally, I believe in Dr. Kinsey’s theory that sexuality is on a sliding scale (soz, Mr Gay-Is-A-Cardinal-Sin), and some people just flux more than others. Back in 2007, I dipped a finger (or two) in the Gay Way. Then in 2013, I slid all the way up to Casa del Lesbiana. But now I’m truly back in Penis Paradise (even if it is a bit light on the penis rn). So I’ve had my fair share of dabbling, and I probably will again in the future. But SO many people have struggled to understand my pleasure-seeking roller coaster.

To demonstrate how limited people can be, here are a few examples of the kind of questions people have asked when they’re trying to ‘understand’:

Exhibit 1: A conversation with a Naive Idiot:

Naive Idiot: So, you had a girlfriend once?

Me: Yes.

Naive Idiot: But you’re not gay?

Me: No.

Naive Idiot: But you must be gay?

Me: I’m not.

Naive Idiot: So you’re Bi then?

Me: No.

Naive Idiot: Come on. You must be.

Me: Why?

Naive Idiot: Just because that’s how it goes.

Me: Oh….well, in that case - you must be right. Thanks for clarifying my emotions for me. Don’t know what I’d have done without you.

Exhibit 2: A conversation with a Total Douchebag:

Total Douchebag: So, are you going stay with the cock now?

Me: I guess you never know what’s going to happen in the future...

Total Douchebag: Yeah you do - you either like cock or fanny, so what’s it going to be?

Me: That’s not really how it works.

Total Douchebag: Ohhhh, I get it - are you the kind of greedy bastard who likes ‘em all? Tits and dicks? Whatever you can put in your mouth?

Me (in my head): I’d much rather put cyanide in my mouth than continue to talk to you.

Although these conversations seem like fleeting moments of judgmental idiocy, they left an impression. And they affected my relationship - I never felt comfortable in public, because I cared about what other people thought. I was never fully-invested because I valued the opinion of strangers more than I valued how I felt, or how my girlfriend felt. In fact, if I’m being completely honest, I felt ashamed. And that’s a feeling I’m not really used to, even if my parents did try and instil the Catholic Guilt in me at a young age.

But imagine how terrifying that ‘shame’ must feel if you realise you’re not straight, and your family are homophobes, or if the leader of your country is a homophobic, deluded arsehole. Or how dirty the ‘shame’ must feel if your family say they understand, and that they still love you, but then they only refer to your same-sex lover as your ‘friend’, and refuse to give you a plus-one for any family events. Imagine having to love in secret, or having to lie for your love, just because other people can’t accept something that goes against the traditional grain.

That’s why we still need PRIDE. It’s to show all of the oppressed people that there is a place where their love will feel valued, and that it’s more than okay to be a little bit ‘different’.
And as one of the most liberal countries in the world, it’s our social responsibility to lead the way for change. To make a stand for freedom. Because at this very moment in time, there are gay men being beaten and murdered, purely for being gay. There are women who have had their sexual freedom violently taken from them. And there are transsexuals who are shunned from society, just for being different.

So even though PRIDE might seem like one big party - it’s more than that. It’s a protest against sexual dictatorship and social segregation. And it’s a beacon of hope to anyone that’s still living in oppression.

Sure, PRIDE isn’t without its flaws - it’s disgusting how it’s become a playground for companies who are looking to piggyback onto social issues, just so they can plug whatever they’re selling with less of a conscience. And it’s concerning how straight people use it as an excuse to get drunk in the streets of London, despite making no effort to stand up for gay rights any other time of the year.  

But regardless of its problems, the purpose of PRIDE is still something we need to hold onto - we need to encourage acceptance and diversity. Fundamentally, we’re all made of the same biological stuff anyway - it’s just the way we think and feel that’s different. And honestly, I wouldn’t give one single milligram of shit if my friend came to the pub riding a glitter-bombed horse, sporting an enormous dildo on his forehead, and had several men hanging out of his arse. Sure, I’d probably bring it up, but as long as he was happy, still appreciative of a questionable pun, and practising safe, consensual sex, I’d welcome him with semi-open arms (open arms are suspiciously false and sociably uncomfortable.)

At the end of the day, life can be truly terrible, and people can be beyond deplorable arseholes. So if you manage to find someone who you love, and who loves you in return, who gives a fuck if they’re a girl or a boy, or a girl who’s a boy on Wednesdays? It might sound like one of Instagram’s many clichéd hashtags, but Love really is Love. (As long as it’s consensual and not full-on Lolita, obvs.)

So big-up to PRIDE - keep on fighting the good fight, and partying the big party.