“I like pride, but I don’t understand the parade bit. Don’t people usually march when they are oppressed? We don’t oppress gay people these days do we?”
This is a quote from a chat I had on Sunday morning about my adventures at York Pride on Saturday.
I had never been to a Pride before so everything was new; huge rainbow flags, flamboyant drag artists and merchandise sellers. I went along with my friend who is also LGBT* and Noodle who wore a quirky ‘Guide Unicorn at Work’ sign I had made that morning. As the crowds assembled outside the Minster in a chattering assortment of colour and excitement; the speeches began from the top of a double decker bus adorned with rainbows. This included some words from Canon Michael Smith, speaking in front of the mighty church. As I looked around all I could see was love in its many forms.
The Church isn’t too sure on its stance with homosexuality yet, making the relationship between religion as a whole and the LGBT* community frosty at best. The decision to take part and give the event a seal of approval was brilliant but controversial. Most prominently speaking out against the plan was Reverend Tinker of Hull. He took the drastic step of making clear in a radio interview his thinking that the church accepting LGBT* people as ‘valid’ opens the door for others from the ‘immoral category’ such as peadophiles and serial adulterers. Likening homosexuality to peadophilia. Nice.
This is oppression. We walked in the parade because we are not the perverse or shady characters some people make us out to be. We are people and we are here. Yes, in this country we have made radical steps to equality but on the playground the sniper of all accusations is still ‘lesbo’ or ‘gay’. The week of Revrend Tinker’s radio comment a Canon went to discrimination tribunal because he has been banned from his work in the church because he married another man. In Russia, laws against ‘gay propaganda’ mean that a generation of young LGBT* people are growing up to think they are repulsive. A 2012 study found that 2/5 school-age victims of homophobic bullying attempt or contemplate suicide. 79 countries have anti-homosexuality laws. It is estimated that in South Africa 500 lesbians a year are made victims of ‘corrective rape’ to ‘make them straight’ and in ten countries being gay can cost you your life.
This is not right.
This is not fair.
Rainbows appear in the sky in every country around the world but some people are just too blind to see them. England is making big steps forward, but we haven’t found the pot of golden equality just yet. I wore the rainbow flag because I am proud that I can do so without fearing handcuffs, I wore it because I am proud of all those fighting for better and I am proud of everyone who has ever been oppressed for simply being who they are. I think these things are worth shouting about.