The first rainbows were on the tram platform: flags and glitter make-up. Instant conversation starter. I was in my kit, without my ribbons as yet, rainbow necklace, earrings and shades.Two or three more encounters on the way: all cheerful, excited, looking forward to the afternoon.
In direct contrast, as I found out when we were waiting for our part of the Pride parade to move off, one of my teammates had someone shout, “Queer!” at her on her way to join us. So, yeah, another reminder of why we were taking part.
I don’t blog very much about my Morris dancing team on this site – it’s not always directly relevant, after all. But dancing – and my teammates – have been a big part of my life for almost 20 years now, and sometimes it feels like a really big, important, bigger-than-just-me part of it. Yesterday was one of those times. We are a women’s Morris team, including lesbians, bisexuals, heteroflexible, asexual and straight women, and this year we danced in the Pride parade. And it was brilliant, amazing, and.utterly worthwhile. Yes, it was very hot; yes, we were shattered by the end of it (and my socks could have run home by themselves) but oh, the euphoria and the love and the solidarity and the joy of it all!
Yes, there are people who criticize the way Pride has changed in recent years. There are some valid concerns about aspects of the whole busines. Yet, participating, looking around, I saw a lot more than just feelgood commercialism. I saw a lot of diversity in terms of ethnic background, gender, gender identity – and am not going to comment on sexual orientation as, you know, that’s not something you can necessarily tell without asking. There was a big presence from Amnesty International. There were placards concerned about the plight of LGBTQ Chechens. Overall, I think it’s a mistake to underestimate the importance of joy and celebration: there is a degree of necessary defiance in being loudly, proudly happy when there are people who think you should be miserable, silent and ashamed of who you are.
Being surrounded by so many happy, enthusiastic, rainbow-bedazzled people made me think, with a degree of necessary optimism given the state of the world, that you’d actually have a fucking job to put a lid on sexual diversity and force people back into unhappy, rigid conformity, over here. And the more everyone looks at something like Pride and sees colour, glamour, excitement, solidarity, kindness and fun, the less likely they are to reject the less conventional.
As a writer of erotica, I’ve always enjoyed dreaming up and describing a whole range of sexualities, choices, desires and struggles. As an anthology editor, I generally prefer to compile books that feature straight, gay, lesbian, bi, open to possibilities and, well, anything appropriate that the writers can come up with (not that specifically lesbian/gay/bi/genderqueer collections don’t have their place).
And I’m going to finish this post for a straight up blatant plug with relevance – under my other pen name, I did write a story about lesbian morris dancers for The Xcite Book Of Lesbian Romance.
Oh, and my wonderful team won the Best Parade Team award for yesterday, as well. Was it our rainbow flags, our rainbow shoelaces, our dancing or our fabulously co-ordinated team make-up that did the trick? Who cares? We were out there and we are proud.