The first time I danced in the Pride parade was six years ago. There have certainly been some changes in that time and, yes, for many people, things have got a lot worse in a lot of ways. For LGBTQ people, above all for trans people, things have got frighteningly worse, frighteningly fast. So it was encouraging to see that this year’s Pride In London had the slogan Never Dance Alone and made much of standing with the trans community (my wristband was blue, pink and white, the colours of the Trans Pride flag).
There has, of course, been the usual onlines squawking and scrapping: Pride is too corporate, they shouldn’t allow the police to be part of the parade, shouldn’t allow big corporations with questionable ethics to send their junior employees along in rainbow-patterned workwear and all the rest of it. Many of those criticising the event have at least part of a point, though the insistence that Pride used to be a protest rather than a party is a little questionable when you know that the very first one, in 1972, was billed as a ‘carnival parade’ and those attending were encouraged to wear bright colours. This year, some of those who objected to what they see as the appropriation of Pride (for reasons other than LGBTQ+ bigotry) generally held their own events and fair play to them. Given that the last lot who decided to disrupt the parade were bigoted wingnuts, the ones who decided to have a go this time round probably didn’t improve their own image…
But the abiding memory I carry away, each time we join in, is that of dizzy, delighted grins on the faces of the young, backed up by anecdotes from friends and friends of friends. To the young, the newly out and the self-questioning, an afternoon of warmth and joy and acceptance, seeing that there are thousands of people like them or sympathetic to them, all dancing and whooping and applauding diversity and happiness, is so important.
At least three of our group are trans/non-binary and several others are queer: we dance in solidarity, in acceptance and with love.