Once again Pride is on Saturday so get your rainbow flags out. In my early years on the gay scene, my first visit to London's Gay Pride was like Dorothy finding Kansas (in a big park, free with a suggested donation of £3). Back then it had a heady mix of politics and fun....but where has the political aspect gone?
We've come a long way baby but there is more work to do. Gay men can't donate blood, homophobic hate crime is on the increase (being reported and taken seriously) and internationally people are being abused, arrested, murdered and tortured for same sex love. It's great that we're relatively free to love and express ourselves in the west but do any of the younger gays care about gay politics, know of its history or know how lucky they are to have the right to publicly wave their flag?
I recently discovered that charity Stonewall have binned the transgender part of the groups activities and concentrating on the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual side. Hang on a moment, where does the name Stonewall come from? From a little bar in New York that fire-started the queer revolution. And who threw the first stone? A bunch of trannys. Who publicly works for the rights of the transgender community now? There are small organisations but nothing close to the money and public exposure that Stonewall gets. They continue to use the name but have shut their trans sisters out in the cold without so much as a head scarf.
2009 was the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and Pride London chose not to acknowledge it. Pride barely has a whiff of politics these days as like Stonewall, strive for a safe, mainstream acceptable face of homosexuality (much like the BBC). Web site Homovision were told they weren't allowed to be part of the march for turning up with placards and told “Pride is not a political demonstration”. I love a good public display of campness and frivolity but if we're supposed to be proud of who we are, surely Pride of all dates in the gay calendar is when our sisters past and present around the world should be recognised and remembered.
I don't fit the idealisation of 'gay' that Stonewall and Pride promotes. I could be lumped with the lesbians but few gay women events or groups hold any appeal for me (I don't like funky house or pool). You could throw me in with the drag queens but a lot of the performers represent a dated almost misogynistic idealisation of drag which is a shame when there is so much innovation going on in the alternative queer community. I'm incredibly proud to be a queer woman, who has the right to love, dress and act as she pleases yet feel a revolution brewing, from those who don't tick the boxes of mainstream gayness.
Pride and Stonewall, when you wave your rainbow flags this weekend remember it was originally created by Gilbert Baker in San Fransisco, a drag queen involved with The Cockettes. A group of queer alternative radical trannys.
However you choose to mark the occasion, have a great Pride.
PS The party I promote 'Hot Mess' will be throwing an alternative to the many Pride parties at Dalston Superstore. Come on down if you want an alternative to waxed chests, fake tans, pink cowboy hats and tranny exclusion. We've got REX THE DOG!
PPS Despite my ramblings, I got involved with Pride this year in a fun way.