I marched with London Pride yesterday. It seemed necessary, after Orlando and Brexit.
I love how the LGBT+ community stands up for the basic human rights it has had to insist on, still has to insist on. That they don't do it with a war, a fight, or even an argument — but with a party.
Fierce and Fabulous
For the community, Pride is a dress up and dance day that celebrates the wild, the weird, the edgy, the playful, the creative, the colorful and yes, the sexual.
Onlookers can misunderstand. Because it's a party, we might make the mistake of thinking it’s trivial. We might not get that this community of love and lovers, which has been subjected to every kind of threat, from mockery to murder, is not just flaunting its pride in itself. And is not just saying, “Look at us, here we are”.
But also asking us all to look more closely at our own passions, our own desires and our own fears.
The Spiderman actor, Andrew Garfield, summed it up beautifully in London Time Out last week, writing about the post-Orlando vigil in Soho. What the LGBT+ community was saying that night, and says with every Pride march, is: “‘See me. See me deeper. Accept me. No, don’t just accept me – love me. Celebrate my presence on this earth. Welcome me, don’t just tolerate me. See me as I am and love me as I am: your brother, your sister.'
And, he added, for the community Pride is “also an opportunity to… stand, talk, protest, march, sing, dance and be generally fabulous and fierce as fuck in the face of forces designed to make us full of terror.”
For the rest of us, it's a reminder that we are each as united with (or as divided from) other human beings as we choose to be.
And that we all, as the gay American bard Walt Whitman said in Leaves of Grass, “contain multitudes”.
United We Stand (And Dance)
We can never fully feel as another feels, be as another is, make love as another loves. One response to that fact of human life is to find our tribe and pull it in around us. For those whose tribes are forced into hiding, that may be an important first step.
But on its own, never enough. And Pride is much, much more than that.
Pride honors the joy, and the pain, of getting beyond fear to tell our own truth. (Something we all fail to do, far too often.) It is good to have this ceremony to remind us.
And to show us that when it comes to telling the truth about ourselves, it doesn't matter whether we do it quietly, or do it garishly, so long as we do it with love.
Love, Love, Love
Love is the only thing powerful enough to take us beyond the divides that institutions like newspapers and nations put so much energy into fostering.
Every day, we are all subjected to forces that press down on our “Divide” buttons. (The latest here in the UK is a fomenting of inter-generational strife and ageism around the Brexit vote).
Pride, this great big, flashy, cacophonous, kaleidoscopic event, insists upon what we all know, deep down: That every human is both tolerant and fearful, wonderful and weird, perfect and imperfect.
It's a gift that extends far beyond the LGBT+ community, this opportunity to see what human love looks like, in all its gaudy glory.
To stand up for it. To march with it. To dance it down the street.
Pride reminds us that it is only by being true to our own passions, our own desires, and overcoming our own fears, that we can come to love ourselves enough to truly love others.
LGBT+ brothers/sisters, thank you!
I had a wonderful time.
More thoughts on sexual politics in After The Rising & Before The Fall