The first Gay Pride event I ever attended was in London 1976 - and what dour affairs they were then! I'm pretty sure they weren't called 'Pride' - more something like 'Gay Equality March' (this was when the age of consent here was 21 - and then only in a strictly defined 'private'.) I well remember the sombre tone of that particular event (no bands, only chanting) as we were allowed only to follow a route through the back streets of central London, accompanied by police, some visibly smirking and sneering, and being jeered at, even spat upon I once witnessed, by by-standers. How things change! Now they are truly a celebration - colourful and in-your-face. It's something no serious politician can afford to be openly hostile to. The party leaders this year are tripping over each other in order to demonstrate that they are most pro-gay. For the first time tomorrow's event in London will have the Prime Minister's wife among the march leaders - though not yet the P.M. himself - maybe next year? For some time already they've been graced by the presence of the Lord Mayor of London. A few days ago the Conservative leader even publicly apologised for the anti-gay legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher's government. What is the world coming to? And all this on top of the truly wonderful news from India. (Let's all hope the religious groups there don't get the ruling reversed.)
But although I went to quite a few of the ensuing rallies in London I gradually became aware that it's the not the sort of thing one likes to go to alone. In spite of being among thousands of like-minded men and women I realised it can also what seems like the loneliest place in the world. At least when I used to frequent bars regularlyI could use alcohol as a 'prop' to enable me to start chatting to someone I like. Rarely drinking to excess, I'm glad to say. (I thank heavens that I'm not alcy - though I do realise how easy it is to become so.) But at these events if one is alone it seems to me that no one wants to know you.
Next month is Brighton Pride, the largest such event in this country outside London (Brighton, for decades being the gay 'capital' here.) I usually go to that because it's so easy to get there and back in 20-30 minutes. It always raises my spirits in particular to see the Gay Muslim group marching. They are so brave and gutsy. I'll go to this year's but I know I'm almost certainly going to come back feeling lonely, deflated and empty inside - but there's always the chance.......
Incidentally, I'm still waiting with considerable trepidation the arrival of the new occupant of the now empty flat under me. As I write this my two pussies are here sleeping beside me. If there's trouble over their presence ......well, I daren't think what I might do.
2 hours ago