I had planned a lazy Saturday last weekend following a rather late night out on the Friday (Operation South). My plans consisted of making tea and doing some cross stitch in the sunshine. (Hard core) After ‘making the most’ of summer so far and partying consistently hard I had given myself the ‘weekend off’ to rest, recoup and recharge. This hermit idea, however, would not come to pass.
Encouraged by a friend and his very convincing texts I dropped my quiet plans and instead headed out to join them at London Pride. The deciding factor was my mate’s use of the description ‘Gay Christmas’ which meant it was simply rude not to. Well played sir. Getting out of the wrong side of Piccadilly Circus, waiting for what felt like ages in the direct afternoon sun just to get across the road (mostly motivated by the knowledge that a gin waited for me) I finally made it to Pall Mall and found them.
I must say, Pride this year was, as expected, sheer joy. I don’t normally enjoy huge crowds, but that day was an exception. There was a real festival atmosphere and it felt like the smile on my face was just as stuck on as the lashings of glitter on many others.
|My favourite float – of course!|
Doing a shop run for some more drinks, the supermarkets were struggling to keep up with the throngs of people gently jostling around half empty fridges. The roads were crammed with grinning parade spectators all celebrating together. A heartening observation I noted to my friend was that an event like Pride is incredibly special since the crowd, regardless of gender or preference, were all celebrating love together.
Heading down to Soho Square (which was so jam-packed it was standing room only) we, along with hundreds of others perched on the surrounding pavement. We chatted and danced with old friends, new friends and total strangers as the general euphoria of the day continued well into the night. An absolutely fantastic day made up of a collection of wonderful memories.
|Best dressed – complete with ‘bridesmaids’. Brilliant|
Cut to a few days later and I woke on Friday morning to read about the shocking spree of acid attacks that happened in my area overnight. One of them occurring in a road I lived in a few years back. I found the violent anger and purely destructive nature of these acts so incomprehensible. Considering it had not been long since the awful Finsbury Park incident, it was all starting to feel a bit too close to home and I did start to feel a general anxiety and, the more I thought about it, a touch of fear.
Casting my mind back to the abundance of joy and love we were surrounded by the previous Saturday, it was wonderful to remember and use this to steel some positive nerve in myself. If thousands of people can come together to celebrate each other, lift each other up and enjoy the freedom we are granted to be ourselves, whatever that means, then this is what it’s really about. I have now made the choice to focus on all the positive energy and experiences that I’ve enjoyed, especially with total strangers, and how we as a positive collective completely outnumber the dangerous and clearly damaged individuals spreading hate.
I was contemplating this thought while travelling the other day and was mid-reinforcing the positive notion for myself while waiting to cross the road. Suddenly a cantankerous older woman pulling a wheeled shopping bag literally put her hand on my hip and shoved me out of her way, aggressively uttering ‘move!’ into my ear just so she could cross in front of some imminently oncoming traffic that I’d chosen to allow to pass rather than risk running in front of.
This did burst my happy bubble a bit but I soon strengthened my resolve. I refused to let someone else’s bad attitude and rudeness permeate into my day and ruin it. Some might call it naïve, but I refuse to buy into the bad hype or acknowledge the currency of fear. Life is too short to not try and find the silver lining.
Remembering a great poster someone carried passed us in Soho Square – I couldn’t get a half decent pic so I’ve nicked this image below which is very similar. The sentiment is exactly the same and feels like an appropriate banner to positively rally behind for respect, inclusivity and most importantly, love. Today would also have been Nelson Mandela’s 99th birthday, a role model for tolerance and forgiveness. Feels right to put out the call – who’s with me?
|What she said|