Yesterday was the first major Pride event on my tiny little island.
I've talked often about how the place is a little backward. Ten years ago I was fairly convinced that the rest of the world would be an egalitarian paradise before the Isle of Wight started properly accepting LGBTQA folks and issues - that's how you know that ten years ago I was naive as hell. The world, however, doesn't all get fixed at once.
The event yesterday was very popular, as best I can tell. The people who wanted to get involved, got involved. Haters didn't show up - as I say, as best I can tell. I only had to have the "But Why Isn't There Straight Pride" conversation once, and it was more a discussion of inherent issues than a shouting match with a gorilla. Everyone had a lovely time, everything was brightly coloured and happy, and visibility won against centuries of weirdly insular beliefs.
I'm pretty lucky on most counts. Half-Lebanese but white enough that I pass on that score, and me being bi hasn't actually caused me any negative consequences. I'm privileged to exist in the "passing" zone. I'm close enough to straight white male that I get to be one on most counts. I know a lot of people that don't fit within that particular zone, and their lives have not been pretty or easy.
One of my friends effectively came out, this morning - and I think it may have been as a result of Pride. The result which speaks for itself. I honestly hope and pray for the day when someone doesn't need to come out at all. I hope for the day when someone needn't fear being accepted for who and what they are.
It does feel a little weird to see all these businesses and organisations at such an event. Like, yes, demonstrating support is good. I am totally behind that, especially if the business is actually supportive and non-discriminatory. I do wonder at times, though. I wonder how much of the presence of a corporate entity at a Pride march is support and how much is advertising. That's just the cynical bit of me though - as much of me as that is, and it does run pretty deep.
I also both enjoy seeing our local police present at such an event in support, but I am probably not alone in hoping that the world doesn't forget where the first Pride marches came from. Maybe the world is truly changing - maybe it doesn't need to be a riot any more - but there was and is an apparatus of oppression that exists, and can be put to use. I think it is going to be a long time before we are free of that.
Our Prime Minister had the audacity to record a pro-Pride message, despite voting against LGBTQA rights whenever given the opportunity. Our last local MP was a homophobic bigot. I don't know our new one enough to know where he stands on the matter, though the Tory party were notably the only major local political party to not be present in the actual parade. I don't count UKIP in that number, besides.
We have it easier here than in the US, I know that for sure. Easier there still than in Chechnya and other places around the globe which go so far beyond passive hostility. Some of our so-called supposed allies in the Middle East have governments that treat deviation from the cishet norm as a crime punishable by mutilation and death. I know our government probably don't care, as long as they can keep flogging rockets and jet planes.
The rainbows are still around. We need to keep them. We need to cherish that rainbow, as a symbol of a world that we can live in, if only we have the will to pursue it. There are those that feel threatened by it, just the same as there are those that felt threatened by the end of slavery, threatened by women being allowed to vote and earn a wage, threatened by people having a bible they could actually read. It's not enough that we recognise that their attitude is one of the past. We need to condemn it to the past and then send it there, by making our future a better place.
I hope that we can. I really do.
For one day, though - for one day, it was real.