As we reflect on Pride Month, which this year has been able to be celebrated in its traditional sense, Comment Writers share how they chose to mark it and what Pride means to them personally
Pride celebrations are one of many events that have been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and sadly, for me, this has caused a gap in my summer experience. It has come to be a tradition to attend Pride celebrations in both Birmingham and Manchester, and symbolises a time to take pride in who I am and who I love. To feel a sense of belonging in the crowds of LGBTQ+ communities is an incredible experience, a particular sensation I felt when I attended my first Pride only months after coming out as gay.
But this year, there are no marches to attend, or rainbows to be donned in a crowd, but a more independent celebration. However, that does not mean that one cannot take time to accept who they are. I no longer am on the journey of accepting my own sexuality; but I will still focus on appreciating who I am, and encouraging others do the same. And as for celebration, I choose to celebrate with my LGBTQ friends, and take comfort in the community that Pride has brought me.
Antonio Miguel Aguila
For me, 2020 pride month was my first pride being out. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the pride marches I had hoped to attend were either cancelled or postponed. Thus, I had to celebrate pride and figure out what it meant to me differently than expected. Being the nerd that I am, I took to books and films. I watched Call Me by Your Name, Portrait of a Lady on Fire and read The Song of Achilles. I also spent some time researching Pride’s origins; discovered Virtual Pride 2020 and – although I’m reluctant to admit it – watched hours of LGBTQ+ TikTok compilations.
In my experience, feeling alienated from your sexuality was not the same thing as feeling anxious or depressed. It was dysphoric, like there was not something quite right when I looked at the mirror. To find that there were many people in history and plenty of people now that share the same experience was uplifting. I feel quite lucky to be queer in this day and age: the queer community’s presence and culture is something compounded over decades. My first pride, although not perfect, has been a special time that I, and others, have taken out to think about and accept who we are.
Growing up, the Scissor Sisters and John Barrowman were about the extent of my queer exposure – lonely bastions of a flamboyant promised land that some part of me always knew I belonged to. Pride, though, was something I only truly grasped when I attended my first parade, a nervous but excited 15-year-old. I could not have anticipated the absolute intensity of the love I felt that day in London, standing in a crowd of real people who knew how I felt and had nothing but kindness to shower me with.
I feel a small piece of that love every time I see queer people represented faithfully in mainstream media, each time I hear a trans person’s story on the radio or see same-sex couples holding hands out in public. I want every queer child to feel that warmth and validation growing up, to know that in a community as beautiful and as massive as ours, there will always be a place for them. This is why we need pride today, because as far as we have come since the repeal of the Labouchère amendment or the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967, many of us still cannot count on our safety. And so, we will continue to take up space, to celebrate the likes of Marsha P. Johnson and to fly our flag.
While Pride month as a concept is, and should always be, referred to as a protest, in its more literal dictionary definition, it can encapsulate something profoundly more internal and transformative. From an outsider perspective coming out can appear to be a way of expressing your self-discovery, or if the common consensus garnered from internet trolls and schoolyard rhetoric is to be believed, it is attention-seeking and oxymoronically unnecessarily due to ubiquitous legal acceptance. But, I think it can sometimes be reductive to suggest that queerness consciously sits in a clandestine interior waiting to be unveiled to the public.
Personally, the process of coming out and accepting myself was a far more daunting task than explaining myself to others. There were always signs, Chekov’s gun-like fixtures of my personality that were relegated to the background scenery, only to come into focus much later in life. When I finally did come out to myself, after a few long and arduous years of battling off my repressed feelings, I can only describe the sensation as akin to that of how I imagine the uncanny experience of recognising yourself in the mirror for the first time feels, galvanising and terrifying all at once. I have a photograph of myself from around the age of sixteen and I cannot begin to convey the unbelievably satisfying feeling I carry knowing that I do not know that person anymore, and how impossible it would seem for her to imagine myself now.
To me, pride is about self-recognition because, no matter what you think of labels, being able to look at yourself, and in turn see yourself in others, and recognise that those feelings were always there, even if you chose not to acknowledge them, is what makes pride and the sharing of personal experiences so important.
Like this? See below for more from Comment: