At the tender age of 63, I attended my first Pride event last month. Transliving International were taking part with a stall for the day and required a few unsuspecting girls to help out with advice, leaflet distribution and, more importantly, the erection of the Transliving gazebo which had only recently been recovered from the Black Country. Courtsey of Transliving resident photographer, Richard, I found myself one of the unsuspecting crash test dummies who volunteered to help and I’m very glad I did. The forecast was clear and on our trip over to the heart of Essex it was obvious that it was going to be a very hot day.
We duly arrived and were allocated our pitch. “Over there, by the trees” we were told. It was a lovely shaded location under the overhanging branches of a large oak tree, complete with a red carpet that the organisers obviously felt befitted our station! Our delusions of grandeur were firmly dashed. As soon as the Transliving gazebo was up we were instructed to take it down! We had inadvertently staked our claim in the area reserved for Macrame. Apparently macramé is best practiced on a carpet on the floor! Once we finished sighing, we set about re-locating the gazebo with as little effort as possible. Fortunately one of the organisers offered help and with the aid of a couple of other girls we managed the arduous task of moving the gazebo, table, chairs and books 4m to the left.
We were finally set up in good time and looked forward to the day’s celebrations.
As scheduled, the Pride Parade arrived at midday. A procession of all the colours of the rainbow – less indigo because does anyone actually know what colour that is?
Once the march, ceremonies and photos were over, the party really began. A party that resembled a music festival where a completely diverse set of people get together to enjoy a shared moment of pure joy. The main stage was occupied throughout the afternoon by a variety of tribute bands that catered for more popular music from the 70’s and 80’s but was embraced by the much larger contigent of much younger generations. The party atmosphere continued all day with street food available and the bars doing a roaring trade quenching the thirst of the very hot revellers.
Amongst all the fun there was also a more serious side. Charities and support groups were on hand to listen and advise. Although things with the LGBT+Q community have improved drastically there is still room for improvement. One very poignant story came from the new vicar at Chelmsford Cathederal, Paul Kennington, concerning a young T-girl who had “come out” only to be ostracised and physically abused by her family. It is incredible that in 2023 such narrow views still exist. Reassuringly, the whole Pride event demonstrated the generosity of people who are happy to offer comfort to those who find themselves in a position of discrimination.
I hope that all the support groups present receive the recognition they deserve for the time and unpaid effort that they so willingly supply.
The day was a wonderful celebration of multiple communities coming together in an accepting and welcoming environment.
My only real concern was trying to identify all the new flags that symbolise each category. Hopefully, come Southend, I will have completed my homework!