When I went to my first ever pride event, I was underwhelmed and disengaged

13/12/2021

What was the point in pride events, hadn’t we solved most of the injustices that plagued the LGBTQIA+ community? It was summer 2019 and I went to my first Pride event in Brighton. I wasn’t sure what I expected but I knew it was important to my girlfriend, so I went along to be supportive.

I had known I was Bisexual from a young age, why choose Paul or Bradley from S Club 7, when you could be equally interested in Jo or Rachel as well? But up until I was 24, I had mostly been in committed relationships with men, so fell mostly under the radar as a bisexual woman and just passed as ‘being straight’. You can find a concise article about straight passing here.

Overall, my experience at my first pride was good. I met some wonderful people, and it was a chance for me and my girlfriend to dress up and have a good time. But I was missing that, eureka moment. The 'Oh-These-Are-My-People' moment, I began to think something was wrong with me. Was I even ‘gay enough’ to be here?

What was the point in all this when (in my opinion at the time) the work had already been done? In the UK same-sex partners can get married, the legal age of consent is the same as heterosexuals and hate crime against the LGBTQIA+ community was decreasing. So why did we need Pride events that looked like this? I was obviously really naïve to think this because 64% of LGBTQIA+ people had experienced anti-LGBTQIA+ violence or abuse.

On the journey home, I began to assume it was just because although I was proud, I might show pride in other ways. I have always been a firm believer that shouting at someone to educate them will never change their opinions. By just existing as you are, your own little *rainbow* person, they would learn, slowly, at their own pace.

How can any work be done to improve on the LGBTQIA+ community when pride is just an event of like minded people having a party? I found myself asking: how could this bring about positive change? And I began to wonder whether I needed to attend another pride event.

But as our relationship continued, we laughed and joked about going on holiday, travelling abroad, talking about what our future might look like, would we marry, would we have kids…. I began to see how wrong I was.

Did you know that 69 countries across the word still criminalise being gay? And the majority of those are ones where you might like to go on a once in a lifetime holiday. You might choose a destination for a honeymoon such as Kenya, Singapore, Maldives and Saint Lucia. All places myself and my girlfriend could be punished just for loving one another.

Don’t worry though, we could just go on a nice relaxing holiday and pretend to be sisters. Not only does this put into question the validity ofour relationship. But secondary to that, why should we have to hide who we are, just to see the world? And why does the thought of going on holiday now have to become a political and social statement?

On the other hand - this could just be my privileged upbringing as a Western woman, that surely I am entitled to be whomever I see fit. Maybe these thoughts don’t consider other cultures and religions. Maybe I’m demanding Western understanding when I'm travelling outside of the West. Let me know if you don’t feel safe traveling to a destination because of your sexual orientation in the comments section below.

Don’t even get me started on the process of having a baby with another woman and the difficulty in both process and financial impact that would have on our lives. As well as the cost of sperm and the mandatory tests, each round of insemination costs between £800 and £1,300. There are lots of convoluted factors when looking at making a baby where two women plan to be the parents. Any funding or self-funding is a factor, whether one or both mothers will be on the birth certificate… And that’s not to say heterosexual couples who choose to have IVF have it easy! The process of conceiving a child with another woman and all the disproportionate financial and health-based stressors compared to a fertile heterosexual couple feels a bit unjust.

And it’s for these reasons, and so many more every day microaggressions, such as repeatedly being given twin beds in hotels, being asked how we have sex by random people, being stared at on a night out for kissing my girlfriend and other tedious tropes and slurs mean that in the future, I will attend a Pride event with care and compassion for the community. Because I no longer think, oh I’m here to be around ‘my people', but instead, I am a more informed human who would like open conversation about the pitfalls of being someone in a lesbian relationship. I would like to learn more, so I can go out into the world and educate those who do not know and who are naïve (like I was) to these issues.

I would now actively encourage people who are both new and old within the LGBTQIA+ community to attend a Pride event of their choice and use it as a tool to encounter new people, ideas and use it as a safe space to share experiences. And I hope they go away from that event being able to educate those around them with a little more insight into all the colours of the rainbow.

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