When you grow up feeling ashamed of who you are, it can take a while to get your head round what “pride” actually means.
In the big-gay-party-time sense, pride is the ultimate joy. It’s seeing all your friends in one place, twirling around with gay abandon without fear of reprisal or reprimand. It’s dancing in the streets in 13-degree wet Manchester weather in shorts and a too-tight vest. It’s watching the parade with my family, having a warm can of G&T with my Dad, watching my sister’s kids wide eyed at all the colours and music and people without judgement or prejudice. It’s the coming together of our community for a weekend of fun and reflection.
But when the bunting comes down and we go back to daily life, pride finds other ways to make itself known.
I get to feel it when a young LGBTQ+ couple walks hand in hand down the street without a care in the world. When gay parents pop up in a TV ad, represented just like any other family. When Moonlight wins the Oscar and It’s A Sin is the biggest show of the year. When I mention I have a husband on a Zoom call to strangers and nobody bats an eyelid.
Don’t get me wrong, the shame never quite goes away entirely. And we’re some way from a world where all LGBTQ+ people are free to be themselves and each and every one can live our lives to the full.
But because of the struggles and sacrifices of the women and men who came before me, I’m grateful that I can generally make my way through life without having to hide who I am and who I love.
Head high. With pride. And probably a tight vest or two.