The Gay Pride Festival or LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender) Pride Festival as it has become latterly known is an international celebration of gay culture and all things queer. The message is clearly about being proud of who you are hence the name Pride which is used as an antonym for shame which has been used to control, oppress and generally fuck us over for long enough.
Pride was born out of the Stonewall riots in 69 when the cops in New York City performed raids on bars till the gays fought back Vive la revolution and quite right too. Pride has increased the presence and voice of gay people both locally and on the world’s stage giving us a bigger voice in life the universe and everything. The rainbow flag proudly flies outside of gay bars and organizations and is the symbol of Pride.
The very first Pride march was in 1970 and was proposed by Craig Rodwell. Along with his partner Fred Sargeant, Ellen Broidy & Linda Rhodes they championed the resolution for a march every year on the last Saturday in June to commemorate the Christopher street demonstrations. It was called The Christopher Street Liberation Day. This became the first Pride march which is now celebrated annually around the world.
I think it has to be said we owe a real debt of gratitude to these guys as it has been a fore runner to claiming many of the rights we have today. As a small town boy attending my first march it was a real proud moment for me. I walked down the street and blew my whistle for all of the world to see. Clichés aside I really felt proud to be gay as I’d had to hide it for so long. The beauty was we all came together for that one day, gay, lesbian, black, white, transgender, drag queens, bears, leather queens, and families.
I remember on the march seeing people I knew some of whom where shocked to see corporate Xander in make up and stillies camping it up as gay as gay could be. I really didn’t care I was on cloud ten and the march was just the beginning. Even the cops who lined the route where congenial and posed for pics with every mo in a 5 mile radius with a yen for men in uniform. The final venue was like a fairground with a pop concert and sea of people for miles and miles waiting patiently for their favorite gay icon to grace the stage.
As a performer I have shared the stage with many A’listers and pinched myself to ensure I wasn’t dreaming. Getting to perform for the gay community on mass was an amazing buzz. Some disinterested and eager to see the A’ listers, some with that come on impress me look, but most like me happy to be there and to share in a celebration of not only their God given sexuality, but their right to be exactly who they where and not to have to apologize to anyone for it.
Pride is an amazing and inspiring festival which has many different meanings, memories for those of us who are gay, bi, Trans, heterosexual or undecided. It is there to enjoy and embrace and is a reminder to actually be proud of who you are. No-one can give that pride to you, but many will try to take it away. As we march and dance and enjoy the festivities remember those who have been instrumental in enabling our right to celebrate. If you see me at the festivities blowing my whistle, be sure to say hey.
Peace and Luv, Xan x
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Xander Gibb has written for many publications and writes with an unapologetic response to the world around.