Britain has had a pretty divisive few weeks. The Brexit referendum has torn apart communities and families, with recriminations and protests coming thick and fast. But for a few hours at least London was full of colour and celebration as the annual Pride in London parade made its way down Regents Street towards The Mall. The streets were full of people cheering, smiling, hugging and coming together to celebrate equality.
For a while at least we forgot our differences and the uncertainty of the future to live in the moment. We danced. We cheered. We smiled and laughed. Even the most introverted seemed to drawn in and were caught with paint on their faces and firing bubbles into the air.
Corporates have joined the cause
The corporate machines turned out too, mixing their floats and processions amongst the charities, unions and support groups. And while some might complain about the “commercialisation” of the parade I saw how far gay rights have come in the UK. That Lloyds Bank, Tesco and Network Rail could turn up, dress up and dance with the crowd shows, to me at least, how far we’ve come.
Of course there is more to do. Homophobia and transphobia are seen as “acceptable” in some parts of society and supported with dogmas and doctrines that are complex and disrespectful in their nature. Sometimes these manifest themselves explicitly in statements or actions that seek to confront LGBT people and condemn them. Other times they’re casual attitudes that the holders may not even be aware of and yet which restrict or curtail opportunities, or make life a little harder to enjoy.
Can we move forwards from here?
My hope is that in the UK at least we’ll reach a point within the next decade where those who hold such views are truly on the margins. Where they can’t slip “I’ve nothing against gays but…” into the start of a sentence to soften their message of hate without being directly challenged. Where hearing about your same sex partner is as natural as listening to any other conversation.
So well done to Pride for being a focus to get us this far, but let’s not forget there’s further to go.