SHOULD PRIDE BE "FAMILY FRIENDLY"?
As the summer comes to an end, so does Pride season. One topic that seemed to be coming up a lot this year was the issue of children at Pride events and how appropriate it is. For a long time Pride has promoted itself as a family friendly day, but several events have appeared to whitewash the protest element in order to “sanitise” the event into a purely family event. My take on this is that everyone is welcome at Pride but they have to keep in mind what the event is actually for and respect it. It didn’t start off with happy families strolling through the streets with rainbow flags. It began as transgendered people (notably of colour) throwing rocks at the police outside the Stonewall Inn in New York saying “Enough is enough!”
For years the NYPD had raided gay bars and arrested its patrons for homosexual activity and one night the LGBTQ+ community had had all they were willing to take. Let us not forget that the fight for equality isn’t over. By trying to create a heteronormative Pride these event organisers are insulting the LGBTQ+ community and all the battles we have had to fight in order to secure a level of acceptance in the world. Not to mention in some areas of the world people are executed by the state for being gay, bi or transgendered.
One such bigoted event came to my attention this year. The Rhondda Pride. Indeed, it is the first Pride I am aware of to be held in the South Wales valleys (An area not renowned for being tolerant) so it is to be applauded. However, the Cardiff leather community had written to the organisers and offered to attend to represent that aspect of LGBTQ+ people. They were told they weren’t welcome and that as it was a family event it would be inappropriate to have men in “bondage gear” and full leathers. What they weren’t expecting was for the incident to go viral with lots of angry people commenting on how excluding members of the gay scene was antithesis to what Pride stands for.
They shut down their social media temporarily and came back a few weeks later apologising and appearing to take a different stance. The prejudice continued somewhat on their Facebook page though and a lot of LGBTQ+ people have chosen to boycott this event.
Ultimately, Children at these events would probably not even comment on the “pups” or other fetishists as they would see it as a type of fancy dress and wouldn’t equate it with anything sexual anyway. However, if they did ask their parents awkward questions then the adult thing to do is to talk to your children about sex. By keeping an aura of shame and “dirtiness” around sex you create a society with a deep neurosis around sexuality, which is exactly why we needed Pride in the first place. Let us not go back to skulking in the shadows, hiding away like a dirty secret. We are human beings and we deserve equality and respect. If a bunch of straight parents are outraged at the idea of gay people having sex lives then they can either attend Pride and learn a bit more about us, or they can stay the fuck away and mind their own business. Their permission is not needed.
And as for Rhondda Pride, I hope that if it returns next year they have a long think about what they want their event to be, and if it doesn’t align with the values we hold then they should drop the “Pride” name and maybe appropriate someone else’s battles.
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