Open Invitation to walk with Pride
Yes its that time of the year and I think it’s fair enough to say that I’m resurrected every September to march on the Reading Pride parade.
People often ask me why I never walk in Civilian Clothes and my reason for marching in costume is somewhat ambiguous but I’ll give it a try!
Of course, last year I did walk in civilian clothes as I had been repatriated back from Bulgaria following an accident abroad. I was determined to walk on the parade – even though I should have been resting – but my compound fracture meant that high heels were a no-no and I refuse to wear flats.
I did however launch the OK2BGAY Campaign at the festival in 2011 and visitors recorded messages of support for those dealing with coming out. During that time, I wrote an article on my other blog about something that I had started noticing on the gay scene and I called it ‘Drag Hate‘. It actually answers why I feel the need to dress up for the pride parade.
As an LGBT Campaigner, I have always held the view that blatant is better than latent. Visibility is the best weapon in our arsenal and love it or hate it, drag gets noticed.
I have tended to find that there is a lot of ‘drag hate’ radiating from younger LGBT people. I guess they either have no knowledge of the history of the gay rights movement or perhaps drag suggests to them a less than masculine outlook. I guess Drag often reminds men who are trying to be straight acting that they’re not straight. A Drag Queen isn’t less of a man either for wearing a dress – believe me, it takes skill to wear heels of the size that I do and apply make up with precision! I know that people are shocked when I tell them – especially when my head is shaved like it often is!
There have been many atrocities in our struggle for equality. Even today we see people set on fire in African countries for being gay. In the western world, we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots though there is still a long way to go.
In case you didn’t know, the Stonewall riots were relatively recent in 1969 – the marker of the gay rights movement. On June 28 1969 at about 1.20am, 8 New York City Police Men raided the Stonewall Inn. On arrival, standard procedure was for the bar’s patrons to line up and have their ID checked. If any of the patrons were dressed as women, they were to be arrested. On this night in question, the drag queens made a stand and refused to go with the police or show their ID. The police lost control of the situation and the crowd began to riot. This happened again and again. Up until this point, gay people hid behind closed doors and these riots brought gay people onto the streets and organisations were formed to fight for gay rights. By the 70′s, Gay Pride marches started to take place throughout the world – including in Reading where I’ll be marching too.
I would like to extend an open invitation to all that know me – and to those that don’t – to join the Reading Pride parade on September 8th from 11am outside of the Civic Offices. Although the Parade is Circus themed, there’s no requirement to dress up. Just don’t criticise those that do! In a year where we’re fighting for marriage equality, this is an opportunity to show Reading that our community is as diverse an any other community and shouldn’t be denied the rights that give us full equality.
Here are some pictures of me at Reading Pride over the years!
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