I Went to Pride!

Yesterday was such a brilliant day. To be honest, it was the best day I’ve had in such a long while. Why? Because yesterday, I went to Pride in London for the second time (the first time was two years ago). The sun was shining (a lot); my voice is still a bit rusty but I feel like I truly made memories that will last a lifetime.

It took a bit of organisation, first of all. Originally, it was going to be a group from school – me, Wren and our other friend who’s moving abroad in a week or so for university. Then, I invited one of my closest friends, Lu, because she’s a fabulous bean and I haven’t seen her in months. Pearl – who I talk about here – was added to our group too, along with her two sisters and I was so hyped for that that I did a lot of screeching. My other friend who I’ve known since I was 4, Ivy, would also be at Pride and so we planned to meet her as well. In the morning, Lu and I met at a train station, then met her friend, before I went off to have a really early lunch with someone I hadn’t seen in months. As you can tell, there was a lot of “And then we met this person!”

The friend I hadn’t seen in months was actually a woman who had been my chaperone in the filming I did in December last year. Her name’s Chris and I hadn’t seen her in six months. Despite that, as soon as I saw her, I immediately felt just as I had when I’d seen her last – we joked, insulted each other, laughed and almost cried. We went to a cafe, spoke about our lives and had such a lovely time. I forgot how much I got on with her but hopefully, we should be seeing each other soon – I think there are some people who will remain in your life, no matter how much time goes between you seeing each other. Saying goodbye wasn’t difficult, simply because of that.

I sometimes get an attitude where planning isn’t so important. That was why, after having met Chris, we then met up with the friends who we’d originally organised the day with. Waiting outside Leicester Square station, it took a while for them to find us but when they did, I full-on screamed and rushed at Wren. Our other friend from school (who is a genuine icon) was there too so our group, who now numbered five, wandered off to find the parade. Along the way, Lu and I got rainbow flags; Wren helped me tie it to my cane (and by helped, I mean did it for me because I’m pathetic). Again, I screamed a lot as we neared the sounds of music and cheering.

Eventually, after much walking through crowds and stopping to see people going past us, we found a spot by some railings in Trafalgar Square. The parade would be passing directly beneath us – we were one of the first people there and so we stood right by the railings. As soon as the parade started, a huge cheer went up: people blew whistles and screamed and the whole square was a mass of noise and celebration. That continued as everyone passed us – I honestly roared at one point. After a lot of attempts, Pearl and her sisters found us and then Mit (another friend I met through blogging) arrived. Everyone was there and because I couldn’t see the parade, what filled me with joy was all my friends being there as the celebration and cheers swirled around us. It was so beautiful; Lu and I were yelling; I tried to hug everyone: it felt like I was on top of the world for a brief moment.

After a bit of time, when the heat was increasing and we felt our energy declining, we decided to leave the parade. Instead, we walked to a cafe and then to St. James’s Park, the sun beating down as I almost melted. Going through the streets whilst laughing and then finally arriving at the park, finding a place to sit and then just chatting was just as special as the parade. It was calm: some of us talked; some of us watched the football game “FOOTBALLs COMING HOME) and some of us decided it would be a great idea to climb a tree. Pearl, her sisters and her friend had to leave early to say goodbye to some kittens they’d been fostering (which was sad because seeing them again was so wonderful) and after that, Ivy arrived with a friend of hers. By the end of it, we were pretty much sitting in a circle, with two or three conversations going on at once as the weather slowly started to become less humid.

At around half 5, Ivy, her friend and I went back to her house. I felt quite emotional saying goodbye: I hugged Mit until it was painful, wailed at Lu that I loved her and told our school friend that I was proud of her – as she’s moving abroad and I may never see her again. A day was over that felt important, where I was entirely present and loved by people.

I smiled, or felt happy inside, all day which is a rarity for me. Not only was the atmosphere electric and amazing but I was surrounded by people who I love and who have become special to me in their individual ways. We laughed and I screeched and it lived up to a day of acceptance for me, where my identity – whatever that may turn out to be – was alright because people around me loved me. I felt like I truly connected with everything.

That’s what I live for. And I want to repeat those kinds of days for as long as possible, save up the snapshots of memory from Pride and love and beauty to hold with me, to remind me that though my identity can change, I’ll still be marching forward in the parade of existence and no one can stop me from feeling that euphoria.

From Elm 🙂

Why Pride Is Important – My Thoughts and Yours

Today is the last day of Pride Month and it makes me a little sad that I haven’t written posts pertaining to it. However, there are a few reasons why Pride is a special month and I want them to be celebrated. In fact – this is a post mostly for you.

Simply put, Pride is important both as a way to express awareness about the LGBTQ+ community to those who aren’t LGBTQ+ but it also helps to let people find a place in the world who don’t feel like they fit anywhere. It’s a form of belonging but also a way to let people question who they are, as safely as they can. Of course, this isn’t exclusive to Pride Month but the conversations that can be started when acceptance is promoted so strongly from so many sources can be invaluable and can start the process of somebody feeling happy enough with how they feel about themselves to begin to ‘come out’, or to be more open with who they are.

Expressing your identity’ in the age of the Internet and modern technology may be easier nowadays then it was 50 years ago but it isn’t easy for everyone. There are still countries and communities in which being attracted to someone of the same sex or gender isn’t accepted as readily; social stigma against many parts of the LGBTQ+ community is still high, even within the LGBTQ+ community itself. Just because I, for instance, didn’t experience much homophobia growing up, doesn’t mean other people haven’t or won’t. This month can allow people to feel a little more secure in their identity, to belong to a community that accepts them when others may not.

Some may ask why Pride is necessary, if the world is more accepting now. However, not only is it necessary for those who aren’t accepted but also for those who don’t fit in with the ‘traditional’ binary idea of sexuality, romantic attraction or gender; for those who wish to celebrate their identity, it’s important. It can take any form, not just marches or parades or material things, but in discussions and collections of thought. It shouldn’t be limited or constrained to inaccessible forms of expression. Everyone is involved in Pride, not just those who speak the loudest.

What makes Pride amazing is the community surrounding it. So many people express their identity, in whatever way they wish to. It is – and should be – about positivity and inclusivity. On that note, I want to share with you a list of bloggers and blog posts who have done, and are doing, just that.

Kirithika opens up about her bisexuality on her blog, especially on how she felt about telling the important people in her life and how her understanding of her sexuality has developed over time.

Lia discusses Aphobia in the media and characters having happy endings that don’t depend on a romantic plotline.

Kel guest posted on Bethany’s blog about people’s perceptions of LGBTQ+ (in a hilarious way), as well as celebrating identity and discussing his sexuality.

Em explains her thoughts about her own identity and how confusing it can be, particularly highlighting how it can and has changed over time; it’s a truly beautiful post.

Bethany writes about her sexuality journey as part of her Pride Month posts, discussing asexuality and how school influenced her; all of her Pride posts are amazing!

Lu discusses 4 LGBTQ+ things she wants to see represented more in YA as well as talking about internalised homophobia, in the first part of her Coming Out series.

Victoria wrote about whether labels were always necessary to identify yourself in a really thought-provoking and inclusive post, taking into account all sexualities and genders in the community.

All of these posts are wonderful and I’d encourage you to read as many as you can; each has a unique voice and highlights different parts of the community, raising important points that should be talked about.

Pride goes beyond the month of June. I shouldn’t be sad about not writing posts to do with it because by expressing my identity, and by others expressing theirs, we keep the spirit of Pride alive. We show ourselves and others that being who we are should be respected and understood and that the world can be a bright place, if you give people the chance to make it so.

Love from Elm 🙂

I Went to Pride!

I have honestly had one of the best days of my life – I’m still smiling and I feel unbelievably happy. Why? Because I went to my FIRST EVER PRIDE!!! (Okay Elm CALM)

Yesterday, Ivy (one of my best friends ever) and I organised a trip to London. We needed to buy French books – or well, we wanted to – and she’d found this really cute little European bookshop that sold so many books in different languages (Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, German and obviously French). We just decided to go and find it, by taking a bus and a train and searching around the surrounding streets.

We found it, and it was so so nice! The street it was on was so pretty and picturesque (so I was told) and then we spent ages in the shop. It was quiet, peaceful and amazing and is just the kind of little place that makes London so beautiful. After we left, we got something to eat and sat in this random covered walkway and chatted.

It was whilst we were sitting there that we talked about Pride. Both she and I wanted to go, but there was a little fear of anything happening that would be dangerous, due to the recent Orlando shootings. Because we’re spontaneous and we wanted to see what it was like, we hopped on a train (okay no, we just got on whilst being a bit nervous) to Piccadilly Circus.

God, I can’t even describe to you how I felt when we stepped off that tube and there was just noise as we entered the station proper. “ALL PEOPLE GOING TO THE PARADE, USE EXIT 4!” The nervousness and excitement was mounting and I had to breathe deeply to try and calm myself. We got out of the station, heard the music and cheering and whistles and then we were at Pride and it was beautiful.

I never quite understood the sentiment that you could get so emotional that it became overwhelming, but that’s EXACTLY how it felt in the first few minutes. The sun was shining and we were just walking through crowds, going back and forth through different streets. There were so many people, wearing “I Am Gay” t-shirts, signs that said “Love wins!” “Love is united!” and confetti and balloons and just INSANITY.

Ivy described it all to me. There were couples holding hands, kissing, and random people with rainbow dreadlocks wandering down the streets. The windows of shops and the archways were FULL of rainbows, Pride flags, music played from pretty much everywhere and all the people seemed to be talking and laughing. “I SAY LONDON, YOU SAY PRIDE!” was the highlight of when we actually got involved in crowds.

There were some streets that were quiet, and some that were so crowded that I couldn’t get my cane out and walk because I’d hit people. I kept shrieking “SORRY!” whilst holding Ivy’s arm, and cheering at random points throughout the times when different busses were going past.

We were going to meet Ivy’s friends on a whim, but that didn’t happen. We spent ages trying to find them, wandering up and down from Piccadilly to Trafalgar Square and back, and THEN it started raining. It didn’t quell the atmosphere, though; people were still clapping and cheering and throwing balloons.

I bought a rainbow Sash, wore it and took pictures which I then put on Facebook. It’s the first time I’ve more or less publicly declared I’m not straight. It felt so bloody freeing because I was wearing something with a rainbow on it, surrounded by crowds of people who were PROUD to be who they were.

The highlight of it was definitely having Ivy there. We were in London, at Pride which we hadn’t planned, properly enjoying ourselves and smiling. I loved it and I’m going next year, and nothing can damn well stop me.

I’m so happy, because my dad called me up before we went and basically told us we should. I said I was scared and he just said, “You should go, Elm.” He was proud of me for going and that’s the main thing that convinced me I COULD do this. He didn’t even bat an eyelid and was so so happy when I called him, through cheering crowds and yelled, “I’m at Pride, dad!”

Even my mum didn’t kick up a fuss when she saw it on Facebook. To be honest, even if she had, I wouldn’t have cared. I don’t think anything could ruin this day for me.

Fear didn’t stop people from having a good time. It didn’t stop us from smiling and from feeling we were part of something. We knew no one around us, but that was so good; we were people in a crowd of those who wanted to be there.

I’m proud to be part of the community. I’m proud that I had the confidence to just go to Pride because I FELT like that. I felt so incredibly comfortable with Ivy beside me, because we were just being us and revelling in the fact that WE WERE AT PRIDE, spontaneously.

Today was brilliant. Today was happiness, and freedom, and two girls’ unplanned journey into a world of loud music and amazingly happy people. Today was a leap into the new, and a day that started off with books and ended with a smile.

Today was Pride, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Unplanned or not, today was being proud of who we are.

From Elm 🙂