I have never felt proud of my sexuality. It’s not a source of pride for me. It is simply a matter of fact. Concepts of gratitude, accomplishment and ownership came to me in light of Manchester’s recent LGBT+ Pride events. I thought I’d try and work it out here.
Pride: the parade
I really enjoy going to watch the Pride parade and waving my flag and whooping support for nearly everything that goes past me.
Line dancing! Whoop!
Lost cyclist who didn’t know the roads were shut! Whoohoop!
I don’t go into the Pride Festival because it’s just not my thing (lots of crowds, lots of alcohol, not lots of space). But I live for the parade.
It’s a great way to be introduced to different kinds of LGBT+ friendly things going on in Manchester (but yes, the seemingly corporate sponsorship takeover is kind of annoying) and suddenly the whole of the city becomes LGBT+.
For one day, the whole city, the whole world, feels like it becomes ours. It’s hard to explain how amazing that feels.
Rainbows: everywhere. Glitter: everywhere. Love and fun and acceptance: everywhere. All the lesbians that you never see anywhere ever suddenly swarm the city centre. And every other Pride brings with it a new generation of young people with new ideas and feelings and experiences about growing up LGBT+ or coming out or being allies etc.
It’s magical. It really is.
And it’s not about sex. It’s about expressing a freedom that others have fought and died for and showing solidarity for those who still do.
But I don’t feel proud.
What does make me proud?
Pride for me can only come from something I have personally achieved.
I am proud of my education. I worked damn hard from GCSE to A Level, even harder for Masters and worked full time whilst getting my Postgraduate Diploma. I’m damn proud of myself for that.
I’m proud of my career. Seven years now and I’m still loving it. I’m constantly learning about different histories, solving different problems and working with different people. I’m proud of myself for those efforts.
I’m proud of my consultancy business. Not just having the guts to put myself out there solo but also for what I have done with it.
I’m proud of my mental health. I was desperately without it for a long time, a long time ago, but I built it up by myself and now I’m better than ever.
These are all things I’ve worked for and I feel proud of them, proud of myself because of them.
I feel differently about my sexuality. It isn’t something I have to work at or achieve. It’s just there. As much a natural undecided part of me as my sex, eye colour, being right handed or having a teeny tiny speech impediment. I never had any trouble coming to terms with it or coming out.
It was just there. Just me.
Just little old gay me.
I know that I can only be as dismissive and blase about my sexuality because other people months, years and decades before me have fought, cried, struggled and died for my right to not be demonised for being gay in this country at this time.
Possibly, although feel free to let me know if you feel differently, people who feel proud of their sexuality see it inextricably linked to those acts of freedom and those rights movements that are a part of their community’s history. This is a wonderful expression of solidarity and legacy and it’s really heartwarming to see.
But, since I do not really engage in any structured way with the LGBT+ community, and since I was not around to fight these fights, I have no personal achievement embedded in them. Therefore they are not a source of pride for me.
I also do not feel proud of other people’s achievements because they are their own and I hold no shares in them. I can be happy for someone, definitely. But not proud (so far). Pride is too personal and I selfishly keep it all to myself, but I have lots of happiness to share with whoever I choose.
Therefore, instead of feeling proud of the community, proud of those who fought, proud of those who still do, I feel grateful. Angry on their behalf, perhaps. But mainly grateful.
I’m grateful that it is now illegal to discriminate against me for my sexuality.
I’m grateful that there are places that not only are okay with me being gay, but that welcome me because of it.
I am grateful that I can get married if I wish (need someone to be my wife first – baby steps, Heather, baby steps).
I am therefore grateful to all of those people who fought for that. Who made that happen for me.
It’s all personal
Sexuality is of course, a very personal thing. We are all complex creatures and sexual identity is as personal as it gets. I’m not saying that this way or that way or any way, in which a person sees their relationship with their own sexuality, is unjustified (although some are certainly healthier than others).
However, I would like to hear what people think about pride vs/with Pride.
What do you think? What have been your thoughts?