My first taste of pride was last summer, when I walked through London on the day of its parade on my way to a university open day. In the morning, as my friends and I walked from St Pancras International to Euston station, the excitement in the air was palpable. In all my childhood memories of growing up in London, I have no recollection of seeing so many people dressed in such colourful outfits; it was shocking to see crowds covered in glitter, wearing pink tutus and carrying massive rainbow flags along the grey streets of the capital. I loved it! That afternoon, as I went back through London to go home, the excitement from the morning hadn’t disappeared and I was gutted to have missed what appeared to have been a really fun event. It made me determined to go to a pride parade in the following year.
Canterbury Pride 2017 was my first, but certainly not my last, Pride. It was the most exhilarating day full of colour, glitter and live music. In the morning, my friends and I walked in the parade which ended in The Dane John Gardens, where we set up a picnic blanket to the side of the main stage so we could sit down when our feet got too tired from dancing.
It was such a phenomenal day. Generally, I write in my diary very sporadically, but my entry from that day is 4 pages long, if that’s any indication of how exciting it was. I got free stickers, condoms and balloons, leaflets on mental health, sexual health and gay rights (I’ll leave info at the end if you want to read more about any of these things), there was art, food and drinks for sale, and I even found a stall selling vegetarian and vegan pastries!
What really struck me about that day was how unrestricted and free I felt. I wore glitter on my face for the first time since I was a toddler, even though it’s something I’ve wanted to try for ages and wore bright red lipstick- another thing that I love but don’t always feel very confident doing. Although I was always brought up with this idea that I can be anything I want to be, in that moment, it felt so much more than a concept; it was my reality. I was being the person I wanted to be by dancing and singing lyrics I only half knew and meeting new people and being honest with myself and others about my sexuality. It was incredibly empowering.
This felt especially important as recently I’ve had a lot of cause for self-doubt and have asked myself this reoccurring question ‘am I good enough?’. I felt so accepted by my friends and by strangers at Pride when I was utterly myself that I realised that I am enough (whatever that means) just as I am. Pride for me was more than just a parade or a festival. It was an opportunity to think more about my identity and sexuality and by being part of such a diverse crowd, it made me feel so comfortable to be myself.
Pride is about being proud of who you are and being unapologetically yourself, because as Oscar Wilde once said “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”.
For mental health help: http://www.thinkaction.org.uk
For sexual health advice: http://sexualhealth.gov.mt
Sign this petition to help stop the abducting and killing of gay men in Chechnya: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/stop-abducting-and-killing-gay-men-chechnya