This Saturday sees the huge carnival that is Pride in London as hundreds of people march through central London and thousands of people watch and support them from the sidelines. It is one of the highlights of my calendar as I take my place in the parade. I am not the most outgoing, and certainly not the most flamboyant of people, and for many years I avoided Pride but I slowly became convinced of its importance and why it was right to be involved. This year I feel that need all the more passionately in the light of the horrifying events in Orlando less than a fortnight ago. Those attacks are a more eloquent reason as to why Pride events are important than all the words that could be written. Scores of lives snatched away through one person’s ignorance, hatred and loathing of the difference. We must continue to march to underscore the need to accept difference and to celebrate it and to make events like Orlando a distant memory and never again a present experience.
I found myself reflecting that the USA should be one of the best places in the world to be LGBT and yet we have seen in recent weeks and months that it is far from the case. From states victimising transgender people with laws to dictate which restroom to use to the ever present hatred of extreme religious figures singling out LGBT people. The events in Orlando happen within a context and the context in the US is far from good, and yet it ought to be so much better. The US was a nation that forged itself in rebellion to the perceived tyranny of British rule and issued a declaration of Independence in July 1776. That declaration set in writing the grievances of a nation but also put forward a vision of something better.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The above quote is the very second sentence of the declaration of Independence, it asserts universal equality as a self-evident reality. It is there in plain words with no qualification. All are created equal and in possession of unalienable rights. That means rights that cannot be abridged, circumscribed or denied; the rights are not separable from the status of equal humanity. That should give huge hope to the LGBT community in the US, the words that set in train the foundation of their country covers them “all men are created equal”. It is why I say that the US should be a beacon to the world on these issues and everyone should agitate for them to live up to their founding ideals and make those words a more perfect reality in this 21st Century.
I am sure that the Pride event in London will once more reflect solidarity with the LGBT community in Orlando in their continuing hours of grief and suffering. However the events are a reflection of the wider solidarity with LGBT communities around the world for whom the ability to live the lives they choose as the people they are is little but a fantasy. For those in Russia facing state sanctioned and endorsed hostility and prejudice, for those in African nations facing criminal charges for being different and for those in the Middle East facing death in often sickening circumstance simply for loving in a different way. All this will certainly be on my mind as I once again overcome my natural fear of being looked at or watched to put myself in the middle of another Pride march. A march is a disciplined progress from one point to a destination, we have yet to reach that destination and so year in and year out the march must continue!