From my desk on Friday, I could see the Rainbow Flag flying high and proud from the Mansion House, the Royal Exchange, the Bank of England, and even the Old Bailey, where not so many years ago gay men were tried and convicted for the crime of simply being born as themselves. As night fell, I saw the National Theatre and London’s South Bank lit up in the colours of the rainbow. Yet, I see so many people asking why we need Pride, why we ‘keep going on about it’, and why we need to ‘flaunt’ our lifestyles in people’s faces.
Why? Because it’s illegal to be LGBT in 78 countries, including my own. Because in 9 of those, being LGBT is punishable by death. Because we still don’t have equal marriage in the UK - same sex couples cannot marry in Northern Ireland. Because LGBT people in Uganda and Malaysia and Nigeria and Jamaica and Russia are brutalised every single day for the simple fact of being themselves. Because in Iran they’re hanged from cranes and not too far away from there, ISIS throws them off the roofs of buildings. Because in the US transgender people are abused and hurt every day, and have to fight to just use a bathroom. Because in Chechnya, LGBT people are entrapped and then thrown in concentration camps. Because in the UK 1 in 8 LGBT people have lost a job because of homophobia and the same proportion of transgender people have been assaulted physically by colleagues or customers in the workplace. Because across the majority of the globe, it’s considered a crime to have simply been born the way we are.
In London and New York we have the privilege to walk the streets, holding the hands of our partners, our faces painted with rainbows, embracing our true selves regardless of gender and sexual orientation.
And we did it yesterday, and we will do it every day - we will do it for ourselves, and for those who live in places where they cannot. And until each and every LGBT person anywhere and everywhere can live their lives with dignity and equality, without fear, and with their head held high, we will be angry, we will protest, we will organise, and we will celebrate being different.
🏳️🌈AND SO WE MARCHED🏳️🌈 The most incredible privilege marching with @nycmayorsoffice @nycmayor Bill de Blasio and @nycfirstlady Chirlane McCray leading New York City Pride 2018, sharing this moment with the one and only Fabrice Houdart and his twins, the most smartly dressed boys in NYC, and Matthew McMorrow. And we got to see Kenita Placide kick off the march as Grand Marshal alongside Billy Jean King! No city does Pride like New York - the mother of all Prides. Pride for me is not a party or a parade. It’s a march. It is political. It is a protest. To hear the Mayor of one of the greatest cities on earth chanting “No Hate, No Fear, Everyone is Welcome Here” while walking through its streets, surrounded by millions of people - men, women, children, non-binary, gay, lesbian, straight, trans, queer, black, brown, white - all coming together to commit themselves to the cause of equality for all. Truly emotional. A powerful and profound experience that was exhilarating and empowering.
Thank you @fhoudart and @matthew_mcmorrow for making this happen!