Just in time for Pride Canterbury 2019, Alex Clifford tells us about her experience of being part of the LGBT+ community and what pride means to her.
As with many members of our community, Pride, for me is complicated. I think it is important to note that I do speak from a position of great privilege. As a bisexual white woman who has been in straight-passing relationships most of her life, my experience has and will always greatly differ from other queer people.
As a teenager, I longed for the chance to walk in a parade and to feel connected to other LGBTQ+ people in solidarity. My first Pride, Canterbury 2017, I was a little disappointed to find that I wasn’t suddenly gifted a new queer family on arrival. I wandered around on my own, wondering when all the noise and bright outfits would relate to me and how I felt inside.
I couldn’t understand how the Pride of the eighties and nineties I’d seen in documentaries or read accounts of had translated to this festival. Where were the protest signs, the clashes, where even were the homophobes? I knew from personal experience and reading the news that we certainly hadn’t eradicated homophobia and transphobia from the world by a very long shot, so why were we all pretending it was okay for an afternoon in June? In the two years since, I’ve come a bit more to terms with our Pride.
I do wish that in our city we had retained a little more of the protest element, but I know that not everyone in our queer community feels the same. Pride is ultimately, very personal. When I walk in the parade this year, I know I will feel as emotional as I always do. Being able to be so visibly, safely queer, when doing so even in my own lifetime has desperately endangered people, brings a great sense of gratitude. Year on year marching gains meaning for me, as I walk beside friends and learn what the event means to them. I’ve begun to understand the literal definition of pride.
It’s being proud of who you are, despite there being many who want you to feel shame. It’s seeing yourself in contrast to a lot of society and being utterly unashamed of that fact. I know more directly now that this kind of pride cannot be felt in the same way by straight people, and that’s why it’s so vital to the LBGTQ+ community. I have related more lately to the bright outfits, as a viscerally visible expression of identity, and I did gain a family, though it was not the one I expected.
My definitions of this month will certainly change over the years as I grow and learn from others and the world changes. It certainly has changed meaning for me over the last year and a bit, since I have been walking the parade with my girlfriend. Right now, Pride for me means visibility, community and celebration.
JOIN US AT CANTERBURY PRIDE 2019
Pride Canterbury 2019 is taking place on Saturday 15th June from 11am. Pride Canterbury is a spectacular celebration of LGBT+ identity for the whole family set in the heart of Canterbury. Featuring a parade through Canterbury High Street, followed by live entertainment with food and drink in the Dane John Gardens. Join 20,000 other people to come together to celebrate diversity, equality and progress.
There's still an opportunity to represent Christ Church in the Pride Parade! Register to walk in the Parade for FREE here.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Completing a MA in Modern History
Twitter - @FandomHist
Postgraduate Student Officer for CCSU
President of Dungeons and Dragons Society