Saturday 23 August 2014

Manchester Pride: Love is not a crime

Pride against prejudice
From the 1990s, I have attended quite a few gay prides, people of difference and diversity united in common purpose of living and letting live.
This celebration of our humanity and acceptance has always attracted me because it speaks to the kind of thinking I have, that all can live in peace together if we accept and respect each other.
In London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Playa del Ingles, Vienna, Zurich, Antwerp, Brussels, Cologne, Hamburg and many other places I cannot remember, I have watched streets fill up with crowds young and old, of all races, of all sexualities and of all beliefs to watch the spectacle, cheer on and have a lovely day.
All out for fun
Never have I seen or witnessed a counter protest, but an engagement of fun that almost forgets the seriousness of what is being celebrated.
The stranglehold of religion and Victorian values on our society with regards to what we consider moral or immoral has been lifted in most cases, many battles for equality won, but the war still rages in many lands where difference and diversity on the grounds of sexuality is criminalised.
Today, the Manchester Pride march/parade passed right in front of my house, at first, I watch from a window, then stepped out unto the front porch of my building to watch and take pictures.
We are many and one
The participants marching past as I stepped out was first the Suffolk Police and then the Greater Manchester Police, in full uniform and with a marching band, they were as involved as anyone else and at the same time I thought about the countries where the police is the enemy, the instrument of the state to persecute and prosecute difference on the basis of sexuality.
Organisations, institutions, political parties, unions, companies, sports teams, hospitals, civil service groups, activities groups and many others marches past as certain even held up placards not forgetting where persecution persists, especially in Nigeria.
Pride in my country
For the very first time of attending a Pride march, I suddenly felt emotional and even shed a tear, to think of the country I live in, the freedom of expression, the celebration of diversity and the fighting for rights of others, it dawned on me the great privilege we have along with the need to keep speaking up for those who have no voice.
More pertinently, the best message to my reading was on a placard, it read, “Love is not a crime”, who we choose to love, the partner being adult and with the choice and opportunity should never ever be the business of anyone else apart from those involved in that relationship.
The ultimate pursuit of happiness is in finding love and celebrating it, and that is what I think the gay Prides are all about. Indeed, I would want more representation of ethnic communities and minorities, my surprise and happiness at seeing ladies wearing hijabs on the march, shows we are getting there.
The Manchester Pride would run for 4 days and we are just on the second day.

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