Not Proud – London Pride 2017

By Fran Springfield

As an out gay woman I have always loved going to Pride. From small events to the big London parade, I have always felt part of a wonderful celebratory community. But not this year.

The posters and Equinox alphabet video, as part of their ‘Commit to Something’ campaign, do not resonate with me at all. The furore of complaints in the gay press has assured me I’m not alone in my unhappiness.

Let me dissect the video, a short film entitled “LGBTQ Alphabet: Six Letters Will Never Be Enough.” The music was good, great dancers too. I like the idea of of using the LGBTQI alphabet soup as way of being inclusive. But they just got it so wrong. This is the list they used:

Here is the full list of the alphabet definitions described in the video:

A – Ally

B – Bisexual

C – Coming out

D – Drag

E – Exhibitionist

F – Femme

G – Gay

H – Heteroflexibile

I – Intersex

J – Justified

K – Kink

L – Lesbian

M – Masc

N – Non-binary

O – Out

P – Pansexual

Q – Queer

R – Real

S – S & M

T – Trans

U – Undecided

V – Vogue

W – Womxn

X – Xtravagant

Y – You

Z – Ze | Zir

A for Ally – because?  Is the implication that we still need allies?  This is a Pride video – the hint is in the title – why do we need to be proud that we have allies? Pride is about celebrating our community. Having “straight” allies is fine, but Pride is about us.

Why not have A for androgyny? What about asexuality or agender?

B and C are fine, but D for drag should mention Drag Kings too and what about D for Dyke?

E I can cope with, but F for Femme? Acceptable but hardly used these days.

Surely F for Fluid as in Gender Fluid is much more relevant? Especially as it is an identity which more younger people are comfortable with.

H, works, even though it includes “hetro”.

I’m particularly pleased that I for intersex was included is being more visible. For people who are born with any of the complexities involved in that diagnosis, more visibility, awareness and understanding can only be a good thing. Though again, it could have been used to show that being intersex is a diverse identity, with some people presenting as male, others as female and a number of identities in between.

J to M are self-explanatory – though Masc is a new descriptor to me – and is very male-centric.

I’m delighted that N for non-binary is there – again this is giving greater visibility for an identity that is often poorly understood.

O and P make sense too.

But Q just being for queer? There’s also Gender Queer – a term that is being heard much more often and is often regarded as the twin of Gender Fluid.

What about Q for questioning? Something nearly all of us have gone thorough at some stage of our lives. Because there are multiple gender and sexual identities visible these day, it can take time for many children and teenagers to find where they are on the gender and sexuality spectrums.

We need to send the message that questioning is fine, if done of ourselves. But by others? That’s a whole other conversation. No-one has the right to question how we see ourselves and who we love. That message should be part of Pride and who we are. Anything less demeans us.

Real and S&M speak for themselves.

However T for trans does not. The word is transgender or transsexual. Trans if often regarded as a term of abuse and is disliked by many who are proud to be transsexual or transgender. Which of those identifiers to use is an argument all of its own, which I’m not going to to even attempt to begin here. There are strong views on both sides. So use both, but not just trans. Remember too that not all transpeople identify female, at least 25% identify as male.

Whilst not often encountered in the UK, Two Spirit people, often from Native American heritage, are equally valid to be part of the T within our community.

The remainder of the letters from U to Y work fairly well. Though Vogue strikes me as something fleeting and transitory.

It’s great to see Ze/Zir included as gender neutral pronouns. I look forward to their increased use over the years to come. For me they are friendly and easy to use and work well in everyday speech. Whilst I respect people who wish to use “they, them and theirs”, I personally feel uncomfortable using these pronouns. I guess that’s because of my years working within the transgender community, where for transsexual people “they” is seem as term of derision. Its use by family, friends and work colleagues who don’t want to deal with the realities of somebody’s transition is hurtful and shaming.

Sorry Equinox, you’ve really missed people out. Definitely could do better. More inclusion needed for next year please!

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About the Author

Fran Springfield RGN MSc, is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Gender Identity. 25 years ago she became the first Specialist Nurse in the UK to gain that designation. She has written and lectured on gender identity issues both in the UK and internationally. Throughout her career she has been an advocate for transgender rights and equality.

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A Whole Lot of Pride

By Carly Piper

I have been going to Brighton Pride since I was 4 years old. That’s right, 4. My Mum used to take me down to Preston Park for a walk as my Nan lived just around the corner. I have vague memories of smiling faces, loud music and lots of laughter. My most recent memories are similarly vague, but for slightly different reasons of course (perhaps due to the levels of alcohol in my blood stream). Still though, the smiling faces, loud music and laughter remain.

For many people, Pride is a reason to cover yourself in glitter, throw on something transparent and start drinking neat vodka at 9am. Which is fine, great even. But for many people, Pride means an awful lot more, and I am one of those people. Now, I am going to share with you what Pride means to me.

My first memory of realising that girls could like girls and boys could like boys was when I was 8 years old. I was walking up Rose Hill with my Dad and we were discussing the future, as you do when you are young. ‘When will I get married?’, ‘When will I have babies?’. You know the conversations, the ones that are hilarious to adults and truly confusing for young girls. Some girls are determined to have 13 children and get married to Mr. Right ASAP, and in other cases, they want to become zoologists and run away to Canada. Most children just don’t know what they want, and neither did I, as I was about to prove to my future self.

“What will I do when I’m older?” I asked my Dad, holding his hand, looking up at him with a scrunched up nose.

“Well, you will probably get a job and have a boyfriend … or girlfriend”, he answered breezily. My Dad is one of those people who to the naked eye looks like a burly scaffolder who drinks Fosters and smokes roll-ups (which he is). but beneath the exterior, he can be the kindest and most supportive person on the planet. This conversation stuck with me throughout my whole life and it is one I will take to the grave, so cheers Dad!

“YUCK!” I detested. “A BOYfriend, Dad, I will have a BOYfriend” and I rolled my eyes and walked a bit faster.

My next memory was of being at my Nan’s house watching music videos on TV. Christina Aguilera’s song, ‘Beautiful’ came on. If you’ve seen it, it features two men kissing. Well, my Nan wasn’t the biggest fan of this video. I won’t embarrass her by repeating exactly what she said, but you may be able to make it up in your head, and the video was turned over. Needless to say, she was disgusted.

At school, being Gay or Bi was considered a ‘phase’ by most. Lots of my friends went through the ‘phase’ and we all had weird, short, meaningless relationships with each other, while trying to figure out whether we actually liked the other person or not. I was unlucky enough to fall for two different people at school, neither of which reciprocated the feeling, but the experience revealed to me that maybe my Dad was on to something.

A few years later and I have been married (yes, married! ) to a woman. We got married in the first year that it was actually legal in the UK. We are now separated. It has always baffled me how gay marriage was illegal at one point, even up until a few years ago. That’s like saying ‘you can’t love this person’. No one has the right to say that! Least of all the government. I just don’t understand it. Although, I get told a lot that I think this way because I have been fortunate enough to live in Brighton since I was born. This may or may not be true. Brightonians on the whole tend to be a lot more open minded about most things, we’re known for it! I now live in Polegate with my beautiful partner who has two children from a previous marriage and I couldn’t be happier.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t feel the same as me on this subject. Now, I understand that people have different opinions and beliefs. That is an amazing, wonderful thing, as it means that we aren’t all walking around eating the same thing, wearing the same thing and all fancying the same people. That would be boring. But when it comes to individuals causing physical harm and even murdering those who are fortunate enough to have found someone they love, but happen to be the same sex, that’s just not human in my eyes. But this happens, and when I found this out, I was much more disgusted than that day on Rose Hill with my Dad.

So when I go to Pride on the first weekend of August, yes, I drink vodka at 9am, but I also remember that not everyone is as lucky as I am. Throughout the years, there have been a lot of people who have been judged and ridiculed because of their sexuality. I remember that a ridiculous amount of people, even now, maybe even someone reading this, hide who they really are because they are scared. So I go to Pride to show that I am proud. Proud to be who I am, and that I know so many amazing people who are proud of who they are, and even prouder to shout it from the rooftops, dressed in chiffon, covered in glitter on the first weekend of August every year.

Oh, and if you were wondering, my Nan was in the front row at my wedding and asks after my girlfriend on a daily basis. People surprise you. Be proud.

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Note

This post was originally published on Carly’s website: http://www.carlypiperwriter.co.uk/a-whole-lot-of-pride – please follow the link to read more from this writer.

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About the Author

My name is Carly. I am a born and bred Brighton girl heading towards the ‘big 3-0’. I now live in Polegate with my girlfriend and her two children where I write, create and learn. I write directly from the heart so that my views are heard correctly by my audience. What you read is what I think. Big believer in jam before cream on scones.

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