This is how it is advertised this year on the Tube and elsewhere, the London Gay Pride parade which takes place a week earlier than usual. It usually falls on the first weekend in July, when I’m away at the Wildest Cats rock’n'roll Weekender.
Does the fact that I won’t be out of London this weekend mean I’ll be joining in the Pride celebrations? I don’t think so. The ‘love and marriage’ bit would put me off for a start. Do I really want to feel totally isolated and surrounded by loving couples kissing and cuddling and celebrating the fact they can have civil partnerships, and soon gay marriage, when I am unrecognized as a gay widower? I think not!
Will there be a section for gay widowers, or for AIDs widowers, meaning all those who have lost their partners whether or not they ever had the opportunity to have a civil partnership? I doubt it. It would, no doubt, spoil the jolly atmosphere for all the happy couples, too much of a downer.
Quite apart from all that, even over 22 years ago when my life-partner was alive on Earth we stopped going on gay marches and parades because of the exhibitionists and others shouting out obscenities, or dressed/undressed in a provocative manner, such as showing off their bare behinds. I don’t want to be associated with this sort of public behavior.
As to the parties and festivals, they hold no interest for me whatsoever, nor to many other gays I know who are not into the current gay fashions in music, clothes, hairstyles, etc. In fact I have nothing in common with most gay men on the scene except my sexuality.
The gay stereotypes (camp types, the bear look, the shaved heads, trendy clothes, etc.) are a complete turn-off for me, which is probably why I am more attracted to straight guys. In any case I am past clubbing and the gay scene. I decided earlier this year that, approaching my 70s, it was time I stopped doing the scene, which anyway was changing rapidly, and which I was finding less and less interesting. I was going out very irregularly, and I thought do I really want to be cruising gay clubs and saunas in my 70s and 80s? No! Time to grow old gracefully, so no I don’t want to meet other singles on Pride or at any of the Pride events. I’ve been a widower for nearly 22 years now and value my own space, and really can’t be doing with one night stands or 10 minute fumbles in a sauna or a backroom. I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
I can’t even see the point in these parades any more. They started as marches for gay rights by the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE), but now we’ve achieved that they just seem to be an exhibitionist and hedonist festival, and the emphasis on ‘love and marriage’ this year OK celebrates achieving that equality, but does little to comfort those gays who feel isolated for various reasons. Some have broken relationships, have suffered bereavement, or perhaps have never had a relationship. It is not so easy even in this day and age, especially if you live in a rural area or a small town.
I spent much of my teenage years living in Welwyn Garden City where one (straight) pub was allocated for about every 5,000 inhabitants, so definitely no gay scene, in fact nothing for young people at all except, in those days, the Wimpy bar next to the station where purple hearts were apparently traded with dealers from London (they were manufactured in a local factory).
I am sure there are still many villages and small towns where, as Gavin says in ‘Little Britain’, the isolated gay feels they are ‘the only one in the village’. Maybe Pride is the one day a year they can come to London and feel in the majority, but it is not for me.
I’ll spend the day as carer for my aged mother as usual, and although a group of Roots Music fans are meeting up in the Soho area tomorrow night for drinks and a meal, I’m steering well clear of the West End and certainly Old Compton Street and Soho and the trendy gay crowd with whom I have very little in common. Good luck with your love and marriage, I exchanged rings with my life-partner, but we were not allowed to marry or have a civil partnership, and now I just feel left out of the whole scene and the celebrations anyway.