Back in May, I received an email from the diversity officer at work about what we could do to celebrate this year’s Pride Festival. I clicked the link and browsed the events on offer, but one thing stood out to me about everything else… you could apply to be an official walking group in the parade.
Now this sounded like exactly the sort of thing that the lovely folk at Irreverent Dance might enjoy, so I fired off an email to ID’s founder Amanda to see if she thought it’d be suitable. An application was sent off and, before long, Irreverent Dance had been offered a place in the parade.
Amanda then started making plans for recruiting volunteers, ID t-shirt printing, organising small teams (to be dressed in every colour of the Pride rainbow) and, of course, some simple choreography and we could all do along the route. As you might imagine, this generated a great deal of excitement in the ID Community’s Facebook group!
So that’s how it happened that, on Saturday 29th June 2013, I had the very great pleasure of being part of the annual Pride parade in London, with a group of wonderful friends from Irreverent Dance. We had each chosen a colour to wear alongside the fantastic ID t-shirts – I was part of ‘Team Blue’ – and there was much excitement in advance as people planned their outfits in advance and shared photos of their colourful accessories.
As I walked with a handful of others from Baker Street tube station to the cafe where we were meeting up, we started bumping in to more and more sections of our irreverent rainbow. After grabbing food and water, handing out t-shirts and applying brightly coloured make up, we headed off to our holding area to get ready to begin the parade.
While we waited for the parade to set off, we practiced our dance moves to the nearby anarchist samba band and were admiring the sequins of the lovely drag queens from R&G Builders. We chatted, collected badges and stickers, and it wasn’t long before our resident staff spinner had attracted a lot of attention… and not just for his tiny red shorts!
As we walked, skipped and danced down Baker, Oxford and Regent Streets, the crowds cheered and the photographers kept on coming. Along the route we saw: placards from Christian groups apologising for the hurt they’d cause in the past; a gay father and his straight son declaring their love and acceptance of each other via their t-shirts (and hugs); plenty of wonderful dykes, queers, bears, trans folk and even some roller girls.
It was a day of joy where every LGBTQ one of us, and our allies, could dance through central London as if other people were always this accepting. It struck me that having to come out as something other than ‘normal’, implies there is such a thing as ‘normal’. Surely it would be better if we lived in a world where no one assumed anything about the gender and/or sexuality of others? I live in hope that, one day, I’ll get to see that world.
UPDATE: There are now more photos from the day on the Irreverent Dance Facebook page.
Key image of Amanda, leading the group in the parade, taken by James Brown for Irreverent Dance. Other images courtesy of the rather dapper ID ‘cheerleader’, Melon Devine.