London Pride

The affirmation of Pride may live with me. Walking as people cheer is a wonderful experience.

I started seeing people on the train to London. That sequined coat is surely for Pride. Walking from the station to Portland Place I saw t-shirts with pride slogans, and felt I was there already. We met in a park, and settled in to worship, some sitting on the grass, some on a bench because of mobility issues. We are inclusive.

One introduced herself by her male name, then offered the female alternative as an afterthought or apology. We are rueful, often, taking our first steps of transition. It feels like failing to make a go of life as a man, or failing to be a man like other men can. Even now I feel some ruefulness though I have been living as myself for seventeen years. It is so difficult! Yet- this is who I am.

We go to point C near the front of the procession. We are behind a group from a university, students and staff together. The group behind has amps playing music of LGBT influence: I’m gonna make a supersonic woman of you….

As we march there is a constant sound of cheering. Some put out their hands to shake or high-five. Along the route announcers give the names of the passing groups and each are cheered. A man behind me takes the microphone briefly and gives their campaigning message. Gill knows about it, discusses it with them and this delights them. They are not alone.

There is a huge group of affirming Christians, some dressed as angels. The church will not drive us out.

We got to the end by 3.30, but some at the back were hanging around for hours and not finished by 6.30. That would be dispiriting, especially if you connected it with being trans.

I also think ally groups like L with the T are diluted if there are too many trans women with them. The point is that cis lesbians support us.

We went to the Westminster Quaker meeting house and hung out. A woman of Canadian origin told me that until she came to the UK she had thought sweets were for children, and had been amazed to see chocolates marketed at adults. And parents stuffed their kids’ faces with sweeties. Another told me when she says “I’m an immigrant” people demur. But she is, in the sense of a person born abroad, who has made her home here. The word immigrant has developed connotations of interloper, outsider, even untermensch, while as from the white areas of the former Empire she is seen as acceptable. It irks her. It irks me too.

I wandered off with Y for a drink. Unfortunately she had picked up a street bicycle, and now could find no stand to return it. Not could she ride it, as the streets were heaving. Eventually I waited sitting by a statue while she went off to find a place to leave it. I saw a man in full stage armour on a cycle-rickshaw.

Then we dashed round the Natalya Goncharova exhibition. I loved the huge peasant Christ, blessing with both hands. He shines. His gaze is overpowering. On the tube we saw drag queens in wedding dresses.

As I unlocked my bicycle at Swanston I chatted to a man in rainbow tights of how wonderful I had found the day, but what I mean about the railway carriages being mine is this. There was a man with a sash saying “It’s my Birthday” trying to get the carriage singing. We all know Wonderwall. He wasn’t too rowdy, as such men go; at one point he was chatting to a group of strangers, as they were all teachers. Quite civilised, really. But as I got off he apologised. Usually I find rowdiness threatening, but at that moment, even in aged wig with a rainbow streak still visible on my face, I felt invincible.

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