Someone turned up the heat, added an alternative such as #SweEng and STILL the people, possibly a million, thronged London’s streets to celebrate humanities diversity…and with so much joy. Here we reflect on what we saw of Pride, trying to capture what we saw, felt, experienced.
This year’s Pride march definitely contained more of a protest – and Peter Tatchell reminded people that Pride
“is a Party and protest”.
The Pride March even started with a protest from radical feminists protesting aganist transgender men but they received a cordial silence from the crowd rather than any verbal responses. The only verbal protest was from Christian Voice who, as for every year we have attended, held up their banners heavily suggestive that the participants of the march would be going to hell.
Fortunately the angels came out to respond but I would like to emphasise respond with love.
We saw wonderful signs of inclusion with those who identify as Intersex participating in the March, and obviously enjoying every moment.
Other Christians found themselves on the front of the barriers and offered such a delightful response of an apology and confirmation that sexuality is not a problem.
People often would stop, take a photo, and hug them. What does this say?
We took our Proud Parents Banner, kindly reposted online by the lovely Vicky Beeching today,
and people stopped,
mouthed silent ‘thank-you’s,
or came over to shake our hand,
or even kissed and hugged us.
One person came out of the parade and said:
“I wished my parents were standing there instead of you”.
It is not us but their way of responding to what might have happened in their lives. I often thought as the march passed by us what has happened to cause such a response today to a simple banner and our presence.
Perhaps it was that, as made clear in the apology above, the Church has not always offered a safe refuge to the LGBT community, not provided a safe space where they may be listened to, accepted for who they are and welcomed. That welcome isn’t simply a cup of tea but a true unconditional provision of inclusion into the church, into the family, one where that definition, that understanding of family may have been shaken from the past.
Every smile, every wave, every nod, in which we saw past understanding jar with what they saw, the church on the street, offering love, offering hope, causes me to shudder at what has happened and may still happen today. We saw people want to be included, not possibly in the 5 hymn sandwich on Sunday but included, wanted, welcomed, loved.
Perhaps we saw a different form of church today.