Being a gay man, I think it’s only fitting that I celebrate and embrace my sexuality. Most gay men and women are faced with many obstacles in everyday life, that it's difficult to differentiate between what is normal and what isn't.
As we are now in 2016, we presume that homosexuality is finally accepted and we can live as a united world of differences and equality.
Back when time began homosexuality was frowned upon. It illegal and classed as a severe mental health deficiency. You were either thrown into a locked prison cell or held at your own will in Mental Health Hospitals until you was “cured from this sickening disease”
Homosexuality has been around for centuries dating back to the Roman times. In fact, before then there has been stories and illustrations that prove that even the strongest of Kings and rulers carried out male on male sexual activities. In some countries Homosexuality is seen as a death penalty or genital mutilation, however, how much protesters and activists stand their ground and say enough is enough they will never unfortunately make homosexuality legal in all Countries around the world.
In 1969 after the stonewall riots, homosexuality was thrust into the spotlight across the globe. Marches and picketers stood outside the city hall in Philadelphia trying to get their voices heard. The organisers thought that a peaceful and quiet protest wasn’t enough so on 28 June 1970 it was decided that in order for homosexuality to become national, a march across New York was their only option and this is where gay pride was born.
The march itself covered over 51 blocks of New York making it the biggest protest in history at that time.
When we think of Gay Pride you think Manchester and San Francisco as these get the most Media coverage. However these prides are the tip of the iceberg in celebrating LGBT communities. 66 other countries are now holding their very own Gay Pride. Which proves how far LGBT has come from that tiny protest outside a city hall.
I had an amazing opportunity to meet a man called Dennis from Holland. He has experienced over 10 prides in different cities across the world. I met Dennis in a Hotel in Manchester and we sat down together to discuss his personal reasons for attending so many Prides.
He explained how he travels these cities by himself to get the most of his experiences. Dennis goes into detail that its about being true to himself and leaving his home town (where it is a tiny village in Holland) he doesn’t feel like he’s the only “gay in the village” As he is sat across from me I can feel his passion and endearment towards his sexuality. He realises that its about exploring deep into his inner self and embracing this on another level. As he began his story, his eyes light up and he became so very relaxed. He clearly has many memories that he has never really discussed with anyone else and wants to share these with me. He explains that going to all these pride events becomes a personal drug (an adrenaline rush) that satisfies him immensely. It makes him thirsty and addicted for more.
I wanted to explore the variations of Prides, and whether he could compare them in their own different ways. Obviously being from Holland he explains Amsterdam Pride to me. He becomes excited and goes into a lot of detail. He says that Amsterdam have canal parades were as the other parades he has witnessed are all done on land. However he says all Prides are a sea of rainbow colour and the atmosphere at each one is electrifying. Buildings decorated with LGBT National Flags, posters upon walls, Town Mayors and celebrities using their statues to add more awareness. People line the streets with excitement. Families bring their young children to educate them on diversity and equality.
Dennis said its about meeting new and old faces. He meets so many new friends on his travels and celebrating together he throughly loves, however while he is touring other countries he does get to see the people he has met in the cities he’s already been to.
You can clearly feel the deep sense of happiness with Dennis. The fulfilment of achieving his ultimate goals and aspirations. America has more of a liberal approach to pride, Madrid has been his largest with millions partying on the streets, til dawn, Denmark and Prague are the more smaller ones he's been and France and Belgium where amazing, not to mention his visit to Switzerland.
I asked Dennis has he ever experienced Religious and bigoted Homophobia while on his travels. He told me, that of course wherever you go you do get to see those picketers and haters shouting religious lines, however the fact that the music drowns them out is rather funny and no one pays any attention to them anyway.
Dennis said no matter what country and city he has been too, Pride is celebrated the exactly the same. An army of flags, drag queens and amazing music with plenty of beers and cheers. The concerts and live bands provide such an atmosphere. Pride is about coming together as one big family, feeling safe and expressing your individuality. This is done in every country he has been to, and he does go on to say that Manchester does know how to through on hell of a party.
After I finished talking to Dennis, I ventured to Canal Street, here I spoke to lots of other people who again explained to me that its about expression and individuality. Its a time for those who are not able to embrace their sexuality to come alive and be around those who accept everyone. Of course I did speak to those who where there just to have a good time on beer and dance the night away, but regardless of who’s there for what reason, it seems to me that Pride is just one big celebration. And it is done with utter perfection. The streets are lined with stalls and homemade shops, from Big bear clothing to the Cat's Protection league. Canal Street bustled in the summers breeze. The smell of hotdogs and chips scented the air. Madonna and Kylie Minogue played loudly..... what else. Smiles drawn on everyones faces. Who wouldn't want to celebrate Pride? Patrons came in full swing. Dressed in feather boas, hot pants and some practically nothing. We had gays, lesbians and straights all merging together showing the world that being queer isn't a choice, its about being a person, an individual, a small strand of DNA that makes us who we are.
I got to watch some of the Manchester parade. Each float perfectly designed to show off their talents and creativity. Each float had something to say to their watchers. From Drag Queens to Thai Girls, all floats had a meaning behind them. The streets of Manchester were filled with such glee and with the sun shining down on the day, what more could someone ask for. So when you think of pride don't just see it as an excuse to get drunk and stay out till the following morning, just remember everyone who attends has their own personal story and reason. This is the perfect end to a perfect summer.
Dennis has allowed me to share many of his pictures including my own that I taken at Manchester Pride 2016.