Here's the thing. My boyfriend grew up in a place that has a statue in a public place that has the word "Sodomy" on it - and used in a very negative way. There is still legislation there that ensures that a gay pride parade can never happen. It's not Russia or anything - it's Jersey. Maybe a little too close to home for comfort.
I didn't have it much better in rural Lancashire in the 70s and 80s. I grew up in a village with 20 odd houses and a pub run by an old woman who looked like The Moon off The Mighty Boosh and who monitored what her customers were talking about - if she didn't like it, they were out! On top of that, I wasn't just the only gay in the village, I was the only kid in the village, too. I've touched on all that before, but suffice to say it was a pretty isolated and alienating existence. It's served me okay - at least I know how to shoot, pluck and prepare a pheasant for the oven - but I really wish there had been a bit more queerness.
One thing I am grateful for, though, is that I had parents who were truly radical. My Dad was involved in smuggling British Leyland buses into Cuba, which I suppose was a pretty big radical gesture. My Mum responded to some racism she heard from a man who was trying to seduce her by going straightaway and having her hair permed into an Affro - which was just as important a radical gesture. I didn't even have to come out to them - it just happened that they knew and accepted the fact that I was gay at a time that many of my peers were nowhere near as lucky. God speed you, Mr and Mrs Hewitt.
That being said, I would have crawled naked across broken glass to have been able to go to something like Manchester Pride. To have been in a place where there were thousands and thousands of other gay people who wanted to march, to party, to dance, to fuck, in the same way that I would have wanted to do those things was something that could only have really happened in Utopia back then. I consider myself bloody lucky that I am in possession of tickets that will allow me to do just that in two weeks time.
Yes. In possession of tickets. I had to pay for them.
Now, I suppose I could just forego Pride altogether and spend the weekend at the many exciting Queeruption events that are happening. But here's the other thing - I admire much of what Queeruption is doing. I admire its radical agenda. I am grateful that there are people who are willing to challenge the mainstream in that way. I personally know several wonderful, insanely creative people who are involved in it. What I don't accept is that Queeruption is in any way an alternative Pride - I know that the organisers themselves don't make that claim, but I hear a lot of people talking about it like that.
The fact is, Queeruption is not an alternative Pride because it can never be an alternative to Pride. Those lonely gay kids growing up in Chorley without a gay bar in sight want to meet other gay kids and dance to Kelis. They want to drink free Kopperberg cider and horde free condom packs from the LGF, in the hope that they might get a chance to use them. They don't care that Pride is a corporation making money out of their sexuality - they shop at Tesco every week, which is a far more egregious corporation than Pride will ever be.
If Pride were all that were on offer I would be terribly depressed. But it isn't. Pride exists alongside Queeruption and many other varied and interesting events aimed at gay people. That fills me with joy and delight because there were zero events aimed at gay people when I was a young un.
So I'll be dipping my toes into Queeruption - and I hope they come out a little bit dirty and a little bit astounded. But I will be diving into Pride too. And I know I will be proud to be one of many generations who made it possible for such a big, mainstream event to happen with very little dissent from the heterosexual majority.
My point? If you don't like it, I'm fine with that. But remember that there is no real alternative to it. Do your own dang. Because your dang is beautiful too!