On July 7 I got to go to London pride with the LGBT society. It was my first pride ever which made it both exciting and terrifying. The day started off fairly early for me, I woke up at 6:30 am to be out the door at 7:20 to take the bus to the train station and then take the train from Woking to Guildford to make it to Guildford with plenty of time to be able to take the coach up to London. The coach left around 9am, we made it to London just after 10:30 am which was fairly early considering pride starts at noon. We spent some time wandering around London together, we went to several stores looking for glitter and flags (lesson learned: if you want glitter or flags for pride buy them ahead of time or be prepared to spend £5-10+ per flag, even if you want a small one, I should have bought an ace and trans flag ahead of time), then we got ice cream at amorino which I absolutely love (and you might have seen me putting a picture of it before, now I get it every time I go to London and since it was so ridiculously warm I treated myself to a large one, but same flavours as before) and we walked from Soho to regent’s park where we met the rest of the group.
We went into the parade area some time around 1:40pm, we were assigned to section D (the whole parade started at 12:00 but since there were so many people marching it was divided into sections, one after the other so it was a constant stream of people marching and parading). The heat was ridiculous, it was around 34C the whole day and we were standing in the sun for a really long time but surprisingly I didn’t even get sun burnt despite not using any sunblock at all. We really struggled to find our place in the parade but we got on our spot after around 20 min of walking around and trying to figure it out, we saw another university groups as well which was nice and we started the parade around 2:30pm.
I didn’t use any flags or glitter but I did make a tiny sign with sparkly watercolours and a brush that I took with me, I should have thought about the size beforehand but luckily I was right at the edge of the parade so at least the people standing right at the edges could see it. I was really nervous about attending pride, in fact I decided I wasn’t attending several times throughout the week, but I’m really really glad I went. I was nervous about the fact that I’d never been to pride so I didn’t know what to expect, I was nervous because I don’t know the people at the LGBTQ society really well and I have severe social phobia which makes it really really hard for me to even hold a basic conversation with people, I was worried about the crowds and whether that would be overwhelming for me or end up in me getting a migraine (I’d heard that there would be over a million people marching, and I think there were) and I was also nervous about the fact that even though I’m out as trans at the university and I don’t usually have problems relating to that doing it in the wider world with so many people around to see, judge and potentially react violently felt like a bit much, plus I’d never done it in such a visible way as holding a sign saying that I’m trans, I tell people if they ask and I don’t avoid the topic but I also don’t scream it or advertise it. The crowds were definitely overwhelming, the heat made the whole experience miserable, as did the standing in place carrying a backpack for several hours (the parade was fun and nice when we were moving but I guess it was practically a traffic jam but with people instead of cars, lots of moving a tiny bit and standing in place for ages around bottleneck areas) but there is no question in my mind that I’d do it again given the chance, and if I get the chance to do it next year I will do it again. I feel like England is definitely way more accepting than Latin America is (my mother is basically as accepting as it gets and she still treats it like a dirty secret I should be ashamed of and not tell anyone ever, her reaction to hearing I was going to pride was what pride? proud of what? why would you be proud of that?) but I usually feel like I don’t quite fit in and like while there is less violent confrontations about it than I would have in latin america i never feel like it’s a good thing. But pride changed that. I didn’t get over my social phobia, I barely said a word to anyone, but seeing all the people like me, refugee groups, trans flags, lgbt flags, people wearing amazing glittery outfits, I felt like I fit in, like people were happy and glad I was there, like I belonged, for a whole afternoon I suddenly didn’t feel alone or lonely at all, I fit in perfectly (though I do regret not getting an ace flag, I only saw one the entire time I was in London and it wasn’t even in the parade itself) and my being there made others feel the same way. I exchanged countless smiles with other people carrying trans flags, countless high fives, some hugs, things I’ve never done with strangers and wouldn’t think myself capable of doing at all and it felt good and nice and right. We finished the parade around 5:30, at that point I was feeling really well emotionally but I was physically exhausted and I was definitely starting to be overwhelmed by the crowd and the noise so I walked to the train station straight from the parade, got some orange chicken and salmon sashimi from right by the Woking train station and went home to watch steven universe and go back to being a hermit for the rest of the weekend.
I hope this post gave you an idea of what pride in London is like, even if my experience of pride was definitely pretty limited (the coach from the university left London at 2am so I definitely left way earlier than everyone else and I have no idea what else was going on besides the parade), as usual if you have any questions please shoot us an email!