Bit of a cliched title, but last weekend I took part in my first Pride march. To be clear, I fully support everything Pride stands for, but I have something of a fear of crowds so I’ve always avoided anything that attracts large gatherings; I’ve never seen the giants, I didn’t see any open top buses carrying LFC silverware and I don’t go on marches.
But this year, as part of my efforts to push myself out of my comfort zone and stand up for things I believe in, I decided to join the Labour Party Red Bloc for the Pride march.
It was fun. My friend and work colleague, Cllr Patrick Hurley met me beforehand for a coffee and a catch up, before heading to St George’s Hall to join everyone. I immediately spotted members from Walton CLP, Alan & Pauline, the Mersey Socialist Club crew, alongside Cllrs Ann O’Byrne, Paul Brant, Fraser Lake, MP Dan Carden, and Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham. I met lots of other members from other CLPs and our MEP Theresa Griffin.
I volunteered to help carry the new Walton CLP LGBT banner and quickly realised that despite losing 3 stone over the last 9 months, my muscles could use some work. Thankfully, Alan and Pauline demonstrated their vast campaigning experience, each holding up their ends of the banner single handedly and I managed to carry it from start to finish… Four days later and my arms still ache!!
I couldn’t see anything in front of me other than the banner, but looking either side at the crowds of people lining the streets, cheering us on, standing in solidarity with the LGBT community, made me feel immensely proud and a little overwhelmed to be there.
It was my first taste of community activism, except for the Iraq war protest in 2003 – I was living in London at that time and my friend, Collen, traveled down from Liverpool for the occasion.
We live in strange times and I’m fed up of sitting on my sofa worrying, and complaining about it. It’s not enough to shout at the TV. I had been apathetic about it, didn’t believe activism made much difference, but Extinction Rebellion and the schools strike for climate protests have shown that it does make people take notice. The fact Liverpool Council held a full council meeting on a that single subject and declared a climate emergency in the same week, is proof that peaceful but disruptive protests do work.
I’ve heard lots of people complaining that buses were delayed, affecting people right across the city region, people asking why it can’t take place in a park instead of closing roads. Of course, it wouldn’t be a protest if it didn’t disrupt things. But maybe also, a lot of people think pride is a celebration rather than a protest. I had naively thought we had moved beyond discrimination against people for their sexuality, but the recent homophobic attacks, show us that there is still a long way to go, and now more than ever we need to stand up and say we won’t tolerate hate crime. #PrideIsAProtest
Now that I have my first protest under my belt, I’m certain it won’t be my last.