It’s a strange thing these days to watch a Pride march pass by.
I always cry, but increasingly these are tears of nostalgia.
Soon I suspect I won’t cry at all, and after that, most likely I’ll feel peeved.
On Saturday (11th July, Bristol) I cried at those sections of the march occupied by folks who, I suspect, still face some hardships because of their sexuality – the uniformed police officers still feeling it necessary to cleverly disguise their epaulettes with rainbow flags, the few straggling and forlorn teachers who brave the social media ridicule of their colleagues and pre-pubescent pupils, the ambulance workers.
And I cried for the older marchers – the flagging drag queens who have fought all the long, bitter battles and proudly bear the scars of their victories.
But they have won.
So how long will such celebrations last?
I remember broaching the tender topic of sexuality with my young children, suggesting that they be true to themselves and promising their family would honour and cherish them whatever their sexual identity.
They laughed at my old-fashioned sensibilities. My children – and many of their (Western) generation – no longer do sexuality. It’s a little passé.
They do sex and intimacy. They genuinely don’t care whether they find their joy with another or others of the same sex, the opposite sex, or both, or neither. They care about the joy.
Those Pride warriors have given this generation all the tools they need to rewrite societal norms. They are changing the code.
And that’s worth a party, for sure.
Not that our youth are escaping controversy- even within their own ranks – but one can’t help feeling that joy will slowly and gently conquer the backwashes of misogyny, conservatism, and oppressive masculinism that currently swirl like effluent dispersing into a clear, fast flowing stream.
Already this generation is navigating its internet porn-fuelled, image-bombed, hyper-connected milieu; knowing it for what it is, absorbing it, emerging beyond it.
I have high hopes that in some future far from my knowing they’ll have deconstructed and reordered the dominant model of monogamy (gay, straight or other, obv), and child-rearing too.
So at what point do the drag queens start to do just that, to drag?
Already such large-scale, public displays of ‘deviant’ sexuality are no longer ‘deviant’. I used to cry at the sight of two men or two women holding hands on a Pride march because it was the only space in which they could safely do so. Now, thankfully, it’s a common sight on the high street.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, whatever- these are all mainstream now.
And that’s still something to be proud of; it’s still something new.
But how long might it be before such loud, proud, glorious displays will be likened to similarly loud displays of heterosexuality – to the stag night and the hen do? In generational terms it isn’t long since women reclaimed the right to wear minimal outfits and get leary in the streets. Yet now coming across a gaggle of women invoking that right is invariably simply tiresome.
What do we march for now?