This is the first year since 1983 that we haven’t been able to attend London Pride physically as a choir. To make up for this Pinkies Amy, Sally-Anne and Will tell us about their respective first prides.
Happy Pride Month, y’all.
Pride looks a lot different this year than I expected. I was hoping that the Pride in London Parade would be my first Pride event. I have never been to any Pride before – not even as an ally. I was too afraid of being associated with “The Homosexuals” and stigmatized by my religion for being an ally to go to a Pride event. In other words, I was the opposite of proud. I was ashamed of being queer.
As I grow more and more into myself and grow more confident in identifying as a bisexual and queer woman created by a loving God, I feel more confident participating in Pride month.
But then we had a global pandemic. And large gatherings got canceled. And then protesters marched down my street and one of them waved a rainbow flag with the words “I can’t breathe” written on it. And I realized Pride month isn’t canceled. It just looks different this year. It’s still happening. And this year we are remembering that Pride started with five days of rioting at Stonewall. We are remembering that black and brown women led the way. We remember that, like people of color, LGBTQ people have suffered from police brutality.
Intersectionality has me thinking about how I can make my understanding of Pride — and my baby steps towards representing myself and supporting rights for the LGBTQ community — more inclusive.”
Amy Delamaide, Alto
My first Pride (or “Gay Pride” as it was called then) was in 1985. It was a small affair compared with the event today and Divine sang from a boat on the Thames. I’m not sure if I went on my own but I wouldn’t have minded as it was so important for me to be there. I probably told my Dad (who was very supportive) that I would try and go to the march, because I remember ringing him afterwards from the payphone in “The Fallen Angel”- a then famous Gay pub in Islington, all excited because I had done it!
This was during or shortly after the Miners Strike and an organisation called “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners” helped support the strikers financially by collecting donations. A woman from a Welsh mining area explained that people in the mining community were not sure what to say to “them” (the lesbians and gays) at first. But after the two groups had met, she said that now they ask “when are those nice people from London coming back?” She also said that she wanted us to understand that “If my child grows up and tells me they’re gay,that’s alright”. I know that may not sound very radical today, but in those days, there was more prejudice against us. Years later, the story about how gay and lesbian people supported the Welsh miners was the subject of the film “Pride”.
Two years ago I attended my first Pride event. I got up at nine am, put on a rather rushed layer of eyeliner, splattered some glitter on my cheekbones and got the tube into central London.
I had got up this early to take part in a walking tour around Soho. As we walked, the guides explained its historical importance as a hub for protests, revelry, historic scandals and as a spiritual home for the LGBTQ+ community. Later as I watched the parade all this history gave me an emotional context to the hundreds of people, companies and choirs, to name just a few, all marching with their own individual communities. I hoped that one day I would be part of this parade, dancing in the street, walking arm in arm with my chosen family.
In the autumn of 2019, I joined the Pink Singers and after an incredibly emotional and happy first season, somewhere in the back of my mind there was a growing excitement about next year’s Pride march. Indeed, when it got to January it started to come up on the agenda for the season. Every single time it was mentioned, even in passing, I felt tingles down my spine.
When Covid-19 meant that all Pride marches this year were cancelled my first reaction was that of complete deflation. I knew that this was only temporary, and that there would be other opportunities to march and to show pride, but in that moment a great sadness pervaded my being.
But then the Pinkies virtual choir began, and slowly but surely this irrational sadness has been replaced with that same awed feeling I felt at my first ever Pride. Throughout these rehearsals we have explored not only the history of the choir, but past stories of incredible activism. We have sung, cried and laughed together, and I could not be more grateful for the privilege to sing every week with my friends.
I have come to the realisation that Pride with the Pink Singers is not about a march. It is about living your life through community, through activism, through laughter, through bad zoom connections and most importantly through song.
Just as I felt proud walking down the streets of Soho two years ago hearing the tales of LGBTQ+ past and seeing communities present, I feel proud this year safe in my house, still wearing a rather rushed layer of eyeliner and glitter and singing with the Pink Singers.
William Paxton, Tenor