Well, That Was Amazing

Somehow we managed to get not only the polycule but some friends and acquaintances all together at Pride In Surrey in Godalming yesterday. What a day!

I made sure to find appropriate flags, a Pride gamers tshirt, and went to town on the beard with coloured hairspray to match the bi-flag. I got a lot of compliments, and I thanked my stars for the experience of creating my Obadiah Stane cosplay and the beard dyeing required for that.

We had to get there early as I was in the Parade, so we split and arranged a meetup point for later. I eventually found the way to the assembly area, chatting with various random people along the way. It wasn’t the most precise staging and organisation in the world but it felt appropriately anarchic for Pride’s origins – and soon enough we were winding our way up along Godalming’s High Street

It was my first Parade, and it felt good to be in good company and an atmosphere mixing joy, protest, and representation. Surrounded by work colleagues, associated organisations, and family groups, we brought colour and noise and cheering to a normally very sleepy small Surrey town.

What was heartwarming was the support along the high street from families and businesses alike. People of all ages and backgrounds wanting to see what was going on, and cheering along. It was all a very strange, as in unfamiliar, experience – and one that I want to be part of again – with extra performance next time.

Even slightly grey and misty weather didn’t dampen anyone’s mood, and in the polycule we spent a good few hours taking turns to venture out in small groups from our blankets and bags base to explore and meet people.

We may have bought more gin.

What was also wonderful was that there was a quiet section set away for young families which included stalls for support services and advice on health. The library was well represented, as were a number of other areas of both the County and Local Government organisations, staffed by volunteers.

I’d love to see more participation by other areas and teams, so I plan to advocate for that for next time – even off duty my brain keeps looking for improvements.

Long day short, a great day, especially coming out the other side of lockdown and pandemic, and especially with so many other Pride events cancelled. As I said to one of our Councillors: its a good start.

Pride: We Were Not Ready

We’ve been meaning to go to Pride in London for ages, but never got round to it, usually because somehow it always seemed to be on either when I was working a weekend, or had a prior engagement. This year we determined was going to be different.

Was being part of a throuple part of this? Yes, a little I’ll admit, along with having started to go to munches and engage with the wider LGBTQ+ community rather than rolling relatively solo (so to speak). It’s brought us to know a more diverse and vibrant set of individuals and hear their stories.

From doing so, it became clearer that with so many more important problems in the world than who loves who, it is more imperative than ever for us to stand up and combine celebration with protest. To be a voice and representative for those unable to do so, or who would be at serious personal risk if they did.

So Pride it was, with some fellow cosplayers from Squad UK, and the promise of a glorious hot day. We thought we were ready. We had water, sunscreen, hats, and a rendezvous at Oxford Circus. We were there a little early, and got to see the crowds rapidly swell to fill streets normally thronged with shoppers and tourists.

Being the centre of London shopping, everywhere was decked out in rainbows. Tube stations, shops, buses, you name it, with many shops deploying extra staff to encourage people in out of the fierce sunshine. Somehow that just made everything seem more vibrant.

More and more families appeared, multiple generations to support and cheer on the parade, and everyone was just… relaxed. People of all shapes, sizes, ages and origins chatting, sharing jokes and observations, making room for each other, encouraging and supporting people. It was lovely, and heartwarming.

But it was very, very hot. I’d love to report that we managed to stay for the whole parade, let alone attend any after parties or shows, but the need for food, more drink, and shelter from the heat, let alone a break from the crowds, left us reeling away about halfway through.

We eventually ended up at The World’s End in Camden to meet some other people from Squad UK to celebrate some birthdays, and Lady M got to watch England beat Sweden before we made a break for home.

All in all, what a positive and extremely packed day. We will definitely go again, better prepared now that we have a better idea of what to expect. We were not ready!