My first memory of Pride is around the age of 6 or 7. Standing in the Brighton High Street outside C&A as a parade of perhaps 10-20 glistening, rainbow-clad, heaven-on-wheels, disco trolleys rolled past me; each one blasting out popular tunes and camp-AF glitter-ball hits, from a stage bedecked with men-dressed-as-women-dressed-as… the most gorgeous humans I had ever seen.
Every last face onboard the glittering vehicle that had voyaged its way up from the seafront, was blessed by a bright smile of smudged, red lipstick and topped with a sparkle-stranded hairdo that was bigger than its bosom (AND the bosoms were BIG).
It was bliss.
I had found heaven.
As the Queens of England rained down their air-blown kisses onto the cheerful passers-by who were waving below, I watched open-mouthed in awe and fascination, hoping that one day I might be as fabulous as them.
I wanted to be stood on the floats beside them. I wanted to be covered in their glitter. I wanted to sparkle.
I didn’t know what AIDS was at the time. I hadn’t heard of HIV. All I knew, was that mummy had told me once in the bath tub, “if one of your friends falls over in the playground and they’re bleeding, you must not touch them. You must not touch the blood. You must always, always wash your hands if anyone falls over.”
Each year, I would my earnestly ask my father; “Daddy, please can we visit Grandma in Brighton when the parade is on again?” I so couldn’t wait to see them. My ‘people’ were there and they were divine.
My dad would pull a face and make no promise.
I remember yelling at him once across the kitchen table over dinner: “Do you know the male G-Spot is up his arse?!” It was an angry, immature reaction to a comment he’d made about someone with a camp demeanour on TV. I can’t remember the comment, nor indeed the point I was trying to make with my smart-arse, pre-teen comeback; but I can remember I was infuriated by his homophobic ignorance and open distaste for a man who was clearly gay. Especially when his sexuality had no relevance to the programme we were watching.
Was my dad really that homophobic? This from a man who idolised the band Queen, and had a penchant for dressing up as Frank-N-Furter whenever the Rocky Horror Picture Show rolled into the local theatre.
I have never officially ‘come out’ as being bisexual, although if I had to label my sexuality then that would probably be it. That, or I’ve wondered if maybe ‘pansexual’ would be more accurate, since modern-day gender identity is now so much more fluid (and hooray for that!)
It’s not a case of simply liking ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ anymore, but each and every person and all who are in-between.
I have had sex with men. I have had sex with women. I have fancied both types of bodies, and experienced love with both genders. I could happily have a long-term relationship with a woman, but I could never fully give up the feeling of a man between my legs. I’m quite sure of that.
I’m definitely floating somewhere around the middle of that Kinsey Scale, but where to be exact changes from month to month with personal interactions and my social experiences.
I’m entirely comfortable with my sexuality. I have never felt any reason to have to hide it; but I’ve never felt a huge need to really ‘own’ it either. It just is what it is, and those who know me accept me as I am; a human, capable of feeling.
Nothing more, nothing less.
So, whilst I’m not exactly silent about my sex life, I’m not about to burst out the megaphone and invite you all to my coming out party either: “Rollup, rollup… get your ticket to Samantha’s great big rainbow coloured shin-dig.”
I guess, I don’t need to.
I guess, that’s my privilege.
On 28th June 1969, the Stonewall Inn in New York City – a haven for the city’s gay, lesbian and transgender community – was raided by police. Raids were not uncommon. At this time, homosexual acts in the State of New York (and in all states with the exception of Illinois) were still illegal. But on this particular night, the LGBT community fought back.
What followed was three nights of severe unrest and rioting, which came to be known as the Stonewall Uprising (or Stonewall Riots). It was led predominantly by Black and POC lesbians and trans women, who were ready to fight and stand up for who they were and what they believed in.
They had had enough of the oppression; enough of the police, and enough of society.
That uprising led to a movement. That movement brought on change. Change is still happening all around the world today. LGBTQ+ people are still fighting.
Pride is a celebration of this fight. It commemorates the night that began the change that was needed. It reminds us of the people that stood proud for who they were and what they believed in. It serves as a continued campaign for society’s attitude and our globals law to change.
For many years I have marched and laughed and sung and danced and held my flag up high and proud above my head, waving it about in the month of June and many more others beside it.
I have celebrated my Pride. I have worn rainbow glitter.
And yet, the shameful thing is that up until recently – up until the current 2020 movement for Black Lives Matter took a firm hold and gripped us hard around the heart; I did not know the full history of this celebration.
I did not know that I had Black Trans and Lesbian POC to thank for the fact that I have never needed to ‘come out’ and make my stand.
But I know now. And I am grateful. And this month – even though lock-down means I won’t be marching – I’ll march harder than ever, for all the change that is still yet to come. For all the Black Lives that matter. For all the LGBTQ+ people that I love and support.
I will wear my glitter. I will wear it proud.
But this time, when I wear it, it will look different. This time, in my eyes at least, it will look like the thousands of tiny shards of glass that shattered across the Stonewall Inn as Marsha P Johnson launched her shot glass into the mirror and yelled: “I got my Civil Rights!”
And you damn well know she did.
It was to be known as ‘the shot glass that was heard around the world.’
No wonder those Drag Queens in Brighton were so sparkly. They were wearing those same shards of glass on their face, all those years later. And probably still today.
So, I now toast a shot of something strong to them, and to all the others who keep on fighting.
I am grateful for the glitter – the glitter I wear today.
Love is Love & Black Lives Matter
Tired of being questioned by others? Challenged in your choices?
Made to feel as though your lifestyle isn’t valid?
Do you doubt your own identity?
WONDER WHO YOU REALLY ARE?
Feel lost in knowing what’s really right for you?
Enough of the Bull-S*!
Samantha Kelsie | ZFG
Lifestyle Empowerment Coach
⚡ Permission to be – unapologetically YOU. ⚡