Join the Q: Chasing Rainbows
This year, I have been enjoying the celebrations of 50 years since partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK. Excellent documentaries and dramas have been on TV, including Britain's Great Gay Buildings with Stephen Fry, a BBC series called Gay Britannia – Prejudice to Pride1 and a series of fascinating monologues exploring subjects such as a male impersonator trying to find love in 1916 and a gay man getting married in 2016. I also enjoyed the 2014 film Pride about the 1984 Miners' Strike. Exhibitions in museums I visited recently have also covered the topic and helped to bring history to life.
As a result, when I was asked to attend my local Pride to help with social media on the day, I was fairly pleased to agree – I was happy to use the skills I have gained through volunteering for h2g2, but I was somewhat daunted at the prospect of visiting a crowded festival. I always struggle to make my way safely round busy marquees without getting blocked into a corner or trodden on. It was something my partner wouldn't have done in person, as she hated crowds even more than I do, but it was good that I could bring her with me in spirit, and my mum was happy to help me with access.
All too soon, the day arrived. With some trepidation, I put on the most colourful clothes I own (plus my black raincoat) and then mum and I set off. Fortunately, we found a parking space fairly easily, then had just enough time for lunch before the festival opened. Sadly, it started raining heavily just after we arrived, but that gave me the opportunity to tweet a picture of a rainbow flag looking bright against the grey sky. Auspiciously, another social media correspondent captured the moment when the rain stopped and a real rainbow arched over the festival site! I was very happy to retweet the picture.
We entered the site and collected our programme, and it was as crowded as I had feared so we slowly and carefully inched forward until we found some space to see what we were doing. The excellent Pride in the Past exhibition tent was not crowded, so I enjoyed spending a while in there and learning about LGBT+ people through the ages.
We then made our way into the main marquee, where there were stalls showcasing the work of charities and organisations supporting LGBT+ people. Pleasingly, I met some former colleagues as well as catching up with my fellow social media correspondents. However, the marquee was crowded and hot, and fairly near the Main Stage so the music was oppressively loud.
I managed to get round the whole marquee without going into complete meltdown, but I was glad to emerge into the fresh air and a bit of space, even though the music was still too loud. Our next stop was the Chill Out Zone, which had been included especially for autistic people, but was also a place of welcome relief for me and mum and a few others. When we had recovered and regrouped, we went back into the main zone.
From mum's taller vantage point, she could see that there was a show on the Main Stage, with lipsynching drag queens and a sign language interpreter. We decided to have a proper look and went to the seating area. The music was even louder up there so I had to cover my ears, but mum was able to take some photos and enjoyed trying to remember the sign language words she used to know. We both enjoyed the show, though, as the performers were fabulous.
When the performance finished, we went back to the main zone again and were fascinated by all the people who had dressed up in costumes. The Main Stage hosts and hostesses were also mingling in the crowd before their next show. I took some photos and then one of the hostesses offered to pose for a picture with me!
We then looked round the commercial tents. Mum was tempted by the temporary glitter tattoos but sadly the queue was too long. I fancied buying a rainbow sash, and ventured into a tent full of rainbows. The shopkeeper talked me out of the sash as he admitted the quality wasn't very good, but he did talk me into buying other rainbow merchandise instead, so I emerged from the tent much more colourful than I went in!
While we were in the shopping zone, Mum's eye was captivated by a man wearing nothing but a pair of shorts in her favourite blue colour (see the picture number 34 of 42), so we followed him to the exit, took his photo and then left the site. We wended our weary way back to the car and then I finished off my mission by retweeting some more tweets during the journey home. A proud end to an interesting day.