Sunday, 6 September 2009

Proud Of Pride?

Reading's annual Gay Pride took place on Saturday, with a march through the town, followed by an event held on King's Meadow.

'Hundreds' participated in the march, while organisers said they expected as many as 15,000 to attend the day-long festivities.

Initial reports that the National Front would mount a counter-demonstration in protest at the display of flamboyant sexuality were neutered when NF spokesman Tom Linden conceded that their efforts would be "best employed with a national demonstration at the London Gay Pride event".

Royal Berkshire Hospital demonstrated their solidarity with the cause of sexual liberation by raising the rainbow flag, making it clear that there is a strong commitment to equality and diversity across the town.

Reading Pride spokesman Jamie Wake said, "Reading Pride believes in equality, diversity and freedom of expression from all groups in society," explaining that "we value all opinions both culturally and politically."

In a supreme example of 'love-bombing' he expressed support for open dialogue across society in the hope that all sides could learn from each other, adding that "there is still a war against discrimination and visibility is the most powerful weapon available."

However Green Party activist Rob White felt opposition to the event was 'unfortunate' and encouraged condemnation and confrontation rather than dialogue and engagement.

Meanwhile Tim Trent went along to the proceedings and was thoroughly disappointed.

In a powerful article he details how "Reading is unchanged by the event."

He says the event had a distinct lack of atmosphere, asking "where were the carnival floats, where were the extraordinary costumes?... Where was the charisma, the part that makes the onlookers gasp and approve and applaud?" saying instead that what participants got amounted to "a small guided tour of Reading."

The fete on King's Meadow was a small island of tolerance and colour on an otherwise drab occasion, noting public sector employers associations and a campaign to allow gay men to donate blood. And while several young couples felt free enough to hold hands and make public shows of affection only a tranny ascending a climbing wall in knee-high stilettoes could bring him to exclaim "what gusto, what aplomb, what gravity, what a strong gusset!"

He was dismayed at the lack of community integration, taking this as a sign that attitudes still have a long way to progress before equality and diversity is truly valued in our society.


Update: Cllr Emma Warman posts that 8 local councillors from her party took the opportunity to come out and meet the public at a stall labelled "Conservative and proud" where they had a selection of cakes emblazoned with the party logo and a petition calling for a specific anti-bullying policy on LGBT issues in schools.
Cllr Warman explained that she thinks the best thing about the day is that it isn't a 'niche' event and is capable of attracting many people who don't consider themselves part of the 'gay community'.

Cllr Tim Harris, who organised the Conservative Party stall at the event, said "I truly believe that Pride parades across the country have really made a difference in reducing discrimination, and Reading Conservatives were delighted to get involved."

Reading Labour Party have responded by highlighting the hypocrisy of the Conservatives' show of support for equality when matched with their new alliance with the 'homophobic' Polish Law & Order Party which banned Pride events in Warsaw.

Anneliese Dodds said, "It all makes David Cameron's 'apology' for Section 28 ring very hollow."
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  1. Why was the Tory MP not supporting the event? He was in Reading.

  2. I have written separately to the committee a private email expressing my full support for their efforts, emphasising that my comments are a challenge for 2010, not a lambasting of the event for 2009.

    I'm pleased to see comments on my blog where there is a progression of articles complete with podcasts made during the procession. Those comments have, so far, disagreed with me strongly. That's good, because we each took away what we each took away. I welcome more comments there in disagreeing with me and agreeing.

    I won't be living anywhere near reading next year, otherwise I'd volunteer my help to the committee. But my hope is that all comments, both praise and criticism, are taken on board to make next year a fabulous year.

    Reading Pride is necessary. It MUST succeed. We must change from it being an apology to a triumph.

  3. Hi Tim, I agree - we shouldn't be content with less than the best for the area and all the people who live here.

  4. Really I am also challenging all who are currently using my blog comments in order to beat me up to ALSO volunteer their skills to the committee, whether for menial tasks such as litter picking, or for tasks like raising corporate donations and sponsorship.

    Reading is in the heartland of enormous wealthy corporations, almost all of whom have good diversity policies and many of whom express themselves to be good corporate citizens. All of them employ LGBT folk. All of them shoudl be contributing to the events where their UK or European headquarters are.

    Of course the current committee cannot do this alone. They need the help of big hitters in the community, too, in order to raise the profile and awareness that we LGBT folk are normal and ordinary people. And that we can create fun for the heterosexual folk as much as the LGBT folk.

    Reading Pride needs to become more outward facing. So, if I have created anger, then good. I encourage the angry to use it and help make it awesome. This is not about a guided tour of Broad Street. This is about marching with heads held high and creating fun for the community at large.

  5. The Tory MP was there.

  6. A fun occassion marred by some fat drag queen taking the piss out of award winners in an unfunny and inppropriate way and an almost total lack of seating.

    What is an old queen to do if she can't rest her derriere?

  7. er, anon 1220, he wasn't on the march and wasn't on the Tory stand; nobody I know who was there saw him!

  8. Er anon 08.11 he was there. Were you standing outside the Tory stand all day?

  9. Anon 9.58 - so mr tory was electioneering at this community rather than engaging and listening to their concerns. great representative, not!

  10. who was it in the blue rosette? Wilson, or someone else?

  11. First he is criticised for not going, when he did, now he is being criticised for going! You guys make me laugh sometimes.

  12. Anonymous tory, nobody has established whether or not the MP did attend. A photo might help.

    I'd like to know and I'd like to know if he did what he did if and when he was there.

  13. Just in case you're misunderstanding, I know it's hard:

    The Reading East MP, Rob Wilson, attended pride. He was on foot, wearing clothes with no disguises and probably not running up to the Liberal Democrat stand to prove his attendance.

  14. As entertaining as these partisan sideswipes are they are a distraction from the issue promoted by the event.

    I'd also like to take this opportunity to discourage anonymous posters who don't make constructive comments - choose a pen name and stick to it, so that you can account for yourself. Or better still, if you have an OpenID this will help by enabling you to subscribe to the comments.


  15. Finny that the only people who say they saw the Tory MP there are posting anonymously!

    Almost as ironic as Cllr Willis commenting on the far-Right in Reading.

  16. A quick look round the blogs finds you a photo.

  17. Thanks Anon, I've added an update now. Her feed is obviously a couple of hours slow. Lucky you have her in a reader, so you can keep me informed immediately!

  18. The message quoted should be attributed to David Cameron not to Rob Wilson.

  19. You are indeed correct, Alison, I've amended it now.


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