Sunday, 31 July 2011

My abiding image of Belfast Pride 2011

No it wasn't being midway down the parade as seeing it still heading round to the front of City Hall having circumnavigated it. Nor was it the crowd who stood in front of most of the Church protestors to lend us their support. Indeed it was nothing to do with the parade at all.

But it was after the event, once the Party in the Square had closed down for another year and people were heading home or on to the after parties and it happened on the concourse of Great Victoria Street Station. It was two teenage young men giving each other a kiss goodbye. It was so natural and so right, yet something that those of us, though out, still find hard to do in a public space.

It may have helped that almost everyone else in the station had some form of rainbow on them, but maybe it didn't. Maybe it was just something that the generation after mine in Northern Ireland just do. They don't have as many hang ups as those of us who were that age before the first Belfast Pride in 1990 had to go through. It may well have helped that the biggest Pride in Ireland was bigger again this year, but it seemed so natural and it really warmed by my heart. So all praise to GLYNI (Gay and Lesbian Youth Northern Ireland) for heloing bring normality.

As a teen I knew I had same sex attractions but it was something I had to keep hidden and something I battled myself over for some time. Those young men at that age there this evening made the efforts of those who have gone before seem so worth it. As for the small pockets of protestors they were so easily swamped by the number of positive shows of support for so many as we walked through the heart of Belfast's shopping district.

There is one other image I say earlier today. On one side of the pavement was a man wearing a "Proud Dad of a Gay Son" T-shirt, on the other side his wife wearing one that said "Proud Mum of a Gay Son." in the middle was the T-shirt "Proud Son of 2 Straight Parents". When I walked through the door my mother asked how the parade was and said she was looking out for me on the news. Maybe next time I can get her to come along.

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