Confessing my cis privilege, celebrating diversity and a party down south

pride brighton and hobve 2015You probably won’t believe this, but I’ve never been to a Pride festival. Shameful, right?! Well don’t worry, because this weekend I’m set to put that right. I’m off to THE biggest and best Pride festival of the UK – Pride Brighton.

If you’ve never heard of Pride, give yourself a thorough spanking. It’s a celebration of diversity, and as we’re still living in times where laws are only JUST being passed which accept the equality of gay love and marriage, with much more work to do on the genderqueer, asexual and trans people front, it’s definitely needed. Homosexuality has seen a reluctant acceptance from society in my own lifetime, which is scary now I come to think of it. The fact that, when I was born, same-sex marriage wasn’t even seen as possible, never mind legal. That gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer and trans people were outcasts of society – if they even dared to speak up – or made to feel like they had to live a life of pretending to be the ‘norm’. The only accepted normality being, of course, the heterosexual, gender binary view.

gender binaryI will confess with a shameful blush that it is very difficult for me, as a cis woman, to shake myself out of a gender binary viewpoint. I was brought up with very strict conditioning that there are men and there are women. That men and women reach adulthood and find sexual pleasure with each other, on the other side of marriage (of course!). Yes, I had a religious upbringing. Although my subconscious seems to have no problem understanding that people can be born straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual, or trans (which was only added to my mentality long after I realised I was/am bisexual in the early 90s, so probably early 2000s), understanding that an individual might not identify as male or female regardless of a binary-led anatomy is something else entirely. I know rationally that to be genderqueer, genderfluid or not identify as the binary of male or female not only exists but is normal, fine, acceptable – absolutely NO problem for me at all, but I still fall into that privileged cis voice of saying he or she. Man or woman. Male or female. There aren’t only two genders and I mentally slap myself every time I type “whether you’re a man or woman” or “if he or she” in an article, or on a social update, or even think it in my mind. It’s a difficult habit to get out of if the situation doesn’t affect you directly I guess, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes – just like me saying that ‘my toddler is autistic’ may conjure up incorrect thoughts for people if they don’t understand all the nuances or manifestations of the autism spectrum.

Therefore, I openly and publicly acknowledge that yes, I am sex positive and yes I embrace and welcome every single way in which individuals can be diverse, but I still struggle with my own cis privilege in subconscious and old, conditioned thought patterns. I humbly apologise.

diversity celebration pride brighton 2015

I love that we’re all different and unique. I love that the world is moving towards a greater understanding and acceptance (note: not the insulting term of tolerance, but full-on, welcoming acceptance) of genders, sexualities and relationships. The recent legalities of same-sex marriage in various countries make me happy and very glad I’m alive to see it happening. Before my time is done I want to see this welcome of diversity spread to every corner of the world and to see the ‘religious’ bigots and narrow-minded views of fear-mongering, selfish people die out entirely. As a clever recent Lush campaign asked, what if your love was illegal?

All of the above and more is why Pride, the celebration of diversity, is not only a much-needed and much-loved part of modern life now but will continue to be, even when that day arrives when love is equal everywhere and everyone is accepted for who they are and how they identify. We cannot change the past and it is quite honestly embarrassing at times to be part of a species which has treated its own with such malevolence and venom and spite in the past, simply because of who a person might love or who they might be inside. Pride will always serve as a reminder that humanity can be accepting, can be all-embracing, and that our differences and whatever makes each of us unique should be celebrated, not condemned.

It looks to be a fantastic party, with the parade, music, lots of colour and sound and happiness. Check back for the report with lots of photos some time next week!

– Cara xx

 

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