Two Prides One Summer!
An account of the Prides I went to.
It was our first ever Pride! The very first Pride this town has ever held! That’s so exciting! I wasn’t involved in it at all but I wanted to go to it and show support.
Because it was so local, there wasn’t a parade or anything, but there was an afternoon of stalls and some LGBT themed parties in the evening.
I even pre-booked a ticket at the club I hate (it’s just really shit) so that I could go show support then.
Now, in terms of going to see the stalls, I managed to pick the one half hour that day in which it rained to go outside. Like, exactly that one half hour. Talent. In regards to the stalls themselves… I won’t lie, a small part of me was disappointed BUT that’s really unfair of me to feel that way. The problem is, I’ve only been to one other Pride, last year, and that was Manchester Pride… and whilst I knew from a logical perspective that my tiny town’s first Pride couldn’t possibly match up to a big city that has been going since the late 80’s to early 90’s… I had nothing reasonable to compare it to.
I also don’t really know what to do with the stalls sometimes. I bought some cupcakes and a pride lamp but after that I was just wandering aimlessly. There were way too many food stalls, like it was 90% food stalls, and I couldn’t reasonably buy from them all. There was maybe two craft stalls, and the rest were things like a political party stall which I always feel awkward going to because I don’t really have any clue about any of that. There was a really bad local kid singer. Like, so bad. He seemed to think he was the next Justin Beiber, trying to chat up fellow teenagers in the crowd and putting his hands on his chest whilst he sang.
I did go to the afterparty thing but I had no one to go with me, so it was just me standing in the corner of the club I hate by myself drinking cocktails until the official Pride part of the evening was over and they let everyone else in. Then I went home. I didn’t enjoy that part much, but it was literally only because no one was with me. I stayed because I was determined to show support, so they would have the numbers to do it next year.
So, in case you’re not from England, the Manchester Pride is one of the longest running ones. It’s not the biggest, but it’s still in the thousands. It’s also the next town over for me. Last year I went for the first time.
This year I marched it the Parade.
As this rate, next year I’ll be helping organise it…
I marched in my company’s contingent. We didn’t have a float, just about 30 or so people marching and blowing whistles and waving flags and handing out jellybeans. I carried the company flag!
I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to handle it from a sensory perspective, I was genuinely planning how to fake heatstroke if need be. (Upon reflection, although I didn’t need to, I don’t think it would have been possible….) Instead I stocked up on armour. I feel better with coats or something on my shoulders, so I bought a cape. I bought a distracting rainbow swirly thing to twirl. I bought rainbow sunglasses to dim the lights. Most important of all – I bought earplugs.
I also bought a ton of glitter.
It all worked! Another thing I was worried was being able to smile for the entire parade. Sometimes I struggle to emote correctly, even when happy, so I was slightly worried I’d unintentionally scowl my way through the parade. My solution: when they handed us all branded whistles, I stuck mine in my mouth and blew it for the entire parade. (It was a little gross afterwards) I did my best to smile around the whistle as well, but hopefully if I wasn’t smiling it was less noticeable.
After the parade I went to join my friends. Really I just wanted to sit and chill and drink and soak up the pride atmosphere. I love being at Pride, I love the atmosphere, but I had got up and 7am in order to walk the dog before getting on the train and I was too tired to club. My friends were on Ecstasy. I left them to it. (Actually it was one friend and two people I met that day)
Unfortunately there was a creepy guy on the train home. Firstly he kept on asking me if I was ok even after I said I was. Being tiredness and drunkenness and autism I probably was a little stony faced, but he was a literal stranger and I told him I was ok. Stop asking.
Then, because I was a little drunk, I was a little too chatty, and we talked about our spouses. So I literally told him I had a husband and he said he had a wife. And then he hit on me.
He was taller than me and bigger than me and stronger than me and we were in a compartment alone. I was scared. But you what pisses me off more than creepy guy? I mean, creepy guy pisses me off but he isn’t exactly new or a surprise, I’ve been dealing with those jerks since I was 13 – what pisses me off is that this was the first time in months I dressed to make myself feel good. I wore the same outfit to both Prides, something I thought actually flattered my figure for a change, I was left alone unattended for all of half an hour – if that! – and some guy managed to perv on me. It was tank top and some skinny jeans! I can’t even wear a tank top and some skinny jeans for half hour without adult supervision or some fucking creep will make me feel unsafe.
I didn’t want to leave the house for a few days after that, but then the bank holiday ended and I needed to get back to work.
The Aftermath Pt 2
Also, I went deaf. I said I used earplugs for the parade, right? Well, they’re good! It’s been six days now and I’m still only hearing about 1/3 of what I should. I’ve been given some drops from my doctor and they fully expect it to resolve within a week.
For the most part its been frustrating. I can sort of hear most of what someone says when they’re talking to me if I concentrate, but it’s…. frustrating. For everyone. And if I’m not concentrating, for example, if I wasn’t expecting them to talk to me, I often don’t hear them. The other day I stood next to a ringing phone for half and hour before someone else came and answered it.
It’s also been a little creepy because all the background noise is screened out and I suddenly realised just how noisy our lives are. I hear nothing. No passing cars, no birdsong, no vacuum cleaner two doors down, no people coming up the stairs, no plumbing clanking…. if no one is speaking to me I’m sitting in utter pure silence and it’s fucking weird. It sounds like I’m dissociated but I’m not. It is the sound of dissociation.
Especially right now, because the eardrops have juuuuust started working, so for the first time I’m getting a slight ringing on the edge of my hearing. I’m also getting a ton of vertigo as my ears readjust, which I wasn’t getting before. A few days ago it just sounded like I’d forgotten to take the ear plugs out.