More than 30 years after Section 28, Pride is still very much needed
Adam Price AM
Around 31 years ago I attended my first Pride march in Cardiff in protest against Margaret Thatcher’s Section 28.
That legislation – regressive in nature, bitter in spirit, and horrific in consequences – did untold damage to an entire generation of young people.
It told people like me that there was something wrong with us – that we would never be accepted, that we didn’t fit and that we weren’t ‘normal’.
Those were dark days where many harboured a quiet suspicion of LGBT+ people.
Growing up in the coal mining community of Ammanford on the western edge of the valleys of south Wales, hearing and experiencing prejudice became the new normal and made accepting my own identity a challenge in itself.
It wasn’t until my later youth, at the height of the miners’ strike I would see how the people of my town welcomed London’s Lesbians and Gay Support the Miners with open arms.
That planted a seed in me that perhaps one day I would be able to live openly, freely and proudly as a gay man; that I would have nothing to hide.
Attending the anti-Section 28 protest in Cardiff a couple of years later became another pivotal point in my journey in coming out as a gay man.
There I would meet people who shared my passionate belief that there was something deeply uncivilised about teaching young people that an integral part of their being is wrong.
It took another couple of years for me to finally come out to my friends and my loved ones but when I did it was a thoroughly liberating experience
For me, it was a moment where I looked at where I was and what I wanted in life, and I thought to myself: it’s now or never. And that was that.
In its essence, that is the lesson at the heart of any Pride march: that we are all better, more fulfilled versions of ourselves when we are able to live freely and openly.
Yet still too often, young people today fear coming out because they might not be accepted by their families, or they might face abuse and discrimination.
Sadly, it follows that people who are identifiable as LGBT+ in one way or another self-censure to avoid stares, comments, or worse.
This why Pride is still very much needed.
Of course, it’s a celebration and an opportunity to get together with friends and loved ones for one big rainbow-coloured party. But it is also, and must still be, a protest.
Because of how it was born, Pride is inherently political.
There are very few things as political as making a stand of defiance and declaring to the world that we’re here in all our LGBT+ glory, there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with us, and we’re not going anywhere.
It is through events like Pride that progress is made. It is through the tireless activism of the LGBT+ movement that society changes. And it is through our actions that we build a better world.
Thirty years on from that very first LGBT+ march in Cardiff – born out of necessity in response to a homophobic government that would have seen people like us live our lives in shame – I am one of three openly LGBT+ politicians in the Senedd.
And I am proud to be the first openly gay politician in Wales to lead a political party.
That is no coincidence.
We are all shaped by our communities, by our experiences, by the people we meet and the ideas we happen upon.
Meeting the lesbians and gay men who came from London to support my community in 1984 shaped me. And seeing how my community reacted by giving them a warm Ammanford welcome shaped me even more so.
Though times have changed and things are relatively better for the LGBT+ community we are still so far away from being able to live truly free.
It was the black lesbian author and activist Audre Lorde who said, “’I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own”.
And she was right. None of us can truly be free until we are all free.
The arrow of history may bend toward justice but it’s not inevitable. And the best tribute we can pay to those who went before us is to keep up the fight – to remain loud, proud and visible.
It is in that spirit I offer my best wishes to all those attending Pride Cymru this weekend. Take care of yourselves, enjoy, and remember that by simply being there and taking part, you are helping to drive the change that can make our country better.
Because I truly believe that together we can build that new Wales we are fighting for. We can build a Wales that can stand as a beacon of equality to the rest of the world. We can build a Wales where each one of us is able to be our true and full selves without fear.
Wouldn’t that be something that we could all be proud of?
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This obsession with sexuality is unhealthy for individuals and society at large. Our sexual inclinations currently enjoy a signification they really don’t deserve. We should not defined by which sex we are attracted to. We have much more going for us as individuals than that. As for “pride”, we should neither feel pride nor shame regarding our sexuality. By the way, who was it who said “Pride comes before the fall” ?
You miss the point Simon. The whole circus is about “gestures” which is far more attractive to most of our politicians as it does not entail lasting effort. I hear that Drakeford is leading the parade today although he’s likely to stick out like a sore thumb. However Leanne’s earlier pronouncements – homophobia and trans being the main focus of her life, it seems – have scared our First Minister into a response which is not likely to earn him much credit among the more critical thinkers among the assorted LGBT community. They’ll spot a phoney a mile off !
The fight for equality has been achieved politically and every other way, so why cant people just get on with it, we dont have a heterosexual pride marches, or flags and such like. all identity politics will get to be very divisive so or later.
Yes, however there is still too much homophobia and still too many young people who feel uncomfortable expressing their sexuality. It’s a celebration of what has been achieved and a hope that one day Pride marches won’t be needed; A world where diversity is accepted by everybody. If ever straight people become oppressed then Straight Pride marches will be needed. Pride has always been criticised by certain sections of society and it seems that continues, albeit now in the form of ‘Great, we get it, it’s not needed anymore
Adam is living in the past. Nowadays, ‘stares’ if any are reserved for those flaunting fetishes and/or pretending to be female despite clear male attributes. The one carrying Plaid’s banner in the centre of the picture quit Plaid two years ago. No longer “Gay Pride”, the “Pride” of today is run as a business and increasingly used for promotional purposes by UK businesses. It also shares a political agenda with Stonewall’s LGBT eg. for removing single-sex facilities, so it’s quite wrong for Health Boards and Education authorities to sign up to their LGBT+ programme. Moreover, “Pride” is increasingly divisive, even… Read more »
Today LGBTQ+ Prides great success has lead them to now put all their emphasis on queer theory, transgender ideology to justify there existence.. We all want to be ‘free’ but there is a huge clash with women’s rights. Adam is more candid in his interview with QX magazine. He outlines his priorities, He wants to move away from traditional binary ideas of gender and provide young people with the proper space and support for them to choose who they want to be, rather than have that choice made for them. He is saying that biology is out dated. He wants… Read more »
Do you and Max write these comments together after dinner, Anne? Why don’t you put your phone down and take up a hobby – maybe pottery, horse riding or a photography class?
“the buggers are legal now – what more are they after” * – As relevant now as when Tom Robinson sang back in the 1970’s. Equality has not been achieved, even though huge strides have been made legally. Attitudes in some quarters are still negative, homophobic and transphobic attacks are on the increase and the rights of LGBTQ people around the world are on the attack from a populist right. Pride is a celebration of diversity, all are welcome – its inclusive. Witness the large numbers of straight allies on the march and enjoying the festival atmosphere. Yes there are… Read more »
Queer soups and lesbian potlucks featured in the radical lesbian beginnings in the US http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/why-do-lesbians-have-potlucks-on-pride. Modern lesbians also reject the “manliness” of heterosexual meat eating men http://caroljadams.blogspot.com/2012/03/homophobia-and-sexual-politics-of-meat.html Gay campaigner Peter Tatchell likewise rejects the weak message of today’s “Pride” as massaged for commercial purposes https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/28/pride-rainbow-branded-capitalism-stonewall-lgbt
I think you completely miss the point of my “red meat of heterosexuality” comment. It was about a class of women, called political lesbians in the 1980s – who were heterosexuals who gave up men for political reasons and then tried to lecture women who are attracted to women on what feminism and lesbianism should be. Its patronising and homophobic. I also have issues with Pride as just a celebration that ignores the politics but that doesn’t mean that the pride events shouldn’t be lauded and supported. We have a long way to go. Going back to the early 1970… Read more »
No disrespect, but I think that, bearing in mind Cymru’s dire position both politically and economically at the moment, most Cymry don’t care one way or another about that particular issue right now.
Most people, and gays in my experience, want a quiet life.
Some want to wave a huge plastic penis in the air.
What about those who love dogs ……….goats………….horses?
Be very careful.
Yes – the call for a society “where every person is free to live their lives and contribute equally” sounds much like the preposterous “Queer theory” https://t.co/nlDMTWG3oj which would cover adult sex using children and animals as paedophile liberation.