Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to attend Pride Cymru, a vibrant celebration of love, acceptance, and equality. As a proud member of PRISM, the Welsh Government’s LGBTQ+ employee network, I had the honour of marching in the parade alongside my work colleagues for the very first time. Previously, I had only worked in various schools and given that schools don’t usually participate in pride parades, this was a first-time experience for me.
The sunny, hot day set the stage for an unforgettable experience filled with laughter, camaraderie, and a powerful sense of pride. As the day kicked off, the streets of Cardiff came alive with a widespread wave of colour, music, and joyous energy. The pride parade showcased the diversity and resilience of the LGBTQ+ community. Decked out in rainbow attire and armed with whistles, we joined the parade, proudly representing the Welsh Government. Our pride playlist blaring through our portable speaker ramped up an atmosphere of pure celebration. We had everything from Gloria Gaynor to Diana Ross, and Cascada to Kylie Minogue and many more.
Also joining me were Catrin and Kieran, two friends that I had invited. A particularly memorable moment during the parade was when my friend Kieran and I, held a large banner representing PRISM. It was no easy task – we’d often get a gust of wind that would almost snatch the banner from us. So, full of enthusiasm, I kept reminding Kieran that if he wanted to turn his wings into guns, he’d need to hold the banner higher for everyone to see. Kieran definitely wanted the ground to conveniently swallow me up at the time, but standards are important and I’m glad he persevered.
However, all rainbows and glitter aside – it’s important to recognise why we’re there in the first place. Some people may wonder why LGBTQ+ members still feel the need to parade throughout the streets. After all, homosexuality has been decriminalised in the UK for 56 years and trans people have been able to change their legal gender in the UK since 2005. But that doesn’t mean that LGBTQ+ do not face any sort of discrimination. According to a 2017 Stonewall Cymru report, ‘almost one in four LGBT people (23%) have experienced a hate crime or incident’. Moreover, it’s almost unimaginable to think that some LGBTQ+ people in Wales were offered or have undergone conversion practices. To add to that, as of May 2023, there are 70 countries, where homosexuality is outlawed, nearly half of which are in Africa.
Whilst this all may seem quite heavy to read, it’s the exact reason why we march the streets with such passion. Pride parades have always been a demonstration for our rights and is serious business, albeit that we don’t clash with the police – not anymore anyway. But, standing alongside fellow LGBTQ+ individuals and allies reminds us all, that even though we are not there yet, our progress throughout the years is something to celebrate. Generations before us have fought for our empowerment and equality, and it’s imperative that it never gets unravelled. So, whilst we may be shouting throughout the streets to make our voices heard, advocating for a world where love knows no boundaries, it’s also one glorious jamboree.
Sean Walker – PRISM member