Keep Calm & Have Pride
Reflections on Bourne Free 2012 (Bournemouth's Gay Pride)
Here I am on an open top bus awaiting the start of the parade sporting my lush Keep Calm & Have Pride T shirt
I have been debating for a few weeks about what to say in this post, a little odd for someone that usually speaks first and thinks second or sometimes doesn't think at all, but I know that some people are uncomfortable with the thought of Christians at a gay pride event.
Any how this is a reflection on the day not a post on how others feel about me attending the day!
So I rock up at 9am in Bournemouth's lower gardens to meet up with my team mates to start the process of dressing our exhibition area & one of the first things that hits me is how happy & positive people are. Its early for a Saturday, the weathers a little grey and the gardens are buzzing with chatter and excitement as all the stall holders are setting up marques, introducing themselves and pitching in to help each other. The pride spirit of unity was tangible and addictive, no one questioned anyone motives, there was no sense of competition and I got brought a coffee from a random stranger ... sweetness & majesty!
As the young people start to gather I am surprised to see how many of them have made the effort to be there, its before lunch and yet crowds of them are there ready to march, many dressed up for the occasion. I hear conversations about the history of pride, of coming out to parents en route to the event & run downs of who is coming and all the latest gossip as we board a bus to take us to the start location of the parade. And then the inevitable happens, the heavens open and it literally pours with rain, as we sit on the bus we all look disappointed, lol some even a little scared as they realise this might not be the fun, sunny event they had planned.
Running from the bus stop through Boscombe gardens we spot an open top bus with people shouting at us. My heart beats faster as I try to work out what they are saying to us, are they giving us hassle already? I mean the parade hasn't even started! But no the teachers union are shouting at us to jump on their bus, they are offering us refuge and yet again unity. As we step on the bus the sun comes out and a rainbow appears, I chuckle at this point, is this what God wants me to experience of the day? random acts of kindness at every stopping point?
As we quickly dry out the other parade attendees start arriving, colours, heels, smiles, music, laughter, photos and joy that's what I remember the most about this point. Other young people not usually part of our project are added to our numbers by the organisers and instant friends are made as we settle into 3rd place in the line up ready to leave for the route ahead.
A few meters into the parade and we notice the music at the front of the parade isn't working, we seem to be arriving in silence and in a moment of inspiration a young women with us starts chanting '*blank* is awesome cause I can be exactly who I am!' that's it it catches on instantly and suddenly 50 of us are singing it at the top of our voices. within mins the stewards move us to the front of the parade and there we are leading the way through town our anthem of acceptance ringing loudly as I pass the vicarage my friends live in.
I spent the day amazed, I had been welcomed, included and accepted & I hope I had responded in the same way as I walked back to my car at the end of the day I pondered ...How wicked would it be if you could hand on heart stand in church and sing 'Church is awesome cause I can be exactly who I am!'
*blank represents the name of the project that I work with*