Belfast Pride 2017 – bigger and better than ever!

Marching at Pride.

It’s now the Monday after what has been yet another fantastic Pride parade in Belfast. This is the third annual pride I’ve been to and the second in which I’ve joined the march. The weather was fantastic, a welcome break from the torrential downpours we’ve been having recently. So much for Gay Pride causing hurricane Katrina!

People lined the streets in an array of rainbow colours, all different races and religious backgrounds. It’s estimated there were thousands and I’d definitely believe it. It looked like a sea of colour and smiling faces. Everyone was so happy just dancing, hugging, and embracing each other. Parents with their kids, friends with their pals, partners together holding hands and looking into each other’s sparkling eyes, showing how thankful they are to have found each other. I just wish I could bottle up the atmosphere and give our haters a sip, if they only knew how magical these times are.

Unicorn at Pride Village.

The biggest thing that struck me this year was how many young people were there to support the parade, especially the teenagers. From Castle Court car park to the Big Fish you couldn’t take more than a few steps before bumping into a group of kids adorned in rainbow flags, glitter and face paint. It’s lovely to think that society has made big enough steps now that our younger generation can be more open with each other at a young age, that they can support each other and are willing to stand shoulder to shoulder in order to challenge views and attitudes. There seems to be movement in the right direction for young LGBTQ+ people. It’s just a pity that there is little to no queer sex education in schools.

There’s been lots of great media coverage of Pride this year. Record numbers of marchers and supporting public. I absolutely love the fact that the police and Gardai joined in, despite some opposition from politicians (I’ll not name names… we all know who they are!). I think it’s such a positive message to send out to people that the police are there to support you whoever you are and that hate crime should be reported (especially with hate crime increasing drastically since last year). Unfortunately some politicians can’t see past their own prejudices and misinterpreted view of what Pride means.
The Irish Taoiseach came to visit NI during Pride. Great to see some cross-border support and a gay man in a position of power who can really make a difference in his country. I can’t wait for the day we have the same in NI. It does annoy me a bit that a lot of the media was surrounding his visit rather than the work that so many people on the ground put in. But hey, any news is good news when it comes to LGBTQ+ people.

I thought I’d share some of the comments online I saw when reading news about Pride. Although it’s great to see how much NI has moved forward, there are clearly still some sections of society who hold strong homophobic views;

‘How long until it degrades into paedophilia and people dancing around naked on streets in front of children like in the USA. Disgusting.’

‘Perverts. Their idea of pride is going around with their weenie in front of decent people and children.’

‘A truly sick world we live in!’

‘Keep your perversion behind closed doors you freaks.’

Anti-Pride protest by a Christian group at Belfast Pride 2017.

I remember reading a comment a few years back about how there is no need for Pride anymore; ‘sure we’ve got so much equality nowadays’. People like this so often comment on how they don’t feel the need for a ‘STRAIGHT pride’ or to ‘promote their heterosexuality’. Well, it is comments like the ones above that are the reason WHY. Until we keep challenging people like this then we won’t stop!

– Chris