What I learned at London Pride: there isn’t a fine line between love and hate

While loved-up revellers celebrate in London, LGBT marchers in Istanbul get shot with rubber bullets. There is no fine line there.

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Of all the boring platitudes, “there’s a fine line between love and hate” has got to be the boringest. Come on. One is love, the other is hate. They’re even more different than lemons and tampons. And you never hear anyone say, “there’s a fine line between lemons and tampons”.

So, here’s some love for you. Last weekend, as you may have noticed on account of all the rainbow flags and puddles of vomit, was London Pride. I’m going to let you in on a secret: I don’t particularly like Pride. It’s not that I don’t think it’s still relevant and that LGBT visibility is important. The ongoing debate about how corporate and apolitical Pride has become is another thing entirely. I love that it exists, I just don’t particularly cherish being at it. And it’s almost entirely to do with my bone-deep loathing of public revelry of any kind. In my ideal world, toilets would be for pissing, shitting and expressing joy.

I’d like to say that I go to Pride (every single year) through a sense of duty to show solidarity with all of my non-hetero brothers and sisters – or something like that. In reality, I go because my friends ask me to and I’m a people pleaser.

So here I am, once again, amidst the nauseous, pulsating crowds of what the papers always refer to as “revellers”. I suppose that just being here and having some gold glitter strewn across my sour face makes me a “reveller” too. Even if I don’t know how to revel. Revelry doesn’t exactly come naturally to someone whose default emotional response to pretty much anything is, “I wish I was in bed, reading Wikipedia articles”.

Stupidly, I’ve temporarily abandoned one group of friends, in search of another (never, never, never leave the people you’re with at Pride. You may never see them again). Then, all of a sudden, I’m in the “I have lost everyone I know and love” apocalypse and I’m just pushing through the packed streets of Soho, looking – I imagine – more stressed than anyone covered in glitter has ever looked. So I take refuge in Trisha’s. Trisha’s, in case you aren’t aware, is a basement bar known only to media twats and people who have been going out in Soho since the 50s. The kind of people who wear hats and have stories, true or not, about doing coke with Princess Anne’s secret drag queen lover. It’s my favourite bar in the world. It’s also my designated Pride escape pod.

As I hoped, there’s hardly anyone down here. It’s just me and two quite drunk women in their late forties. They’re both wearing Hawaiian lays and being a bit loud.

“We just got married,” one of them says to no one in particular.

Oh God. They’re so in love. Recently, I’ve been rethinking my stance on marriage. I used to think about gay marrying the fuck out of someone great. It’s what I thought I eventually wanted. Now I’m not so sure. Apart from anything, working in media and living in London makes splashing out on even a small wedding seem beyond reckless. But this pair of drunk Trisha’s newlyweds are, it pains me to admit this, choking me up. Same-sex marriage has only been legal in the UK since last year. And, last week, it was finally legalised in all fifty American states. Even the most Goddy ones. I probably won’t marry. But, when I was this nine-year-old lesbian who thought her sexuality was repulsive, I never imagined that, one day, I’d be sitting in a public place, in the company of two post-marital, loved-up women. This means so much more to me than the, albeit well meaning, revellers outside.

So, there’s the love part. But what about hate? Earlier this week, footage emerged of police “dispersing” gay Pride marchers in Istanbul with water cannon and rubber bullets. It would be irresponsible and wrong of me to argue that, over here in the west, marriage equality marks the end of the struggle for LGBT rights. But, “revelling” in peace with the love-drunk gays of London one day, then, the next, seeing Turkey’s LGBT community unable to do the same means that I’ll never be able to reconcile love and hate. They’ll always be lemons and tampons to me. 

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist.

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