Picture credit: Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images
Artillery Row

Proud of what?

The yearly rituals feel more corporate than counter-cultural

We’re only a few days into Pride and I’ve already had enough of it.

In fact, I’d had enough of it before it started, but now it’s under way I find myself feeling increasingly beleaguered — each fresh sighting of that ghastly “Progress Pride” flag eliciting a small whimper of distress and dark thoughts about a military coup. (Unfortunately, this is 2023, and such a coup wouldn’t be led by a Lt. Colonel David Stirling type. We’d be stuck with yet another squelchy Blairite.)

With the rad trad junta out, endurance is the only option — and there is plenty to endure. I suppose it’s character building, like getting caught in a downpour or a boring church service.

Indeed, the parallel with religion feels apt

Indeed, the parallel with religion feels apt. What was once an element of a legitimate campaign for homosexual and bisexual equality has morphed into a kind of sacred festival: part hyper-sexualised adult entertainment, part care in the community.

It’s always baffled me why anyone over the age of 8, or with an IQ over 8, would wish to coat themselves in glitter and parade down the street at lunchtime, probably with their top off — but I have realised now that for a certain type of self-styled LGBTQIA+er it is a sort of ceremonial rite.

There is a kind of text, too, at least a set of mantras, repeated over and over during this most holy of months.

We’ll hear all about the terrible, imaginary bigotry of the British working classes. Teary straight men and women with pink hair will shriek that they “exist, too!” We’ll be told that Mr Sunak is like a Nazi — and JK Rowling actually is a Nazi.

It’s cobblers, of course — but the ramblings of fanatics usually are. Particularly after eight pints of strong drink, and, maybe, some nice drugs.

My real complaint, though, is not the production, as synthetic as it might be. It’s the politics: more specifically, the implication and assertion that the highly contested politics of Pride are somehow representative of a homosexual and bisexual “community”.

They are not. There is no such thing as an LGBTQIA+ “community” — how could there be? Everybody who might be included amongst those letters is an individual, and those individuals that trouble themselves to think will arrive at all sorts of conclusions, because that’s what individuals do.

Speaking purely for myself, whilst I think equality under the law is to be celebrated, I regard much of what is now done under the “Progress Pride” flag of inclusivity, diversity and supposed equity — attacking women, rewriting history, destroying people’s careers, carrying out invasive medical procedures on physically healthy children — as shameful.

I’m amazed by the ease with which so many, whatever their sex or sexuality, are prepared to sign up to, endorse and wave through such cultural and social carnage, whilst going out of their way to depth charge even the most gentle debate. Of course, some of these Good People™ are simply sociopaths. Many more are frightened of reprisals. Some, dismayingly, seem to believe in it.

One is left thinking, “Proud of what?”

My own sexuality is a source of neither pride nor shame — it just is. The one minor irritation is in the formation of long term relationships: both heterosexual women and homosexual men tend to suspect you’re spinning a yarn. But we all have our crosses to bear — and, for all we’ll hear over the summer about hate, bearing them in Britain is easier than just about every other country in the world.

Perhaps part of the problem is a residual yearning to be counter-cultural — which is impossible when your movement is being celebrated by every establishment figure, every politician, every organisation, every corporation. 

Still, the machine must keep going, which I think explains the direction in the last decade. Fires must be started, so they can be put out. Money, ultimately, needs to be made.

That’s what it’s all about now: power and money. So I refuse to play. I refuse to pay, as well.

Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print

Try five issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £10

Critic magazine cover