Monday, 27 June 2016

Pride 2016

I was sitting on top of The Crags, a range of hills in the heart of Edinburgh. I was with a friend, we were having a picnic, and I was wearing unicorn socks and rainbow laces.

It was the day of London Pride 2015. I was hoping to be there, but instead I took a picture of my shoes and socks and posted it on facebook with the caption "Marching London Pride in solidarity from Edinburgh today". It wasn't the first time I'd had to leave London for mental health reasons. Every once in a while there's a panic alarm in my brain that starts telling me I need to go, get out, leave, be anywhere but home. I'm lucky that I have incredible friends all over the UK who are always willing to let me stay a few days. So I make calls, and I pack my travel bag, and I hop on a megabus. I'm never gone for long, and it never feels like long enough, but I'm really grateful I can do this.

I've never lived anywhere apart from London, so I don't know if it's just the suffocation of the city, or the familiarity, or the constantness of it all. It feels like a combination of all three of these things. Last year would have been my first Pride, but I know that if I had been in London at the time my head would have been a mess. I wasn't coping before I left. But in Edinburgh, everything was calm. I went for long walks, wandered the streets of the old town, and hung out with people that I love. Being in a different space seems to do wonders for my metal health. It's almost always an instantaneous fix, like hopping into another dimension where everything is okay.

This year, I attended my first Pride. And it was particularly special because I got to go with two of the people I care about most in the world. I hate how corporate Pride has become, but we marched for what it once was - a protest. And we celebrated queerness and community and the beauty of having so many LGBTQ+ people in one place, standing strong and proud.

In the past month I've attended two funerals - the first was for the 49 victims of the Orlando shooting, the second was for Labour MP Jo Cox. When we broke from Europe on Friday it felt like another tragedy. I spent the whole day listening to the news in sorrow and painting signs for Pride in rainbow colours. It feels like the world has been folding in this past month. Fear and selfishness have reigned triumphant. I'm happy for events like Pride - marches of solidarity, where we remind each other of the goodness in humanity. This weekend we stood together, stood up for love, and it was beautiful. I'm holding on to that.

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