I’ve never really given much thought to love in terms of it’s meaning or how it should be done or by whom or to whom; Love happens. Love happens however it happens; sometimes it happens during our early years on the playground before we even hear the word or consider it’s meaning. And sometimes it doesn’t happen until well into our 20s or 40s when we’re tired and almost forget it’s a possible feeling. Sometimes it develops with our best friends, and sometimes it develops with a complete stranger. Some of us recognize it the moment it happens and some of us are oblivious to it altogether. Some of us fall in love and we describe it as the best thing to ever happen to us…some of us describe it as the worst. Some people like men, some people women, and there are some of us who can’t help but love both. There are no boundaries when it comes to love, it happens however it wants to happen and we can’t control it–Love is Love, it is not a decision.
I’ve never experienced Pride before, not in New York City, not in Chicago, not anywhere that I’ve ever been. I’ve always been more of an admirer from afar, never participating in the festivities but supporting it completely. But considering the current state of my country and all the political controversy surrounding the president (“the” because I’m not proud to call him “mine”), this year I felt the desire to show my support during a time wherein some parts of my own country it is non-existent. I celebrated Pride in another country, unlike my own but still so passionate and accepting of the LGBT community; the experience has been eye-opening in so many ways.
My friends and I decided to head to the Pride parade celebration during the weekend so we ventured into the city around noon to partake in the festivities. We took the tube to Trafalgar Square, the center for most of the parade’s activities. The moment I stepped out of the tube station and onto the street I could see an abundance of rainbow flags and apparel moving through the streets. The feeling was empowering — to see a sea of colors in every direction representing not only the LGBT community but the power of love and acceptance. When I look at that colorful flag I see more than just colors; I see more than gays, lesbians, and trans, I see love.
We followed the never-ending rainbow trail of humans to the square where we were met with a line to enter the festival area. The line was long, looping around several times and stretching over much of Trafalgar Square but it moved quickly and before we knew it we were in. Immediately we were greeted by a wall of colorful flowers and the sounds of the performers on the concert stage just down the steps from Trafalgar Square. The wall of flowers was a promotion of love and adoration, where flowers were to be taken with the intent of being given to a loved one. A crowd of people surrounded the wall, everyone taking flowers with the intent of gifting them to someone they cared about. It was a heart-tingling sight to see the interactive art installment immediately after entering the square; the first thing you saw when you walked in was essentially a wall of love.
The rest of the square was filled with various tents occupied by volunteers handing out bags, flags, pride merchandise and face painting in honor of pride. Down below there was a performance going on; as my friends and I walked along the strip of tents I couldn’t help but bob my head the lyrics of Whitney Housten. The crowd down below was large and there was no doubt in my mind that everyone in it was pumped. My friends and I watched the concert and joined in the festivities as various artists took the stage and did their thing.
When it came time to actually join the parade I found myself so close to those in the crowd of proud individuals that I felt as though we were one; we were all proud. The energy of the crowd was unquestionable and toxic, the vibes were contagious. I began singing and dancing with everyone just happy to be alive. The turnout for this parade was much more than I expected, the longer I stayed to watch the parade the more people seem to come onto the street to partake in observation as well. The pride crowd just got larger and larger as time went on, much like the number of those in the LGBTQ community coming out to stand up against any type of hate.
The day was a day of love, there’s no other way for me to explain it; it was an experience that one couldn’t fully comprehend unless they actually had it. I was lucky enough to share this day with the people of London, and with my friends.
Diversity is something I’ve come to take for granted; having lived in New York City my whole life, a city that prides itself as a melting pot of ethnicities, I’ve never been in an environment where there wasn’t a diverse range of people. In this program, I’ve met those who are the opposite, who have lived in their small towns and have never met so many people from different backgrounds and of different ethnicities. I was once under the impression that it was common sense to accept someone for who they are, and that everyone did it because anything opposite that would be wrong. But some of my friends come from towns where someone like me ( a woman of color) would get stared down if they were to step foot into a restaurant. Some of my classmates come from towns where someone sporting the Confederate flag is a normality. Some of my classmates come from places where I could get shot down for just…being.
Unbeknownst to me (until now) I come from a city where people are more accepting of diversity than in many other areas of the United States. It’s been exceptionally eye-opening being part of this program, I now know of the different ways the word “diversity” could be applied. It’s not all about class, nor is it only restricted to sexuality or gender, but it can go as far as to include race. The pride parade in London gave me new found appreciation of the city where I come from because just like back at home, Londoners have shown me that they are just as capable of such human acceptance.