We send young men to die in war all the time but don’t have to look at that close up. AIDS brought dying men to the streets of the west. People were horrified. But did anybody notice this is going on all the time in war zones around the planet.? The British government profits from arms manufacture, it is part of a global death culture that brings profits to big business while people’s lives and the planet are destroyed. Do we as gay people really want to celebrate that? Imagine holding someone dying from AIDS as you answer.
It’s not that we can abolish war and weaponry overnight. But as LGBTQI+ people we can stand up for peace between nations, celebration of diversity, healthcare for all – one humanity on Mother Earth. Our Pride parades can still have political purpose. Instead of assuming that the whole of the queer spectrum wishes to ‘parade’ not ‘protest’ could ask next year in a massive survey why we wish to be visible on the streets. For example, we could be marching in the name of our persecuted kin in other countries, including, shamefully, many in the Commonwealth, and express our feelings about their plight.
While in 75 countries gay sexual relationships are illegal, in London the Pride Committee holds its ‘public meeting’ in the guarded confines of the testicular carbunkel that is City Hall. I was outside, part of a diverse rainbow gathering of passionate folk holding a vigil for victims of war, banging drums, chanting and speaking out about the significance of a Red Arrow Flypast being part of the Pride Day. I did not see ANY public turning up for the public meeting. I was in front of the door to the building, behind which security men hovered nervously, and nobody seemed to enter. I do know that some of our number who had gone inside to express their unhappiness at the Red Arrow flypast, were politely but forcibly removed.
Some campaigners would have the military out of the Pride march on the streets as well, but the armed forces are part of our society, and what has been achieved regarding recognition of gay people since 2000 is astounding. The gay sailors and soldiers have earned their right to show off their uniforms on the parade. Surely we all love a man in uniform so why fuss? But Red Arrows in the sky? Giving us a rainbow no doubt. Could be stunning and utterly camp if it wasn’t so insidious. Big Brother is in the sky…hooray Big Brother is over the rainbow. No. Big Brother is a killer. Big Brother is protecting us! NO… Big Brother is exporting arms that are used to kill people, including people like us. Big Brother’s right hand man, Barclays Bank – is leading OUR parade……
and BAE Systems, the British company that makes the Red Arrows aircraft and sells weapons around the world, have been invited to march at Pride. In Saudi Arabia, one of BAE’s best customers, being gay is punishable by death.
AIDS brought the reality of young men dying home to the nation’s streets. Dying in war is just as horrific. There is no Pride in War.
How can we as the lgbtqi community of Great Britain support the perpetuation of war, which cheering the Red Arrows would amount to? We can’t stop the arms trade overnight, but we can deliver a kick up the backside by getting the media to take note of how many are feeling and by getting the Red Arrow flyover stopped.
If a gay Palestinian and a gay Israeli meet, do they attack each other? No, they are more likely to embrace. If a gay Muslim and a gay Christian meet, do they start a war? No, they are more likely to fuck.
We queers exist in every nation, every culture. We are, mostly, people who believe in peace and pleasure, and would wish that for all. The power is in us to reveal to the world it is possible to love everyone, and that everyone deserves love. Beyond borders, beyond religion, beyond fear.
We have the power to stand up for peace, for an end to division and war. But do we have the will, and the heart, to do it? Is the LGBT+ community too enmeshed with the corporate-political-industrial-capitalist-militaristic machine to be able to stand back and critique it? Are we going to go along quietly while the environment gets further destroyed, more species eradicated, while more lives get destroyed by war, more lgbt lives destroyed by prejudice and hate, or can we claim our power and speak as a global tribe of human beings who believe in love and peace for all?