I expected my straight friends to always come to Pride – this year, just one is

I expected my straight friends to always come to Pride – this year, just one is

July 1, 2023

I’ll never forget my first Pride. 

It was in London in 2017 when I was 21 years old and I went with seven of my straight girlfriends, as well as one of their former partners. 

Dressed in arainbow tie-dye T-shirt, covered in glitter and wearing a crown, I watched in awe as the parade passed us by. As somebody who had accepted, but never been completely comfortable with their queerness, the day made me feel proud.  

I’d never felt so right in my skin. It was also the first time I’d been surrounded by so many queer people being themselves and I felt so loved by my straight friends. Them being with me on that day meant their ally cards were firmly laminated. 

Six years later, just one friend is coming with me to Pride in London today. I know that people make plans way ahead in advance and some might be on holiday, but I can’t help but wonder if people just don’t support the cause in the way they used to. 

And I’m not the only person that feels this way. A gay man and trans woman I regularly see at Pride events will be travelling as a party of two this year, whereas they are usually also joined by straight and cis friends.

Another queer person has told me they’re ‘not bothering’ to come at all because they don’t have anybody to travel with and don’t feel comfortable journeying alone. 

Pride Month 2023

Pride Month is here, with members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies celebrating their identities, accomplishments, and reflecting on the struggle for equality throughout June.

This year, Metro.co.uk is exploring the theme of family, and what it means to the LGBTQ+ community.

Find our daily highlights below, and for our latest LGBTQ+coverage, visit our dedicated Pride page.

  • Map shows London Pride parade 2023 route and best places to stand
  • 5 things you (probably) don’t know about the ‘world’s largest sexual minority’
  • New rainbow plaques will stop ‘hidden LGBTQ+ histories’ from being ‘lost forever’

Latest London news

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To get the latest news from the capital visit Metro.co.uk’s visit Metro’s London news hub.

I came out as gay when I was 16 and have never felt love and support like it. I think my friends knew my sexuality before I even did and they celebrated me feeling like my true self. 

My first Pride was four years later once I’d moved to London and I only felt that love and support heighten. 

In the years since,my starting party of eight has fluctuated as I’ve attended Pride events. But a strong three or four of my closest friends always jump at the chance to don their brightest apparel and celebrate love in the streets.  

When I realised it was just one this year, I felt disappointed, my heart sunk. That’s because – now more than ever – I think we need our allies to show up for us. 

It doesn’t feel as safe to be part of the queer community in the UK as it used to. The Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition may have been the ones to introducesame-sex marriage a decadeago, but the Tory Party are now considering guidance in schools that could stop protecting trans children.  

As a result, I’m regularly greeted by (usually) cisgender people arguing about what rights trans people should have or commentators throwing their toys out of the pram because they can’t have a straight pride flag when I turn on the TV.  

Recently, queer people like me have had to think twice about whether our Pride events are even safe havens. This is especially so after Take That’s Howard Donald was removed from a Nottingham Pride Festival line-up after he liked tweets calling for Disney to be ‘defunded’ after holding a Pride event and one criticising a trans-inclusive menstruation campaign. 

Public figures like Laurence Fox are being applauded on social media for attempting to burn the progress Pride flag and calling it ‘child mutilation bunting’, while some companies are pulling back their LGBTQ+ support due to fears of boycott.

Recently, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was filmed mocking the idea that trans women can have penises at a Conservative Party conference.  

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In light of this, I wanted to know if my friends are no longer allies that can spare one day out of the year to fight for the parts of my community’s freedom we’re clinging on to. So I asked them.

One didn’t realise the date so it clashed with other plans she’d made, while another expressed concerns about the large crowds and her accessibility needs. 

I have to respect my friends’ reasons for not coming, but I’d be lying if I said I was completely satisfied. I believe that if you feel strongly enough about a cause you can rearrange plans to show your support and I would like to think that if a friend asked me to show allyship to a community they are part of, I would push through my concerns for the greater good. 

Thankfully, last year’s Pride in London was the biggest in British history, with 1.5million people lining the streets to celebrate and show solidarity with our community and I hope that I’m in the minority of people struggling to find that support. 

Unfortunately,I’ve been feeling more helpless about the way LGBTQ+ people are being viewed online and social media is feeling like an increasingly dangerous place to show your queerness.

At times, I wonder if it’s worth even going to Pride events this year. 

But I have to be there. LGBTQ+ people have the responsibility to be visible, to show younger and closeted members of the community that there will always be people that love them and that there are amazing straight allies like my friend who will stand with them no matter what. 

So today,you will find me dancing in the streets of London in my usual loud and colourful attire. 

This year, there will be a fight in my being there – I’ll be protesting just as much as I am partying.  

I urge you to find your nearest Pride event and stand with us. We need your help more than ever.

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