THE PRIDE

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Although I’ve brandished this post with that all-too familiar rainbow motif, representative of our world-wide LGBT community and the array of colour within, in actual fact, it isn’t all rainbows and smiles all the time, is it?

For so many people, ‘coming out’ is an issue. For so many people, ‘coming out’ is still a thing. But the question still left unanswered is: why, in 2015, does ‘coming out’ still need to even exist? Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware of how important coming out is to the gay community, so I am not trying to dismiss it, criticise it or belittle it, but I just can’t help but think that life would be a little bit more fair without the need for it. Idealistic, perhaps. But let’s aim high.

Think about this: why is it okay that I, as a heterosexual female, didn’t have to sit down with my parents to let them know that I fancied a boy at my school? And why is it okay that it would have been expected of me, had I actually fancied one of my best girl mates, to sit them down with a worried look on my face and a nervous rumble in my tummy, to tell them that, actually, what makes me happy is Mary, not Mark?

Being straight is a given, a basic human right, a no brainer. Being gay? Something to be discussed and to some degree, exposed.

I should say at this point that my parents are incredibly liberal. I could’ve brought home anything – man, woman, alien – they would have been fine, albeit a little nervous meeting the in-laws. But no matter how liberal they are, they still sat me down as a teenager and forced me to partake in the most awkward conversation of my life, whilst missing out on some vital information. They spoke about condoms. STI’s. The Pill. But at no point, as I shuffled in my seat and grimaced at the impromptu and somewhat premature discussion of my future sex life, did my parents explain that I might actually fall in love with a woman. Trust me, had they even touched on the topic of same-sex sex, I would have staked claim to being a lesbian immediately, if only to cut the condom and pregnancy chat shorter than they intended it to be.

As it turns out (although I do have a massive thing for Felicity Jones), I haven’t fallen in love with a woman and condoms and pregnancy scares have been very much a part of my life. But what if I had fancied that girl in my History class? It’s the very fact that being gay was never given to me as an option that would have made me feel like something was wrong with me. Again, this is nothing to do with my parent’s parenting, it’s the fact that it wasn’t talked about enough (although my Catholic education could be to blame for that one).

The very fact that Ireland had to vote this year – despite the fact that they said YES – serves as a reminder that, in 2015, we are still questioning whether those who aren’t ‘straight’, should be allowed basic human rights. Questioning whether two men or two women should be permitted to express their love for each other in a smart suit or nice dress makes me grimace. And the fact that there were still a handful of people who voted ‘no’ doesn’t even bear thinking about. And the worst part? It’s not just Ireland, is it? I have grown to know lots of men interested in men and women interested in women over the years and, sadly, they have ALL been subject to homophobic harassment. Some even stemming from home. And it has to stop.

This post was supposed to go up pre-Glastonbury, just in time for Pride. I’m glad I was too busy packing to post it. Worthy Farm is a place of complete oneness, acceptance and equality for all human beings and being there for five days reminded me of how ignorant people can be and how much further we still have to go in the real world. Glastonbury is not a playground for delusional, wacky idealists. It’s how things should be; some people just haven’t realised it yet.

I don’t want this post to be all doom and gloom though. Things are changing and I am thankful that my children (if I choose to have them) will grow up in a progressive world where, each day, we get one step closer to not only accepting homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender choices, but they will grow up believing that these choices are nothing to write home about, which sits way higher than ‘acceptance’ in my opinion.

To put it simply, everyone has the right to love and be loved. It’s the most beautiful, painful and extreme of all the emotions and, as humans, we are completely and utterly powerless to it. Lean into love, with whomever it may be with. And don’t worry about letting people know or explaining yourself. You’re lucky to have found it. And for those who don’t like your choices? Stuff ’em.

THE FEMALE

Emma Watson

My most memorable International Women’s Day to date was the year I saw Florence + The Machine at Ally Pally. Granted, I didn’t buy the tickets in celebration of womankind, but it was a nice coincidence all the same.

I went there with a secret hope that she would acknowledge the day, and Florence being Florence, she did. In the best way ever.

After howling her way through hundreds of hits, she asked the men in the audience to lift the women nearest to them onto their shoulders. My brother is 6ft2 and frequents the gym daily, but I assumed he’d still tell me and my thunder thighs to jog on. Much to my surprise however, I felt myself being lifted into the air, along with hundreds of other women, desperately clinging onto my pint of wine and high-fiving everyone within reach.

I felt like a rock star.

And that’s how I think women should be made to feel every day.

Forget the princess crap – although a tiara would be nice – we would instead simply love to live on the edge with you, to be believed in like you, to be as bold and brave as you’ve been allowed to be, to run across stages barefoot; screaming and howling like Florence herself because it makes us feel good. Chuck us in the air, challenge us, swear at us (we’ll swear back) and let us be wild and free and live like the creatures we were made to be. We’re resilient you know, all it takes is for you to give us a chance to be.

Asking the men to lift women onto their shoulders in celebration was so symbolic of our fight for equal rights, because without men lending us a helping hand, we’re fighting a losing battle. You, dear gentleman, are crucial. Despite this, there are still so many who will do anything to avoid being deemed a feminist, mainly because they’re unsure of what the word even means. So if Emma (Goddess) Watson wasn’t clear enough, then I’ll try to be: a feminist is someone who wants equal rights and opportunities for both men and women. That’s it. No frills, no fancies, no shouting, no screaming; just a world where you, your mum, your niece and your brother, all have the same chance to be the best human they can be.

So although we are a long way from our end goal, I think it’s important to acknowledge the advances that we have made so far because, well, glass half full and all that. We now live in a time where The Oscars are less about manicures and more about Lopez, Streep and Arquette coming together in raptures for equal pay. A place where Amal Alamuddin is no longer referred to as George Clooney’s wife. And a world where being called a slut on the street is being challenged (finally).

Believe it or not people, times, although slowly, are a-changing. And I’m excited.

So lift up the women in your life, high onto your shoulders and celebrate them this Sunday. I don’t need to list the reasons why you should.

Have a good one.