What does Pride mean? People from all walks of life are becoming more and more involved in Pride events, including heterosexual couples, banks, political parties and religious groups. One straight person on the march this year was a lady named Nicola Hunter Page. I asked her a few questions about her background and what Pride means to her.
I asked if Nicola felt that being raised in a gay family affected her views on Pride and equal marriage movements.
She told me how she was raised by her mother, who until she was seven was not “out” to anyone. She was pleasantly surprised to hear about how her maternal aunt came out to the family, and how easily her partner was accepted as a new family member. In Nicola’s eyes, this was all perfectly normal. As she grew up she became aware that these relationships were not necessarily ‘normal’ to other people.
Owing to her family’s acceptance of her aunt’s gay relationship, when Nicola’s mother came out to her it was not an issue. In her opinion, nothing had changed and her mother was still her mother regardless. It was after this that Nicola learned of the discrimination and hatred toward LGBT people and her young mind could not stand people being “nasty or cruel” to her mother or aunts. She took every opportunity she could to stick up for them and defend their rights. “I’ve stayed in that mindset ever since I suppose – what’s important to me is to make people understand that this is my ‘normal’, their normal even, and their right to live that truth!”
When I asked whether or not she feels people have become more accepting of Pride, her reply hit home for me and perhaps it might for you too.
Nicola told me that she feels it has become more accepted in terms of entertainment and such, however she feels “the message is a little lost”. She added that she does know some people who are still very passionate about fighting for their rights and the rights of others, being colourful and most of all proud of who they are and who their friends and family are. “These are the voices the next generation needs to hear,” she says. “I fear it’s becoming another gig for C List celebs to prove they believe in LGBT rights, instead of a powerful movement where our voices rise as one, calling for action. I actually had this discussion with someone who attended the San Francisco Pride last month. She was concerned about going alone because she felt ‘on display’ to hetero-normative people who shamelessly and admittedly go to Pride to ‘get drunk and see the queers in their natural habitat.’ Someone actually said that to her!”
I then asked her about her views on whether or not Pride is being exploited not only by those people but by some LGBTI people themselves.
Nicola told me that she feels in the case of exploiting the event, of course they do. “Loads of different people, they might not otherwise have access to alcohol and music.” She feels that some may use the event as an excuse to try new things and experiment. She thinks that most of the ‘exploitation’ is done subconsciously and not in a devious way. As to the issue of people being not too nice, she feels it is a grave concern. “There’s still too many vulnerable people hurt in different ways,” she told me.
Another issue I asked about was the political participation in the event this year. I asked if she felt that activists made the stalls more about voting for their parties than being there to support the LGBTI community.
“I was pretty shocked that all they wanted to talk about was the Indy ref ,” Nicola said. “I know it’s important, but time and place! If you want to talk politics at Pride make it something more than what everyone in the country is getting anyway. There’s enough coverage that their time could have been more efficiently spent. I would have welcomed politics on a global scale, given the Commonwealth coming – more has to be done to help those overseas. We may be winning battles here in Scotland but there are still whole countries losing the war.”
Nicola also shared her thoughts on equal marriage.
“It’s of absolute vital importance that those outside the LGBT community lend their voices, show support and become involved with these issues because it is a human rights issue and people are still dying, whether by their own hands, other people, or their country. This isn’t a select amount of people only wanting a toy to play with because someone else has it, it’s everyone who feels that no person should think self hatred, denial or punishment is an appropriate response to love. Denying loving couples the right to marry makes a mockery of what marriage means in today’s society – claiming it is only for one man and one woman is like claiming it’s still just a business transaction to hold agency over a woman.” A truly Medieval view of marriage, I told her, and she agreed.
I decided to ask Nicola her take on the youth crowd attending pride in the recent years. Does she feel the day is too focused on their entertainment.
“Perhaps, but only through ignorance. I don’t think that young gay people have had a decent opportunity to learn their own history, and it’s easy to assume Pride is just an event to celebrate being out. It is, yes, but some haven’t realised there’s a deeper story there. I do think there a disconnect between generations – I only know so much because I was far more involved in the gay scene as a child and teen – I have peers who are gay but came out blind, so to speak. Theirs was a personal journey, and for the most part they had no one older to teach them the greater world of LGBT, one that was outside the bars and clubs. Theirs is a very limited world view, ironically. They’re out, but in a very insular way.”
Nicola says: LGBT youth today are not being taught about the struggles of other LGBT communities around the world. Although there are a lot of young people involved with Pride, the majority of them are unaware of their history. There are, however, some who know that although discrimination in Scotland is now mostly history, there are places in the world where this is not the case, and they attend the event to show support for those fighting for their rights. Nicola feels that their voices should be heard just as loud as the older generation because it is vital that their views be seen.
It is nice to know that some straight people are not haters and will go to the ends of the earth to protect the rights of those they love and those they do not know. Nicola is a wonderful woman with an opinion which makes the future of LGBT people look brighter each day. To Nicola, Pride is her ‘normality’ and she will fight for and support causes to ensure that other people’s ‘normalities’ are accepted. A diverse group of people attended Pride this year to show their support for the LGBT community not just in Scotland but worldwide. This just goes to show that pride in your kin can spark pride in others.