Yesterday I joined hundreds of people at Portsmouth Pride, celebrating our differences and accepting diversity. We were united by a common belief that everyone deserves to be treated equally.
It could have been quite a solemn event. Events this week could have dampened the mood considerably. I don't often do this but I would like to dedicate this post to the memory of the 49 who were killed in Orlando earlier this week, to their families and friends, and to everyone else affected by horrendous attacks on the LGBT community around the world.
It was, however, not a solemn event. The day started with music and dance in Guildhall Square, followed by speeches from MPs, councillors and special guests. Before we set off on our parade to Castle Field a moment of silence was held in memory of the victims of the Orlando shooting and also of Jo Cox, an MP murdered this week in her West Yorkshire constituency.
I was at pride with the Scouts. I often speak and write about scouting being inclusive but it is only by acting on the plans for inclusivity we get there. The Scout Association has done so, attending events like this all over the country and have an active support unit (group of adult volunteers who support scouting in their area or interest area) called FLAGS dedicated to supporting LGBT Scouting.
I'm going to open up now - I'm straight. That may come as a surprise to some people but it's true. I think that's why it was so important to me to go yesterday. Pride isn't about the LGBT community standing together - it's about everyone accepting each other. There aren't many times when we can walk through the streets en masse celebrating our diversity.
The parade was only part of the day, followed by an event on Castle Field with more music, fun and a load of stalls. I shan't write too much on the event itself. I spent most of it either sat by the Scout stall (yes - there was a Scout stall!) or catching up with people I haven't seen for a while. Besides, I've already written about 350 words.
I wish to share with you something one of the Scout members at the event said:
Making Scouting available to all is in our DNA and it’s something we're really passionate about. Now we’re more diverse than ever, bridging community divides. And with more than 144,000 girls and women in the Movement today we talk more about Scouting for All than Scouting for Boys. We welcome people into the Movement regardless of social background, gender, sexuality, faith and no faith.
Lead Volunteer, Portsmouth Scouts
I must admit, I only lasted till about 5. When I left there was still six hours of pride to go. Maybe next year I'll last the day, but until then, if you're off to pride somewhere else in the country in the next few weeks enjoy it! (And go say hi to the Scouts if they're there.)