I suppose I should have been part of the LGBT scene rather longer than I have. I occasionally go to meetups of the Birmingham LGBT Meetup and have met some people I really like. But I never had time to go that often. Their main event is Coffee and Cake on a Saturday afternoon, and on Saturday afternoons I often have other things to do, like supporting West Bromwich Albion. And when I say that if I had the choice between going to a Baggies game and having lunch with Victoria Broom, I would mostly choose the match you will see where I am coming from on this one.
It was last August that I read the winning entries in the annual competition run by When Saturday Comes for new writers. One of these was a really excellent piece about he LGBT Albion supporter’s group, the Proud Baggies. So I signed up. A few days later I met Sarah Robinson, the author of the piece, for a prematch coffee in Starbucks, having taken the precaution of wearing my new rainbow Docs so that she could recognise me. She did. And Albion beat Mansfield (just about) This was then a good evening.
Over the following months I met several other members of the group and was made to feel really welcome. Yesterday I attended my first Birmingham Pride and paraded with the Proud baggies. We sang, we chanted, we exchanged banter with Villa fans among the spectators (good natured by the way). We finished up at the Eden Bar with drinks. I was buzzing at the end.
But this was mainly for reasons unconnected with the Proud Baggies. As many of you reading this will know, there have been demonstrations and boycotts at some Birmingham schools over the No Outsiders programme which, as Carrie Lyell DIVA editor, cuttingly put it, exposes children to the shocking idea that “LGBTQI people are not radioactive waste.”
Pride’s answer to the bigots was to invite two queer Muslims to lead the procession and to get the programme’s initiator Andrew Moffatt, to make a powerful speech before the Parade moved off.
As we walked through Birmingham city centre I was struck too by the immense support and goodwill of ordinary Brummies. We hear a lot these days about the rise of the Far Right and the threat to LGBT rights, women’s rights and so on, but I dare to hope after yesterday that the bigots will not win.
My first Pride was huge fun but, and this is something Pride has been accused of no longer being, political. And this combination suits me fine,