I was invited by some close friends to accompany them on the Gay Pride Parade in Truro, Cornwall, UK.
I remember that my immediate response at the time was ‘what date is it on?’, and when I found I was not busy on the day, of course I accepted the invitation – I don’t deny I was flattered to be asked.
I suppose that I never really realised the extent to which the gay community is not accepted; the extent to which the presence of straight people on the parade might be symbolically important.
I took my camera, and after a bit I started looking out for disapproving faces in the crowd to photograph – and there were a few! There were also a few spectacular extroverts to shoot; but by and large what was the most revealing aspect of the parade was that most of the participants were, very obviously, ‘just plain folk’. There were many colourful and explicit T-shirts, numerous rainbow-coloured neckerchiefs, bandanas, wrist-bands and the like, and the behaviour of the whole parade was responsible, good-humoured and positive. So why, I found myself wondering, is so much fuss made? Why do some people find this particular minority so hard to take? Because when you get up close and personal, they are all so blasted normal!
I admit to having a very entrenched prejudice, and it is against bigotry. I am afraid that in Cornwall we are guilty of being a little slow to accept that members of minority groups, whether by race or by sexual orientation, are in all important respects equal to the rest of us and deserving of an equal amount of respect.
But today in Truro I believe we may have moved a little further down that road towards civilisation!