On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending London Pride. This might seem tangential from the general parenting theme of this blog, but I assure you it’s all linked.
My reason for specifically attending this year was that I was invited by Fujitsu. It’s a bit complicated, but essentially they decided this year to attend Pride, where the theme was “Pride Heroes”. Fujitsu’s reasonably new LGBT group (18 months old) decided to use Alan Turing as their Pride Hero, which made perfect sense with Fujitsus former company’s links to the Bombe machine that Turing created. Alan Turing happens to have been my Great Uncle which is a slightly tenuous connection and is really just genetics rather than anything special that I (or my family) have really done. However it’s a really wonderful family link. Alan’s work (as all work at Bletchly Park) during the war was guarded by the official secrets act, and as a consequence people didn’t really know who he was or what he did. Even in 2009 after John Graham Cummings petitioned the government to pardon Alan for his prosecution for being homosexual, it was reported that there were no living relatives. Actually quite a few of us, but that’s another story. It’s been a strange old few years- to go from a situation where it was thought that he had no living relatives, to the film premiere in 2014 which I believe 26 family members attended, to being invited to Gay Pride.
Whilst I appreciate that some members of the family have their own memories of Alan, and that he was mostly a private man who might have found the fanfare of being labelled a hero and having his face paraded through London, to many people he was a hero- both for his amazing work in mathematics, computing and in biology too but also for being famously gay in the 1940s when it was highly illegal. So I was proud to be asked by Fujitsu to attend the march with them, and did so alongside my second cousin Tom. Alan’s legacy has brought bits of the family closer together- Tom lives in the West Country and is a good few years younger than me, so it was a great opportunity to catch up as we don’t get to see each other very often.
I arrived about 11:30 at Fujitsu on Baker Street and was welcomed with colour tshirts, friendly faces and wonderful doughnuts- which was a good thing as I had missed lunch and it was a long, hot day! We had some speeches, took some photographs and then headed off to our position in section E. It was a long way back- though we were next to the Android float which was very noisy and lots of fun- it kept us going for the 3 hours we stood in position before we set off.
I met lots of wonderful people both in the parade and in the crowd. The atmosphere was so positive and engaging, and whilst we were marching a number of times we heard chants of “Alan! Alan!” when the crowd saw out placards. It really was quite skin-tingling and overhwelming at times. Afterwards Fujitsu took us to Champagne Charlies for a well earned drink and some nibbles before we had to set off home.
As a claim to fame on top of this, we made it onto Buzzfeed, Gay Star News, Channel 4 News, The Independent, International Business Times, The Mirror, London Pride’s official Faecbook page, Fujitsu NewsBBC Berkshire Interivew with Sarah Walker, Out in The City magazine, City AM and Days Out In London to name a few media moments!
So why is this relevant to a parenting blog?
I think it’s hugely relevant.It’s about how we see the world and what kind of world we live in. I guess I use the term “world” loosely as there are many places still in which homosexuality is illegal which in the UK just seems so backwards and barbaric. I want my child to grow up in a world in which his gender or sexual preference are not an issue. I’ve mentioned gender at length before when discussing my volunteer work Let Toys Be Toys and I think that a more tolerant society is a very important thing and should not be underestimated. So what if he wears pink or plays with dolls? What’s the “worst” that will happen? I want to encourage him to be a caring, kind and considerate person, regardless of anything else. And playing with dolls or wearing pink won’t make that happen, but I certainly won’t be sending him the message that his choices for play, or clothing are limited based on his sex.
And we’re not just talking really about sexuality, we’re talking about the ability to be different from the perceived “norm” and for it to be ok. For it to be more than ok. I am one of a huge swathe of people that were bullied at school for not being the same as everyone else. And as an adult, I’m proud of the choices that I’ve made and the ability to be myself, but it’s taken a long time to get to this point. Your sexuality isn’t something that you choose, but it is something that you, and others choose to accept, and the more tolerant and understanding we can be of different lifestyles to our own really is key to to where we live being a better and safer place to live.