I attend Pride every year because if I did not care enough about my rights or even my life (sometimes literally) to walk out onto the street and march for them, then I would not be deserving of them.
I attend Pride in the name of those who cannot be there and are not among us because, as a society, we have stepped out on the street a bit too late and hatred caught up to them before they could live to see equality.
‘Activist’ has almost been turned into a dirty word, however, for me, activism is necessary on every level. If you see someone throwing their cigarette butt on the street instead of in a bin, reprimand them for it. That is activism.
If someone who does not have a disability takes up a disabled parking space, reprimand them for it. That is also activism.
Activism is shaping your own life instead of letting it become a result of someone else’s actions. You may not always have the ability to do that regarding everything, but showing up to Pride, saying ‘I exist,’ you can at least do that.
If you think there is no need to attend because no one has beaten you up because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, I have three things to tell you: I have not been physically attacked for being pansexual. However, I would like to be assured legally, that if those half-witted, dysfunctional skinheads try anything, the fact that they would be motivated to do so because of my sexual orientation, that would be considered a worse offence when prosecuting them. The same applies if I was part of a different religion or ethnic group. It is a hate crime. When my partner and I get married, if they were to end up hospitalized, I would like to be the one who gets updated on their condition, making decisions on their behalf. Because I know what they would want. Only parents and spouses have those rights. Based on the current situation, I could spend my whole life with this person, build a home with them and one horrible day they could get hit by a car and the doctors would not be obliged to tell me anything. Or not being able to fulfil the dying wish of the person beside me. If we decide to have children, it would be my biological child. If I died, the child would be sent to a foster home, instead of to their parent whom they know and love. You know what foster homes are like. If we decide to adopt, we would not be able to do it as a couple, rather one of us would be their legal guardian. And again, the child would go back to the foster home out of which we had rescued them, with so much love and desire.
I was at the first Pride parade in 2008, on the frontline, when a Molotov was thrown meters away from me, I was on the first page of ’24 Hours’ the next morning. And I am telling you from a personal point of view, there is nothing scary about attending.
Things have changed drastically between the first Pride and the 10th last year. Our society understands and accepts the LGBTI community of lot more and we understand each other as well, within the community. Since those 100 people in 2008, we reached 3000 in 2017. And how many more of us there could be!
I am writing this on the day the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled in favor of making EU countries allow residence permits for all spouses, including same-sex couples. Pride parades are the reason for such positive judgments: by giving crucial visibility to LGBTI people. Pride shows us that our rights are not, but can and will be equal.