Saturday July 2nd 2011.
Waking up at 6:30AM has never been this painless for me. Perhaps it was the excitement, perhaps it was the anticipation, or perhaps it was just the fact that I still had not gotten over my jetlag.
I had now been in London a full week; a much needed vacation which came together so perfectly, after all the planning that went into being a part of the London Pride. My luck seemed too good to be true, and finally the day was here.
The excitement was still abuzz as I was spending the most ideal morning of my life. This constituted cooking eggs for three of my closest friends who I’ve known for over a decade. And in just a few hours, they would be standing by me sharing a holy gay holiday with the ones I love the most.
It’s AJ on the phone; he’s doing his make up and prepping for his big day, which he was so excitedly sharing with me. AJ is the older brother of my friend and an older brother to me. Or shall I say older sister? I’ve always been very close to my friend and her family, but it took coming out at the age of 23, to know why life had brought me to that family. AJ paved the way for me. When I came out to my friend, her only reassuring words to me were “YAY!!! AJ IS GAY TOO. WE’RE A GAY FAMILY.” A few years down the line, AJ had found JK and they had the wedding of their dreams in London. Their family was/is very accepting and their mother welcomed me with open arms when I came out.
We’re walking to brunch and everything looks like a standard London day. Except maybe for the sunshine and warm weather. I look around wondering why everyone is acting like it’s just another Saturday, when in just a few hours, London is about to explode in gayness. That’s when the first flag appeared. It was the only one in the crowd at the time, and in my eyes it shone like Elton John’s sexuality.
At the restaurant, I finally meet JK. The infamous JK. I’ve only ever heard about and seen pictures of AJ and JK’s wedding, I’ve never met JK. Here I was sitting at brunch, just staring at the two of them, in complete awe. Here are two fabulous looking gay men, who have found each other, and gotten married. Perhaps it’s an over reaction, but knowing this was the boy who drove us around when we were 13, who’s had so many girlfriends, then came out and confronted his family about being gay, whose family has received anonymous letters with threats for him being gay, and who has gone on to build the life that the straight think is impossible, is a little exciting for me. I embrace AJ and JK at the table and pretend to be composed.
Massive amounts of wine later, we make our way to Trafalgar Square to watch the parade. Being witness to pride in Chicago, New York, Mumbai and Oslo, this was an experience unlike any other.
Being born a gay baby monster has always been a war in my head, especially having come out when I lived in America. When it comes to India, I’ve never known or heard of anything being truly EQUAL, may it be equality with regard to sexuality, equality of marriage, equality of medical rights, equality of serving in the army, or the equality of just being legal.
The difference between homosexuality in London and many other European countries, versus being gay in America (for that’s the perspective I know best), is that Pride in America is always about civil rights issues. Every year, ex-army men, who’ve been dismissed from the army put on their suits and march down the streets as a symbol of the injustice they face for being a gay man in the army. The banners and slogans you hear from gays demanding equality are not only funny but also heartfelt. The conversations at bars about the lack of support from President Obama for the LGBTQ community and the arguments I’ve had with marines and ex-marines always make for a good story. The inability of gays to adopt or to stand by his/her partner in the hospital because they are not recognized as family is always unacceptable. Homosexuality is a war and the war is never ending. Or so I thought…
For the first time, I was in a city where no one had anything to complain about, well mostly. They have the legality of civil union along with which comes the right to medical recognition of someone being family, regardless of sexuality. For once, I was in a place where Pride was actually about being proud. Imagine my surprise, for I never thought I would be privy to what it meant to be free. I spent Pride as I always do, arguing about gay rights. But this time around, I didn’t know what to argue about. Gays and lesbians are allowed to be together as legal partners, serve in the army, adopt, and be gay in every nook and corner of London and discrimination is not permitted.
Celebrating pride as a proud lesbian has never been more jarring. I felt the need to argue about rights, but they already have all the rights they could ever want. Howfuckinglucky was my sentiment exactly. Without arguments to make and rights to fight for, I decided to meet people instead. The number of engaged and couples in civil partnerships I met baffled me. As the lesbian who wishes to have a marriage and babies, I cried every time I heard the stories.
In my eyes, being gay is about fighting a war of love. We try every single day to prove to the world that regardless of our sexual preference, all we want is the freedom, acceptance and ability to love.
Dear London, thank you for showing me that one day the world will accept this to the fullest. You gave me the hope I thought I was losing and for that I shall return next year in all my gayness.
Truth be told, it wasn’t Pride in London that opened my eyes to the freedom of homosexuality in England, but two other things. The first was an ad in the London subway that said ‘LESBIAN’ in bright pink letters. I obviously took a picture of myself in front of it. And the second was a huge hoarding inside a police station stating ‘Prevent hate crimes; gays are us’ in rainbow colors. Not only do they have the rights, but they also enforce the laws that preserve it.
For the all the years I thought you were straight, I always felt close to you. Now I know we share a special connection. Thank you for the being the one person I could talk to when coming out to my closest of friends seemed like the hardest thing to do. And thank you for putting me in touch with your gay mafia. Thank you for being the example that parents will love us no matter what. I only hope that one day my parents will be as accepting and as big warriors as yours are.
To AJ and JK,
Thank you for showing me that I too can have what you have. One day you will be dancing at my lame lesbian wedding.