While the Pride Parade is a succession of rainbow flags and Stonewall as an organisation focus on gay/lesbian rights, the origin of both was the Stonewall riots. A quick history lesson can be easily googled, but the rioters were mostly trans women and drag queens, and there are four letters in LGBT (and that still doesn’t cover everyone).
Torn between wanting to celebrate the successes and not wanting to stand in a parade where that isn’t really recognised and diversity is sorely lacking, I went to an event called Queer Picnic in Burgess Park in Southwark.
“Can you say that word?” I hear you gasp. Yes, for one thing it applies to me. It’s also becoming a more and more acceptable umbrella word for those who are comfortable using it, as used in the word genderqueer, the phrase Gender Studies and it’s use in LGBTQ. It’s also used more politically, in a way that can be summed up by the t shirt slogan “Not gay as in happy, queer as in fuck you”.
With activism banners and a deliberate effort to encourage diversity, the Queer Picnic was exactly what I wanted. It was publicised as a space for people of colour and trans people of all genders, and as including alcohol-free areas and food-and-drink-free areas for those fasting. The accessibility of the area was also noted, and various helper dogs, wheelchairs and crutches were visible, with disability and medication discussions casually had.
As for the picnic aspect, food was shared and people went from group to group, reading name tags and swapping contact details. Having been to the official Pride Parade last year and spoken only with my own friends all day, it was an event with much more of a community feeling for me.
If you went to the Queer Picnic, I hope you had as good experience as I did; you might have seen me, I was wearing a rainbow flag as a cape. If you didn’t, I’ll definitely be going back next year and I would definitely recommend it!