I remember the time when London Pride was the highlight of my summer, especially the two years it came to Clapham. What better way to have fun than spending the day in the park with mates, getting drunk, going on the funfair, seeing bands on the stage, dancing like and idiot and generally marvelling at the diversity of 200,000 gays and lesbians partying together without a care in the world.
London has changed so much in that time, getting so much more liberal, to the extent that I just don’t feel the need to go to London Pride any more, it just feels a bit pointless now that no-one cares if you’re gay anymore, and the party itsself just feels a bit like a retreat back into the ghetto. Although I must admit I think it may be more that I’ve changed more, and it’s just the idea of several hours of unbridled hedonism in the streets of Soho surrounded by people half my age has for some reason lost its appeal.
But despite all that I’ve kept going to Brighton Pride – it’s nice to get out of the city and head down to the coast (even if that bit of the coast is just London-on-sea), the party is still in the park, and it just seems so much more friendly and laidback compared to the insanity of the London one. So as usual, I travelled down with mates for the weekend, and do you know what? I hated it. Far too many people, too much noise, too many queues for absolutely everything – and ended up leaving the park after an hour to head back into town and found myself a nice straight pub to settle down in for the evening to avoid the mayhem going on around me. As I sat there, it suddenly dawned on me that the problem was clearly not Pride, but me: I’m getting too old for this sort of thing.
I have no idea how that crept up on me – it’s only a couple of months ago that I was enjoying myself in far bigger crowds at Glastonbury – but I discussed it with friends and they all agreed with me. And pointed out other symptoms I hadn’t considered. Drinking real ale instead of lager? Old. Choosing weekends walking in the countryside rather than getting pissed in London? Old. Finding myself agreeing with Tory politicians sometimes? Old (and scary).*
The whole thing made me want to go and do something crazy in attempt to fend off the ageing process. And then I realised I will be: I’m quitting my job to head round the world for a year, with nothing to come back to. Which made me feel a whole lot better.
*the alternative explanation for all of these symptoms would have been even scarier: I’m finally turning straight.