The other day I watched a Sky News report on the preparations for the upcoming Pride parade.
The camera panned as if on crystal meth, while London was being turned into a megalomaniac version of the Weimar Republic with a touch of a Nuremberg rally thrown in. Neither the reporter nor the presenter could contain their rapture.
I’ve probably never seen, and definitely never experienced, so much unbridled joy. The two women were laughing, gasping, jumping – exulting. The BBC radio broadcast on 8 May, 1945, was before my time, but I’m sure the victory announcement had to be more restrained and less triumphant.
Floats were getting a trial run, rainbow flags and Take Pride posters were flying everywhere, and the two Sky women helpfully informed us that this was the 50th anniversary of the event. I was bracing myself for them to squeal “Happy anniversary!!!” or else sing “Happy birthday”, but they managed to desist, if not without some effort.
Will the police be in attendance? asked the presenter. Yes, acknowledged the reporter, they will be. But in civilian clothes, of course, because those prideful multitudes may see police uniforms as a symbol of oppression.
How wrong she was. When the great spectacle engulfed central London yesterday, a fully uniformed police unit marched in step with the prideful ones, with nary a demur. An army platoon followed, marching in their inimitable style, arms swinging, boots beating the tattoo on the tarmac.
Speaking of tattoos, there were millions of them on offer, drowned in the sea of gaudy costume jewellery, face paint, glitter and sequins. One tattoo was exhibited by the Labour Deputy Leader Angel Rayner who marched hand in hand with her boss Sir Keir Starmer (a socialist knight of the realm is a bit oxymoronic, don’t you think?).
Angie established her hetero credentials early, when she got pregnant at 16, had to leave school and eventually became, at 37, the youngest grandmother ever to sit in the mother of all parliaments. And, as far as I know, Sir Keir’s enthusiasm for the LGBTQ+ cause is also disinterested and so much the purer for it. But the duo feel duty-bound to express solidarity with any subversive cause going, and this one is as subversive as they come.
The event was billed as “the biggest and most inclusive in history”, but the guru of British homosexuality, Peter Tatchell, is disappointed. The parade, he complains, has become “too corporate and commercial” and not political enough.
Now I have some history with Mr Tatchell. Some 11 years ago, I wrote a piece in The Mail about Boris Johnson, then London mayor, allowing homosexual advertising on buses but banning a Christian response in the same medium. Fair should be fair, I wrote, using the word ‘aberration’ in the process, but strictly in the dictionary sense of a deviation from the norm.
Tatchell was aghast. He immediately published my photograph, along with contact details, in his paper PinkNews, inviting his readers to express their feelings. As a result, I received hundreds of abusive e-mails, some containing death threats.
So yes, he is right. Homosexuality is no longer a perversion, and not even just a perfectly legitimate choice of a lifestyle (dread word). It has become, like everything else nowadays, a political issue.
If Mr Tatchell wishes to make it even more political, that’s his privilege. I still find something odd, however, about a man whose chosen form of political self-expression is buggering another man. Yet I realise I’m hopelessly behind the times there.
That’s why, I suppose, I also struggle with this movement calling itself ‘Pride’. I just don’t get it. How can anyone be proud about the type of sexual intercourse that gets him through the night or, in this case, through Hampstead Heath?
My classically educated friends tell me that the Ancient Greeks had two words for pride, but the one that applies here has come down to us as ‘hubris’. Its meaning in ancient times changed depending on the context, but in legalese it meant assault or sexual crimes.
Is that what those marchers mean by pride? I doubt it, but perhaps they should. Sexual assault on public morality and decency seems to describe the 50 years of these abominations accurately. I doubt our civilisation can withstand another 50 years without collapsing in on itself.
Now we are in the classical mode, Ovid wrote: Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis. Times change, and we change with them.
Some 60 years ago, the American comedian Lenny Bruce got in trouble for telling this joke: “A boy asks his father, ‘Daddy, what’s a degenerate?’ ‘Never you mind and keep sucking’.” Lenny was arrested for obscenity. Today, the same joke would get him arrested for homophobia.