On Saturday 6th July 2019 the global Pride movement celebrated its 50th anniversary in spectacular fashion. By the end of the night the internet was awash with photos and videos displaying vibrant colours and happy faces. While, during the day, streets around the world were full of happy people communally supporting equality for all.
My Saturday started with a 7am wake up. This was in order to get to work at BBC Broadcasting House for 10am, as I had to set up a Yamaha S6 piano. Little did I know, the city was preparing for one hell of a party.
Walking from the Euston Road down, to Portland Place (thanks ULEZ charge), I was taken aback by all the preparations. People were readying floats, stewards were setting up barriers and shops were preparing street vending points. I felt the buzz of a Notting Hill Carnival but with the spectacular glitz of Pride. One thing was for sure: attendance was a must.
However, a dilemma faced me: no one was around to go with. My friends and partner were all otherwise engaged.
Anyway, during the walk back to my car, after finishing my job at 11am, the buzz around the streets was growing. So much so that it became intoxicating. Tourists were arriving at tube stations by the bucket load. Locals were readying supplies for the festivities which lay ahead. Dogs were being walked with multicoloured outfits. Bars were blasting music into the streets. The vibe was that of a festival and my mind had been made up. I was attending… on my own.
Cue One of The Best Experiences of My Life
Will people see me as some awkwardly lonely old man to be avoided like the bubonic plague? Is it still socially acceptable to attend social events without company? What if I end up feeling anxious and have a panic attack? These are the sorts of questions which flooded my mind. However, they were all unfounded. As you would expect.
From the second I exited the Warren Street tube station and began descending onto Soho it was evident just how wrong my doubts were. Every gaze which met that of my own was accompanied by a warming smile, while conversing with fellow attendees was effortless.
By the time it was 2pm I was in the middle of a street party, just off Frith Street in Soho, drifting between social groups like a half cut butterfly. At this point the festival had gotten into full swing and the streets were bursting at the seams.
There were scantily clad blokes giving pole dancers a run for their money, drag queens putting on a performance for anyone who would watch and everyone, regardless of gender, feeling comfortable enough to walk around in whatever they fancied. Without fear of being made to feel bad in anyway, shape or form.
Needless to say, the doubts I had prior to attending were completely blown out of the water. During my time at Pride 2019 I actually spent more talking to and meeting people than at any other event in my life. I even got invited to an after party.
Something To Think About
Regardless, the point is that Pride 2019 was a real eye opener for me. In this evermore connected world we all tend to forget that we are actually individuals, and that we do not need to be accompanied to social events. Nor does attending solo result in people thinking you’re some sad loner. Quite the opposite.
Of all the people I spoke to at London Pride 2019, not a single one so much as batted an eyelid at my solo venture. In fact, most people, male and female alike, expressed that they wished they “had the confidence” to do the same, and that they respected people who do.
Attending Pride on my own enabled me to truly discover just how sociable I am as a person. It enabled me to really enjoy the company of strangers and immerse myself in the general vibe of the event.
By removing the shackles of needing to accommodate for someone else, and the security blanket of having a friend to fallback on, you will surprise yourself. Give it a try sometime.
Love, peace and happiness.