On Saturday 29th July 2017 Nottingham Young Quakers marched together in the Nottinghamshire Pride Parade 2017. This was a great opportunity for minority orientation, gender identity and intersex (MOGII) NYQs and their allies to celebrate the progress that has been made towards acceptance and legal equality for MOGII people in the UK* and show solidarity with those around the world who still suffer discrimination, persecution or worse because of who they are.
We arrived well-equipped for the celebrations, with placards, ‘Queer and Quaker’ themed clothing, rainbow face paint, various pride flags, a bubble machine and temporary tattoos of the official Quaker Pride Q (shout-out to to Nikolas Dadson for making the Pride Q a reality)!
I had designed the clothing and badges in consultation with other NYQs to include the colours of various pride flags (a fairly comprehensive guide can be found here)**. We chose to use the ‘more color more pride’ rainbow to show our appreciation for the queer people of colour who were at the forefront of the original pride movement and our solidarity with those who continue to experience racism within the queer community today. These designs were sold through a print-to-order website and the £34 profit I made from selling these products to NYQs (including myself!) will be donated to ReachOUT Leeds, a support charity for LGBT+ refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. It is hoped that in the future I will be able to make these designs available to other queer-identifying Quakers.
The weather was warm and the atmosphere was friendly. Indeed, I must have been giving off some kind of particularly friendly and helpful vibe because as we were forming up I was approached by a complete stranger asking if they could borrow my pansexual pride flag for a performance they were doing at the end of the parade! Of course I agreed, and near the end of the march I split off from the rest of the NYQs to make my way to the stage.
The person I spoke to turned out to be part of a group called Nottingham BiTopia (Facebook, Twitter) who were giving a performance entitled ‘The Bisexuality Briefing’. Unfortunately I can find no recordings of the performance online, but the key focus was on debunking many of the myths surrounding bisexuality and people who are bisexual or otherwise don’t fit neatly into the gay/straight dichotomy. If you’d like to know more, the GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) website has an article addressing some of the myths to get you started. They also spoke about bi erasure, which Wikipedia says “is the tendency to ignore, remove, falsify, or reexplain evidence of bisexuality in history, academia, the news media, and other primary sources.” This would include, for example, referring to the event we attended as gay pride, since that ignores the fact that many people there identified as bi/pansexual.
As I was waiting to collect my flag I was approached by the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, who started talking to me about the history of Quakers in Nottingham! At this point I had forgotten that I had the word QUAKER both emblazoned across my t-shirt and stuck to my face, so I was quite at a loss as to how he knew I was a Quaker! I did my best to make small talk (not my forte!) and then excused myself to join the rest of the NYQs at Wagamama.
It wouldn’t be an NYQ event without food, after all!
*It is worth noting that same-sex couples still cannot marry in Northern Ireland and different-sex couples still cannot form Civil Partnerships anywhere in the UK, although there is an active campaign seeking to challenge this.
**To the best of my knowledge, the NYQs attending pride included people who identified as gay, lesbian, pansexual, transgender, genderqueer and demisexual, although there may have been other groups represented as well!