Recently, I had been looking back through my archive at the photos I took at the start of the Pride parade in London in 2004. It was such a wonderful morning. Everyone was in such high spirits and so open to having their photographs taken.
In light of the terrible news coming out of Orlando today, I have decided to publish a photography from my Pride archive every day this week. I know it’s not much, in the face of the senseless tragedy that has occurred there, but I just want to do something to counteract the hatred that can exist in the world.
Throughout the ages, gay people have been a very easy target for hateful ideologies. Fortunately, in the UK, attitudes have improved so much in my lifetime. As a teenager, feeling so scared of being different and having no positive role models to look up to, I did everything I could to deny the feelings that were taking place inside me.
I never imagined that, one day in the future, I would be able to marry a man. At that time, I didn’t even believe I could have any kind of relationship with another man, even in a clandestine way. It just seemed too scary, too fraught with danger.
I have now been married to my beautiful, kind husband for six years. They have been the best years of my life. He is my soulmate, my best friend, my rock. We have bought a home together. We are very much part of each other’s families. My niece and nephew do not see our marriage any differently to that of their parents. They understand that it is about love, nothing more. And, for me, all of those things have helped me feel, finally – after many decades – whole as a person.
I know many people struggle with the concept of same-sex marriage and I am not unsympathetic to that. It’s been an enormous change in society and many people – for religious or non-religious reasons – are perhaps struggling to cope with the speed at which society is changing. But, ultimately, if societies continue to find reasons to deny the love of two adults – whether it is because they are the same sex, from different races, or because one is rich and one is poor – the outcome is never good. Today’s event – whatever the motivation for it – is very extreme. But, I believe, all such events ultimately result from societies saying that some people’s love is worth less than others. That some love is worthless.
I know it is an impossible dream to hope that the world can one day be free of hate. But, I do wish that humans could learn to love a little more, and hate a little less. And, most importantly, not to be so afraid of love, however it manifests itself.