Darren Grimes is a political commentator and is content creator at Reasoned UK.
Last year marked half a century since the protest in retaliation against a threatening police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York. It began a new era of defiance in the campaign to secure equal rights for gay men and women, playing a part in a global movement that eventually culminated in the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
So maybe a ‘Pride Month’ to mark the event last year was justifiable. But is an entire month necessary every year?
There are some good arguments to have a ‘Pride Day’ to celebrate and commemorate the UK’s achievements in overcoming the criminalisation of homosexuality and the lack of protections for trans men and women. And to help us stand in solidarity with people in other countries where it’s still illegal and life-threatening to be gay.
But to dedicate a whole month to this seems to debase the value of such well-intentioned acts, particularly when the month seems more grounded in virtue-signalling and the criticism of others than genuine feelings of celebration, commemoration and solidarity.
On Monday, the Conservative Party changed its profile picture across its social media channels, stripping the light blue oak tree logo, which until 2017 proudly boasted the Union Jack, and instead bedazzling it in the colours of the rainbow. The Party justifies this by arguing in a post on its website that: “Freedom lies at the heart of our Party’s values and we will always stand up for the rights of LGBT people to live and love without fear.”
I find it utterly depressing that the pride flag now takes pride of place in our national life over our own national flag. Our national flag is sneered at with Emily Thornberry levels of derision, but what, might I ask, could stand for the values of freedom and of the Conservative and Unionist Party better than the Union Jack? Our common flag, representing our common direction and identity – one that internationally boasts a pro-freedom message.
The Union Jack groups together all four constituent parts of the world’s most successful political and economic union a hell of a lot better than the artificial union of the ‘LGBT community’, which does not exist. Being gay is an incredibly unreliable characteristic on which to try and build an individual identity, never mind trying to group the four (and increasingly more) together as a so-called community. Yet still politicians speak of ‘LGBT Plus’, as though we’re one religious grouping that gather each week around some sacred text.
It isn’t just the Conservative Party splashing the cash on a rainbow update – the ‘woke capital’ commercialisation of it all is increasingly obvious, with it being very easy for big corporations to whack a pride flag everywhere – but being woke is an expensive business as far as government is concerned, too. According to the Taxpayers’ Alliance, Whitehall departments often abuse taxpayer cash in pursuit of appealing to identity politics.
Whitehall departments have spent more than £65,000 installing gender-neutral toilets, and purchasing LGBTQ lanyards, stationery and flags. The Cabinet Office and 10 Downing Street own four pride flags, compared to only three St. George’s flags: in a world in which identity is king, who cares about England’s national identity?
The cost per LGBT+ lanyard from the departments who responded ranged from £3.53 to £0.49. However, a plain lanyard costs from as little as £0.13. I wonder how much all of the diversity training and the social media videos for each department during ‘pride month’ will cost the taxpayer too?
In the end, was the Conservative Party thanked for its unabashed support of this entire month of pride at the altar of the rainbow mob? No, no. Of course not. Shortly after throwing the rainbow mob a bit of meat, ‘Section 28’ was trending on Twitter to bash the Party’s efforts. Deliberately ignoring David Cameron’s support of same-sex marriage, the final frontier in gay equality.
I hope that one positive outcome of our dalliance with a potentially fatal virus that has shuttered much of our economy and seen us all squirrel ourselves away indoors will be a rejection of the fake culture wars. In which arguments over gender neutral bathrooms and changing rooms are deemed less important than issues that are higher on the electorate’s agenda like debt, growth and jobs for the next generation.
After all, what ‘LGBT+’ battles are left to be fought? Same-sex marriage is secured and attitudes are catching up with it. And as trans woman Dr Debbie Hayton writes: “It’s true that trans rights are human rights, but those rights are already protected. It is illegal to harass me or treat me less favourably on the grounds of my gender reassignment – and rightly so.” So what battles are left that justify a Pride Month? Are we not free until we can walk around the streets in puppy fetish gear without raising eyebrows?
Saying all of this will see me attacked by UK’s legacy gay press such as Pink News. To argue that my sexuality does not define me and that I am not oppressed is an act of heresy – despite the fact that our sexuality is the least interesting thing about us. Indeed, the fight for gay liberation was in large part about recognising this. You didn’t choose to be gay, you didn’t achieve being gay – and society not caring about you being so is cause to celebrate.
A prominent case of being cancelled for holding such views was when the co-founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, addressed the Republican National Convention in 2016 – hardly a crowd known historically for being A-OK with gay men and women.
Thiel told the Convention that: “I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all, I am proud to be an American.” The crowd’s response? A standing ovation! This should have been seen as cause for celebration of the breakneck speed at which attitudes towards gay men and women have changed, but no, Thiel was instead denounced as “not a gay man” by The Advocate magazine.
If the legacy gay press spent half as much time attacking the medieval practices of those who murder and hound gay men and women in countries around the world as they do those gay men and women that they disagree with in democracies like ours, who knows what they could achieve?
At the end of the day, being gay in 2020 is ok. We are no longer oppressed by the law and are accepted by the vast majority of wider society. We should hold on to that and reject a month of self-indulgence and narcissism: these groups should be ignored in their attempts to find oppression where little exists. We don’t need a ‘Pride month’. We don’t need your taxpayer-funded lanyards and flags. Perhaps if Whitehall and our politicians could find as much pride in the Union Jack as they do in waving the Pride flag, Boris Johnson’s levelling-up agenda would be a much easier task.