Pride: NYC, Birmingham & Wolverhampton!

Somewhere over the rainbow? With the skies becoming blue I dare say we can dream further than we first thought that we could? Before my lifetime it wasn't a bunch of roses to be a friend of Dorothy, thankfully nowadays we can celebrate what equality truly means to us, to remember with Pride. So, here goes my best of three! NYC, Birmingham and Wolverhampton, get ready! 

NYC Pride 2012 turned up in May for me to experience my first ever Pride celebration! I had never been to a March before that beautiful sunshine afternoon. Meeting up with friends in New Jersey, we made our way over to Christopher Street in New York City on the PATH to wait for the NYC Pride March to come on through. Pop icon Cyndi Lauper acted as Grand Pride Marshal for the 2012 Pride event, yes girl she was out to have some fun! I had turned up two chances to see Birmingham Pride for myself before I embarked on my Industrial Placement in 2012! I wasn't going to let any work schedule stop me from seeing that Pride parade in Greenwich Village, NYC! I am telling you that I wasn't going anywhere, I stood in my space before the barriers waiting for the parade to begin! No! Honestly, I really did not know what to expect but I knew it would be worth the wait in the heat! New York City Pride 2012 was ready to come out in all of its glory! Oh, I loved it! NYC had a plan for me to execute with a certain rainbow fashion! 

Cydni Lauper opened the parade as we saw her car that brought her closer to Christopher Street, she was looking good but her rainbow flag was dreadfully plastic! Cyndi, really? Drag Queens of all races and styles graced the parade, commanding the pride goers with their beauty I tell you no woman could have looked better! The lavish Pride floats that made floated down Christopher Street possessed colour and creativity, each blasting an iconic Pride anthem for the crowd to practically Vogue to! Flaming Saddles bar made their way through, serving Cowboy realness in a fashion I loved! Could this really be?! I was amongst the beautiful people of NYC for Pride is just like a Gay Christmas falling only once per year. Puerto Rico did it so much better! The Enchanted Island served Boricua Sexy Realness with their booming music and Transgendered ladies all curvy and beautiful! Wepa! I didn't go to 'Dance On The Pier' but the March itself served enough sass and excitement! I saw Manila Luzon and her Drag daughter! NY, I got read! 

I didn't celebrate Pride in 2013 but I vowed to attend at least one Birmingham Pride before I concluded my studies in Birmingham. Something told me that 2o14 would the right time to celebrate my studies and Pride in Birmingham for the first and last time! Through the rain we danced on, being a part of UCB's LGBT Society enabled me to walk in the Parade during the 2014 event. We celebrated and then some but we remembered the true cause of the day, to understand that not everyone in this world has the freedom of being true to who they are. Big name acts performed throughout the two day Bank Holiday May weekend, I viewed the event from a critical point of view. My Dissertation topic lies close to LGBT tourism and the attitudes of Pride. Stooshe and Fuse ODG both played blinding sets. I didn't appreciate the Monsoon! With my time almost up, living in Birmingham for those final few months with Pride on the cards was so very exciting! My dissertation had a Pride theme, I was ready for everything! Go!

Drag means a lot to me, it makes Pride that little bit more camp! The Village Inn Cabaret Marquee turned it up with a top billing line up of class Drag acts. Sandra worked the crowd with her cut throat comedy and side splitting gags that I belly laughed to! 90's pop icon Angie Brown made a comeback with her chart topping single 'I'm Gonna Get You', she was amazing! Security was at the forefront of Birmingham Pride 2014, I had no problem because yes I behaved myself. Manchester duo 'Queens Of Pop' performed their 'Atomic Kitten' themed set at Eden, I especially loved their Girls Aloud tribute to Cheryl and Nadine. The 'Queens Of Pop' may be controversial but they are so funny! My Birmingham chapter has finished now but I'm really happy that I experienced one amazing Pride celebration in Birmingham! Keep on celebrating Southside! To toast my Birmingham experience, I made sure I enjoyed the second night of Birmingham Pride even more! Birmingham's Southside won't be getting rid of me anytime soon!

Wolves? Yes, I made the best of my post-university location! Wolves Pride 2014 came around in late September, I had to know was going on in my home city! No, I'm not going to throw shade on Wolverhampton because she's rising like a phoenix! C'mon! Pride celebrations raise funds for worthy causes so a £5.00 donation was more than OK with me, don't be shady because that's ugly! Wolves Pride served a favourable March with several supporters showing their rainbow Pride, I tell you for Wolverhampton that was inspiring for me to see. In its third year Wolves Pride had the voices of Gay activist Peter Tatchell and Wolverhampton City Council so kudos to you WV! The ethos of the event screamed 'community' whilst for a modern day Pride I was thrilled to see that one event hasn't sold out to the big name acts and Disney like commercialism, let's remember those activists who sparked a Gay Pride Liberation in the 1980's! It wasn't about sponsorship deals, it was about the community! I needed to support my home-city! One time! 

Entertainment was served upon the Main Stage for all to enjoy, I've been missing Birmingham's Gay scene so I couldn't wait for Sandra grace the stage with her scandalous sense of humour along with Drag duo Glitter Lips. Headlining the event was X Factor finalist Lucy Spraggan, she arrived on stage to a rapture of applause and adoration from the audience. Aside from the big names a range of upcoming artists and groups showcased their talent, Little Jack and Vois impressed me much! Drag performer Baga Chipz made an appearance, singing a few tracks with a certain swagger she wasn't too far from her West Midlands hometown. The Voice finalist Jenny Jones performed her heart out, she was amazing on that Wolves Pride 2014 stage! Pride in Wolverhampton was crafted by the hard work of LGBT Network Wolverhampton, in it's third year I know that with continued power of support the event shall prosper ever more! Turning Pride on it's head, I hope one day I can go to Taipei's Formosa Pride! So, get me to China first! 

Let's Have Some Pride! 

Joseph Harrison 


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