I participated in my first Pride March today. I've watched previously, but never marched. It was an amazing experience, but felt a little strange.
Background; my partner is working for a Greens senator here in Perth. In Perth, a number of local members or people within the Greens party are queer. It's a really open, warm environment where everyone are keen to get to know you and they support the local community in a big way (everything from the free photocopying to having senators turn up to events even when there is no election coming up... shock, horror!). The queer greens members, as well as their friends, were all marching in a Greens group.
I was always keen to come down and watch the march, and I ended up in the office helping out during the day preparing banners etc. When people started asking if we would march, I automatically said no, I wanted to take some photos of the whole march. As person after person asked, I realised that they were taking offense to me saying I wouldn't take part. For me, it was a case of not wanting to march and hijack a cause I'm not part of; I've never been discriminated against because of my sexuality. For these people however, I felt like they were hearing me say I didn't want to be associated with their cause, that either I didn't want to be seen as queer, or I didn't want people to see me there. I was horrified that they would think that, and as a consequence decided I would love to support the people I had begun to get to know since arriving here and march with them.
When I had to go home late afternoon and have a nap (how much of a three year old am I??!!) I was scared that I wouldn't be able to get up and participate later, but it's amazing how much the cold affects me here. It was raining and really windy, so my whole body seized up and I felt the usual wave of fatigue. It must have been my lucky day because after an hour with my heatbags and putting on a few extra layers (seriously, I had on three shirts, on thermal and a jacket) I actually went out into the cold and marched.
It was a strange experience, given how 'straight' everyone except the Greens people I've met here have been. I've met some pretty sexist/homophobic/racist people. Not in some, crazy, ready to bash everyone kind of way, just in their general attitude. It's like they really haven't met anyone who is gay, or doesn't conform to gender-norm stereotypes. Seeing so many people take to the streets literally screaming their support at a Pride March was amazing. It wasn't a queer event, it was a community event, and I really hadn't been expecting that. So anyway, a great experience.