Ginger Talks Pride

Pride: “A feeling of satisfaction, derived from one's own achievements or the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated”
Ginger Slice
June 25, 2023

Expressing satisfaction and a sense of pride about my own achievements just isn’t very British, is it? Even writing the words down makes me bristle, revelling in the accomplishments of the larger LGBTQ+ community and my friends is much easier to do, and as this is Pride Month, there is a lot for me to be proud of. I see acts of bravery every day, both near and far, online and in real life, and as an outspoken, visible part of my community with a voice, experience and tenacity I can by association, feel good about my own footprint in a larger story, yet I still feel myself trying to side-step directly admitting to any personal pride, it’s like trying to dodge a searching torch light darting across a wall behind me. I wonder why we do that? The truth is as I approach forty-two years of age, I find myself less concerned about behavioural conventions than ever. I really can’t help but beam aloud as I think back on all that I’ve seen and done on my Drag journey (so far) and how it fits into my bigger life-long queer adventure, and into the journeys of all those who inspire me greatly, so if I may be so bold, I’d like to talk on all that.

Today, the decorating committee at my head office spent hours blowing up an archway of rainbow balloons and unpacking numerous flags to decorate the office. What I loved was that this wasn’t to “Rainbow Wash” our company social media channels. A younger member of our team who recently came out as non-binary has hosted several queer history quizzes over the last couple of weeks, which have been both informative and fun. I’m embarrassed to say they have taught me a thing or two about my own culture and they have also officially become my hero.

There has also been a cake baking charity event, and I happily contributed my very special Custard Loaf Cake. My other contribution to visibility, continued exposure and desensitisation has simply been to wear a pair of my more eccentric Ginger Slice footwear in the office each week this month, to ‘normalise’ the fact that the shoes don’t make the man, or the woman, but more importantly - the person, otherwise going about my business as usual, proving that this is completely possible and that there is nothing to be afraid of. Saying that, even I wobbled (not in the shoes!) as I contemplated that by spending the day in the office in huge chunky red velvet platform boots, I might be committing ‘professional suicide’ but then in a moment that passed so quickly I did wonder if I’d dreamt it, a co-worker who I was largely unaware of and hadn’t really spoken to passed me on the stairs and with the slightest of eye contact quipped: “Thank you for doing what your do".

Ginger Slice's Bots

York Pride On The Park 2023 was bigger and more colourful than previous years, with added focus on community stages, allowing many more queer artists from the city to perform and to be seen. There was also a noticeable shift in type of stalls featured this year, with everything from inclusive rugby to support charities for homeless teens, rather than branded business tents chasing the pink pound, and I can tell you I could feel the difference. Many Pride After-Parties went on well into the night, long after I gave up somewhere around 6:15pm, after hosting my own little Pre-Pride Brunch at a cocktail bar, with party games like pass the parcel - and some lovely nibbles. A stint at the park in the stunning sunshine followed, standing proudly beside a colourful pullup banner supporting The Robynne & Ginger Show at Jorvik Radio. It still lights up my face to think that eight months in, we have listeners all over the U.K. tuning in to listen to our chatter.

Wandering around the park, I managed to catch my friend Miss Diagnosis do their set on the main stage, only hours after they won a drag competition the night before. (Did they get to bed? Who knows?) The highlight of the competition on the Friday night was the sheer quality of all the different types of performers, so varied and skilful. I must say the most exciting part of Miss D’s routine was when ‘Ginger Slice Junior’ opened the show. They do say imitation is the biggest form of flattery, saying that, I didn’t expect it to come in the form of a hand puppet, but how could I fail to be impressed, after all “everyone loves puppets!”

The weekend must have been a blur for them, jumping from performances to celebrations and back again, concluding with an informal boat trip held for all the organisers on Sunday evening with a few of us including Miss D set to attend, to entertain and have a boogie. Twenty minutes after the boat set sail the group chat received a message simply stating: “In bed, I’m dead, my knees are destroyed, enjoy!” who can blame them?

What made Pride for me was that despite the news stories and supposed “push-back” on Drag, countless parents with young children asked if they could take their photo with me. I felt like a cos-play character at Disneyland, the kids beaming and excited by my rainbow coat and glittery trousers. What this demonstrated to me was that despite the sensational headlines, what is happening on the ground is that people want to stand beside and support the right to be different and want to do their part even if that’s sharing a photo which says: ‘This is fine.’ What is also important is to be visible to those awkward, spotty, queer teenagers, which I was once myself - and show them that a future self is possible, because all too many of them lose hope.

Outside the relative safety of York, I sense that the larger Queer community across the world is preparing for battle. Since the Stonewall Riots in June of 1969, the world has turned. The event set in motion the Gay Rights Movement, which in turn led to the creation of pride events and LGBTQ+ activism around the world. June 29th marks the specific day that honours the brave individuals who stood up to the system and protested for equality.

Progress has been great, and things are almost unrecognisable now, but with this visibility and success comes the backlash. In February, rumbles began to surface that certain States in the USA were creating bills to ban Drag in public to: 'save the corruption of children'. These moves are purposefully open ended and attack the much wider community, basically outlawing clothing being worn in public spaces, which is 'Not assigned to your gender' . Whatever that means? Articulate Drag icons such as Jinx Monsoon, Ben Della Crème and countless others have taken to the road to explain this much better than I can. I guess it’s not surprising that people wanting to live as they identify is so threatening to those who make the rules and have all the power because…Oh wait…What exactly is the problem? What are they so nervous about? What threat does it pose? I wonder if others living authentically troubles certain powers that be because possibly, they don’t? Or maybe it’s just that Queer people are easy divisive pray, the political 'Look over there' tactic to draw attention away from other issues like the terrifying lack of gun control.

After LGBTQ+ History Month (February), I had decided I was happy and ready to hang up my heels and take my lessons from Ginger and head off into the sunset a more rounded and experienced Gay/Queer person, but disappearing at this moment in history would be foolish. This is no time for quitting. It is time for gumption and guile. Time to double-down with more acts of visibility, kindness and celebration, to demonstrate the sentiment ‘We’re here, we’re Queer, get used to it' - and to spark new confidence and courage in each other to continue to claim and hold on to the right to just be ourselves.