Opposite St Peter’s church, the occasional duo of silver angels or high-wigged drag queens squeeze between the tee-shirted spectators. There’s a real air of excitement: hawkers are pushing their trollies along the road before the procession comes, selling rainbow flags, lurid wigs, whistles, and big penis-balloons with stupid cartoon faces.

The parade seems to be led by a camera team walking backwards. They’re followed by isolated duos in big feathers and huge heels, and macho-looking men in vests and boots and shades. Then come the lorries, hung with banners, people leaning out, waving at us, blowing whistles, kissing, dancing. Disco anthems blare out as they pass, and the crowd shout, whoop and clap. A man runs into the road to be photographed with a near-naked bald man, red leather straps tight round his big belly, camouflage wings on his back. A tall black silver gladiator dances by; there’s a boy on stilts in little gold shorts, a halo over his head. An elderly man drives his parasoled disability buggy, with a sign: ‘I’m 88, I’m Gay, I’m in Love!’ Fifty years ago he risked blackmail and prosecution.

There’s a Tesco Pride Lorry, an American Express Pride lorry, a British Airways Pride lorry… the big names all want to be seen as supporters. Gay Tories march past, Labour Party supporters hand out stickers – ‘I never kissed a Tory’ – (actually I think I have), gay Christians, there’s Caroline Lucas on the Green Party lorry… Then there are fire engines and ambulances swagged in gay association banners, flanked by laughing, dancing workers.

Then the police walk by. The front ranks in uniform but without the stab-proofs: some look uncomfortable, some scan the windows above us, but many are smiling at the crowd. Behind them are more police, in a casual uniform, dancing and reaching out to the crowd: the Sussex Gay Police. I realise that there are tears on my cheeks. This is ‘one-ness’: this parade is not about sex – it’s about our common humanity.

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