So, I attended the Budapest Pride March this Saturday.
This was my first Pride experience ever, although many people I respect take part each year, it just never occured to me before that I should be there too.
I am just not the marcher or demonstrator type in general, but then there were many issues lately that converted many non-marchers, I guess.
I know quite a few gay people, some I even call friends, so tolerance and acceptance had never been a question for me. Not even before I left my small hometown, where homosexuality is still a taboo, something one only sees on TV, therefore it is something that’s weird, unusual, which for most people equals something bad.
I will never forget this one occasion, when I was sitting at a restaurant in Budapest with one of my friends who lived all her life in our hometown, and then recently moved to the city. We were having our meals when a gay guy walked in asking for a table. He was seemingly gay, the way they usually portray gay men in movies. My friend was pointing her finger at him, heavily gesticulating while whispering to me not silently enough “he is gay! he is gay!”. I was so embarrassed I wanted to sink under my seat and disappear. This one episode and many more like this made me grateful for the many influences affecting me from a very young age that showed me how diverse the world is and how one’s sexuality doesn’t determine what kind of people they are at all.
I’ve met gay people in different stages of their lives. There were times when I’ve come to like people, became friends with them and after their coming out it didn’t occur to me for a minute that they are now different then before they let me know whom they love. If you liked them before, they are likeable. That’s all that matters. Their sexual orientation doesn’t change that from one day to the next, does it?
But this is not why I attended the march this year. Supporting our gay friends and demonstrating that our minds and hearts are open is an important aspect of this event, but not the only aspect. At least not in Hungary.
As the Hungarian government spreads hate through its state media nowadays, there were more articles from both sides of the argument in the past weeks than ever before during Pride week. Since there are haters, provocateurs, cordons and danger for marchers on the Hungarian event, the march is never just the celebration of diversity as it is in many places around the world. To make it worse, the government seems to be on the haters’ side inciting exclusion against anything and anyone they don’t approve of.
Recently I was refered to an article on a government sponsored news site no less, where the author claims that “single people” along with gays and physically and/or mentally disabled people among others are not valuable members of society. We have heard their homophobic rethoric and we know they consider the disabled worthless, and these are all bad enough, but single people now? Suddenly, along with every third millennial who don’t consider starting a family their utmost purpose in life, I found myself among those they want to get rid of! I did not see that coming. So, this was the final push for me to be there.
I thought this is serious now. This is us against them, us wanting tolerance, inclusivity and diversity, and them fighting against all these.
This is about the world we want to live in.
This is about what is right and wrong. Hate is wrong.
This is about letting them know that we don’t want to live in a country that keeps people in fear for showing their real selves and living the way they want to live.
During the event I haven’t seen any deviant or inappropriate behaviour, nor any provocateurs among the marchers. I have only seen peaceful and friendly people who wanted to demonstrate for the values they believe in openly. Budapest is still far from London (not just geographically speaking) where at the exact same time 26000 people celebrated Pride without fear and with policemen smiling to cameras with their own rainbow garlands. On the Budapest Pride March too, thousands of people express their wish for a better world, from the unknown activists through public figures to numerous companies and organizations, and that is reason enough for hope.
I wish there would come a time when Budapest Pride will not be a once a year occasion for LGBTQ people in Hungary to celebrate their identities openly, rather an event for everybody to celebrate love in general without distinction. Love is love, after all.