Everyone in the LGBTQ community has their own unique memories of Pride.
Whether it’s the overwhelming excitement of the first parade you ever attended, the ability to meet others just like you – and not like you – or the sense of belonging you’ve been searching for your whole life.
As we reminisce over another colourful Pride season across the UK, we asked singer-songwriter and actor Chester Lockhart to share the four things he associates with Pride that have helped shape his life as an out-and-proud gay man.
The first time I attended a Pride was in Los Angeles at 18. I was working as a brand ambassador for Neutrogena handing out sunscreen samples to everyone in the parade. LA is blazing hot in the summer and I remember feeling like I was being cremated during the entire event, but because I’d never been around that many queer people before, I had a sense of constant euphoria through it all. I was glad to be baked alive among my fellow homosexuals. I must’ve squirted 20 gallons of SPF onto random strangers that weekend and to this day, whenever I smell those chemicals, I immediately recall drawing happy faces on the backs of bears in California – and you can clearly see I can use white-out for foundation, so I apply sunblock quite often.
Pride is a place for people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, creeds, shapes and sizes to come together and celebrate their individuality, and through our ‘otherness’ to join together as a community. You can truly travel the world in just one block. When I think of Pride, I’m immediately bathed in ribbons, signs, pins, clothing and skin tones of all different hues marching together. We’re all learning about each other and growing from one another. Though we come from different hemispheres, we share a big sickening rainbow parasol (mine is mostly black).
It’s no news that queer people are simply the most talented and brilliant humans that exist on earth. Facts are facts, America (don’t @ me). As an entertainer (or professional hooker, whichever you prefer), I’m always in awe of the excellence our community consistently achieves. We are outstanding because we’ve had to fight harder every step of the way, and we are great because we’ve had no choice. When I see a fierce drag queen, a genius scientist, or an out-and-proud sports player, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that I can call these people my friends, my comrades, my sisters.
As a teen, I was relentlessly bullied by boys in motocross pants and the kids in my Christian youth group who were supposed to be my friends. I lived for a long time without a home and I have seen so many young queer people struggle to find acceptance and necessities like food and shelter. The people who were the first to reach out a helping hand with freshly-painted nails were other gay men. It wasn’t until I met other queer people that I truly discovered what it meant to belong. We are all marginalised in varying degrees. Some of us are more privileged than others, but we understand what sets us apart actually brings us together. There is no other community of people where you can be completely different but still truly belong. Maybe you’re a 40 year-old, football fanatic, pansexual female archaeologist from Michigan who wants to cut loose and talk about the most recent fossil… or maybe you’re a half-Korean, musical theatre obsessed, anime-loving, Celine Dion-stanning, gay goth pop legend like me. When I think of Pride, I think of strangers embracing each other in the streets because we feel love on such a deep level for one another without having to know anything about each other. I think of my best friends and I dropping our asses as low as they can possibly go and realising I am finally accepted for who I am and celebrated for what I do. Being gay is the best thing that could have happened to me. I am thankful every day for my experiences – whether they were happy or difficult – and I am so PROUD to be a part of the LGBTQ community.
Photography Maxwell Poth