Out on a dike

Out on a dike phr. [mid 19-C] (US) going out in one's best clothes. [DIKED DOWN] I'm out as a dyke, occasionally out with a dyke. What I do when I'm out on a dike can become your business once I write about it here.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Symbol of Unity

I wonder about the many different things I may have written if I had posted more regularly in recent weeks. This week I have seemed a bit withdrawn, dislocated. I've seemed that way to myself; no one else has commented. But I know I sat in a pub garden with colleagues from work on Wednesday lunchtime and found it very difficult to contribute to the conversation, almost watched myself sitting there.

Very likely it's because I'd just returned from a few days away in Blackpool. Possibly I'd had too much sun. Sun at the British seaside? Yes, very strong sun and lots of it. I could have done with my cap that I forgot to pack or with putting on more of the scalp moisturiser for cropped hair that I use. Still, I bought a new cap in the end, so that's one souvenir from the short holiday. Surprisingly, it doesn't say 'kiss me quick, shag me slowly' or anything else of that ilk. Unsurprisingly, I had to leave the seafront shops to find something suitable. Three nights in Blackpool actually felt like a reasonable break, longer somehow, but possibly I could have done with more days away from the usual routine.

The general atmosphere is also more subdued - and yet resolute - following the bombings in London on 7th July. Just over a week on and we know so much more about those events now, but are not much closer to the why. So many families coming to terms with tragic truth, including the families of the four individuals who chose to end lives this way. I woke, preparing to go to Blackpool that morning, to news of 'power surges' on the London Underground, then news of more explosions filtered through. Many people feel connections with London, that's clear from the 'London United' tribute in Trafalgar Square on Thursday evening and the two minute silence earlier that day. I have never lived in London but I'm a regular visitor. The area around King's cross and Russell Square, and the Piccadilly line, feel particularly familiar.

Copyright/Picture Credit www.PrideLondon.org

I was in London on Saturday 2nd July for London Pride. I've taken part in the Pride march every year since 1988. London was swarming with visitors that day, especially around Hyde Park,and not only for the Pride parade. Thousands were there for the Live8 Making Poverty History concert. In different ways, these were symbols of London being united, too. It was because there would be so many more people travelling across London that Andrea and I arrived earlier than usual at the assembly point - this time on Park Lane, just outside Hyde Park. So we walked up and down, past the floats we might not otherwise have seen. Then we heard a woman asking for volunteers to help carry the large rainbow flag at the head of the parade. I've had many different experiences of and at Pride, but never done this before. It felt really special, like being part of something very powerful. There is always great spirit on the march and from the thousands who support from the street sides these days. Carrying the flag gave me a deeper connection.

I expect I would have written about this experience differently immediately after Pride. The rainbow flag feels even more potent now. It is a symbol that has come to represent all that is lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender across the world. It is also a symbol celebrating diversity, hope and unity that surely most people would wish to embrace.

The official Pride London magazine explains the six colours of the rainbow flag as:

Red - Life / n. a person's state of existence as a living individual

Orange - Healing / n. & adj. to become sound, alleviate pain or regain balance once more

Yellow - Sun / n. & v. providing light or warmth

Green - Nature / n. a person's innate or essential qualities and the
physical power causing the phenomena of the material world

Blue - Art / n. a human creative skill or its application

Violet - Harmony / n. an agreement or concord be it materially or

Right now, the world could do with a definite injection of healing and harmony. So in a week when visible expressions of unity have become so significant, it now feels even more of a sad act that one London borough council has banned rainbow flags, describing them as 'clutter', when other symbols representing commercialism, consumerism and greed are allowed to fly free. Read more here.

Shouldn't we all be flying rainbow flags?



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