A Spanish dancing queen at Gay Pride
Gay Pride is pretty much the same wherever you go in the world. I usually rock up to the London one and I have to say it usually rains on the parade. So it was a joy to be in the heat of a traffic-free central Madrid. We spent several hours in Gran Via, which is like being in Oxford Circus in London. We turned our noses up at the balloons decorating the large MacDonalds, metaphorically spitting on their rainbow printed fans complete with golden arches, and headed up the road to park ourselves outside a balconied hotel. Here we were entertained by slim young men in mini kilts and musclebound chaps of varying age and ethnicity wearing a variety of thongs and not much else.
The balcony guys were great fun and when the big red bus blasted out YMCA we all danced and it was a hoot to see how many balcony guys were not up to speed with the moves (or too cool!). Caught up in the drama of the day, I really enjoyed getting into the parade and taking photos of some of the amazing characters. There were people there who would have spent the best part of the day getting ready - defuzzing, slapping on body paint and glitter, slipping in falsies, putting on wigs and feathery angel wings and climbing onto their stilettos and platform shoes. Not surprisingly they were more than happy to be photographed or danced with. And for every drag queen or gorgeous glitter boy, there were hundreds of ordinary gay men and women who walked the streets in pride, reminding us what this party is all about.
A quiet older man in a pastel floral shirt and peach-coloured shorts stood in the crowd as if bewildered by the exuberance and yet he was smiling. How he has seen things change I thought to myself and tears of joy came to me. I am so grateful to live in a part of the world that is so open and accepting. For a moment I held my gay family members and friends in my thoughts and was glad. There is still much to be done to sweep away all barriers and prejudice but not on 4 July in Madrid. On this day the city was all theirs and the party was set to go on long into the night.