Dear Lesbian and Gay Pride: There's a mountain of discrimination still to climb but, in the meantime, do we need all this depressing, compulsory FUN? A former Gay Pride marcher pops the question

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Indy Lifestyle Online
I'm writing to tell you that I won't be able to make the Gay Pride march and festival in London tomorrow. No. That's not it. I could make it, but I don't want to. After 10 years without a missed date I now intend to stand you up. You see, it just isn't working any more. I know that you won't miss me - after all, this year looks like being your most popular year ever, with more than 100,000 revellers - but I felt I had to explain my absence, anyway.

The plain truth is, I'm not proud to be gay any more. In fact, I sometimes wonder if I ever was, or whether it was just a delusion brought on by exposure to too much disco and Mary Renault.

I've agonised about this for some time - the romance went out of our relationship years ago. I'm ashamed to admit that I've just been going through the motions the past few years. I've been faking it all: the group jollity, the crowd cheerfulness, the mass FUN. I suppose the fact that you didn't notice should have told me something.

It's not that I'm unhappy being gay, you understand - I just don't want to have to be happy about it any more, and that's what you seem to want from me. Celebrating your sexuality is an exhausting business at the best of times, but when it's compulsory it just becomes depressing. I know straights do it, but at least when they do they get bribed with food mixers and spice racks.

Yes, I realise there's still a mountain to climb: discrimination in the workplace and in immigration, an unequal age of consent, Section 28, official persecution in the armed forces and the unofficial, mundane, casual violence and prejudice that all this promotes. I realise that 25 years after the Stonewall riots in New York that started the gay movement, some sort of antidote is still needed for the fear and loathing of queer desire. But for me, pretending that my sexuality is something akin to Stimpy's Invention, a helmet that forces the wearer to sing the Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy song, is not the way forward.

The thing is, once you admit to not being proud any more, then you lose the whole point of a day like tomorrow. It just becomes the one day in the year when you can wear a T-shirt with writing on it, like 'Absolutely Queer' and 'I can't even think straight', without fear of arrest by the gay style police.

I hope that you don't think that I sound like one of those dreadful Tory queens we used to slag off so much, the ones who talked about us 'giving gays a bad name'. I wish you all the best, I really do. It's just that I just can't go on living a lie.

Try to have fun without me (I know you will).

(Photograph omitted)

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