Emma's first Gay Pride event....

Can you remember your first Gay Pride parade? 
Emma Evans can and it changed her life for ever.
Here's she recalls her first event 12 years ago and thinks about how times have changed since then......

My first Mardi Gras, was 2001 in Finsbury Park London. I remember that day vastly approaching, and all I could think of was, ‘what do lesbians wear’?

I had only been out around 4 months and 2001 was a big year for me – it was the first time I got drunk, first time I went to a gay bar, first time I kissed a girl, and first time in a relationship. I used to wake up and think "holy cow" that's a woman next to me! For my First Mardi Gras, as I recall, the ticket was around £15, which I thought wasn't bad for a day out. So as we all do, I went shopping for the outfit. I look back now, and think why just why?!  I'm glad I don't have any pictures from that day. I had baggy green trousers on with a line down the side of either leg, with black boots. Who wears boots to a park? They were ruined by the end of the day not to mention my baggy trousers, oh my god and the top I wore was dark baggy green. I was a big blob of snot walking around!

So we headed down to Trafalgar Square for the famous March. My partner at the time never missed a March and she had been to a few more then me. She was 8 years older than me, so I guess at the time she was my tour guide of Soho, and the "gay life".  When we arrived, my first thought was, "I've never seen so many gays in one place". I don't remember much of the march just these signs towards the end saying "love is Equal" around adoption and fostering. A huge overwhelming feeling came over me, and I realised then my life was never going to be the same. 

Since that day, I've never missed a March, which now is called a Parade. I have seen so many changes having attended 12 years of pride. 12 in London, which have changed names, venues etc.. so many times.  I’ve been to 6 Brighton prides, (which was free at first and the last 3 years have charged) Grand Canaria Pride last year, and this will be my 3rd Cardiff Mardi Gras. Last year me and my partner took part in the first ever parade, as she is from Cardiff I though it would be good to be a part of history. We are taking part in the Parade again this year and bringing some friends along with us. I watched Brighton Pride this year and felt like I was watching TV as there were so many company adverts, and it make me think, are all these companies free from bullying in the work place? Is there homophobia in those companies? I think if there is, they have no business walking or driving in these Parades. Hate crime is still out there, and we need to remember why we attend pride, and remember the LGBT community 30/ 40 years ago who made a stand and stood up for what they believed was right. We are finally going to be able to marry the person we love and it all began with just a March, no party no balloons, no music, just a community of people.
The LGBT community in Cardiff have worked so hard to achieve what they have, and I will continue to take part in their parades. I hope as the event in Cardiff grows, that they don't lose the focus on why they have Mardi Gras and what it means to so many people. The younger generation of LGBTs need to remember and realise how hard it has been to get where we are. 

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