Leeds Pride, and why I’m hanging up the heels
I think it’s taken me until now to recover from Leeds Pride. (Well, that’s the reason I’m going to cite for this blog being so late anyway!). I don’t know how people like organiser Tom Doyle do it, although I suppose he didn’t do the day in six inch heels!
We had a very early start on Sunday 1st August, and I can officially say it’s the first time I’ve worn a dress before 9am. Helped by my good friend (and horn-designer) Nic, Maria came to life and looked hotter than she ever has done. We minced up to Millennium Square from my flat near the river, attracting the most attention on Briggate (I never know if the wolf whistles are ironic), arriving just as the event was starting.
I usually get ridiculously nervous before I go on stage, however at Leeds Pride my attention was diverted. Just before we were due on stage, Terry George (local gay entrepreneur) made a speech about a member of bar staff from The Viaduct, Dane Holdsworth, who had been homophobically attacked the night before. Whilst I’m not sure whether taking Dane on stage was the best thing for this vulnerable young man, the message rang across the Millennium Square crowd loud and clear. Dane left the stage in a flood of tears, and I caught a glimpse of his bruised face.
And that’s when it hit me. Right then. That’s what gay pride is about. At that moment I remembered watching the film ‘Milk’, about Harvey Milk, the first who was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California. One of the riots in the film features a drag queen so ferocious it scared me. That’s what I wanted to be at that moment – scary. When I stepped on that stage I wanted people to see me so confident, so defiant, so ferocious in what I do and who I am that it spat in the face of those who hated us.
Whilst that was a rather extreme feeling, I did feel proud. As I looked back on to the crowd of thousands from The Viaduct’s float during the pride march (note march, not parade), I felt so privileged to be part of such an amazing, colourful and diverse community. (I also felt pretty privileged to not have to do the march on foot).
Ten hours, ten costume changes and seven numbers later the day was over. My feet were bruised, my make-up was smeared and my voice had gone, but I couldn’t have asked for a better day. (Even if Adam Rickett did mime).
I end this blog on a sad note, to say that I’ve hung up the heels for the time being. It became too hard for me working as a duo, and I’m looking forward to spending some time chilling out with my lovely boyfriend and doing normal boy things. Whilst I’m not going to divulge too much, I will say that I’m grateful for the time I worked with my beloved Tia, and this is by no means the end of Miss Maria Millionaire! Lock. Up. Your. Sons.Leeds Pride