On Saturday 27 August 2022 Get The L Out UK demonstrated at Cardiff Pride. Eighteen of us joined the parade, handing out leaflets and unfurling banners proudly proclaiming our same-sex attraction. We took up a place at the front of the parade, ahead of the drag queens and drummers. Our reasons for this are twofold. First, for our safety: we know from past experience that we are vulnerable to assault if we put ourselves in the middle of a march. Second, for visibility: we believe that our message needs to be seen, and not relegated to the back of the queue.
We wanted to show that Lesbians matter. It is important to us to be visible to other Lesbians, particularly younger Lesbians who are more susceptible to queer politics and to the ‘transing’ of young, gender-nonconforming women. It is important that other Lesbians know they have a community of women in us. It is important that Lesbians know their same-sex attraction is absolutely valid, and meaningful, and that Lesbians are females who exclusively desire relationships with other females.
We were met with a few jeers, and with one or two minor scuffles as some men attempted to wrestle the banners from our hands. But our action garnered the attention of onlookers. We could see them reading our banners, taking photographs, and filming. If nothing else, we hope that when they got home and googled this strange phenomenon – the ‘cotton ceiling’ – then they would join us in our outrage at the fact that Lesbians are being subjected to this.
The police soon formed a line behind us, separating us from the rest of the parade. We tried to march on, but we were prevented from moving forwards by both police and Pride stewards. We were effectively hemmed in, presumably because our message, our presence, was deemed to be unsuitable for the front of the parade. Individual police officers approached us one by one, telling us to move aside or we would be arrested. The reasons for this ranged from ‘causing a confrontation’ to ‘for [our] own safety.’ The police told us that the only way we, Lesbians, could take part in the Pride parade was to take up a position at the very back, behind all the other marchers. The irony was not lost on us.
Finally, under threat of arrest for non-compliance, we moved to the side and the parade continued without us. But our mission had been to draw attention to the erasure of Lesbians from ‘the LGBTQ community’ and we had done just that. In fact, the police, and Pride representatives, had proved our point for us: they had ejected Lesbians from Pride for proclaiming our same-sex attraction.
Our action went viral on social media. A video of the police ejecting us has had over 3.7 million views (and counting). Journalist Jo Bartosch covered our action closely (and wrote about it here.) Feminist news website Reduxx also covered the story. On Twitter, we received support from Julie Bindel (who subsequently wrote about our action), Suzanne Moore, and…. Martina Navratilova!
This action was supported by LGB Alliance Cymru, Merched Cymru, and Women’s Rights Network (Wales). Thank you to women there for your sisterhood.