"I feel proud of people who get along despite their differences" - Radio 4's Paddy O'Connell on Pride

7 July 2017

The Pride Festival takes place in London over the weekend, and there will be a march through the city’s centre to celebrate the occasion. Sharing with us a few of his thoughts about the event, speaker and broadcaster Paddy O’Connell, known for hosting Radio 4’s programme Broadcasting House, comments: "I’ve blown hot and cold over Pride; I’ve had mixed views."

He continues, "There’s the New York Pride, which changed the course of my life. To summarise, Quentin Crisp came past in an open topped Cadillac.  I met a man, and moved to Manhattan - natch! Then there’s the London Pride when I stood centre stage in Trafalgar Square and someone threw a bottle at me. I was introducing the Eurovision band Scooch to the massed thousands, but I’m pretty sure the bottle was for me, not them."

Broadcaster Paddy O’Connell

"But there’s also been that smug feeling that comes from benefitting from all the brave things other people did for equality. Sometimes you can’t help but think 'Do I really need to march in the rain or heat blowing my whistle anymore?

That said, people are still beaten up for being gay. Whether due to the wrong place or the wrong time, it is still happening on our streets. Polarised Britain is now baring its teeth, hate crime is rising, and there's a big gap between young and older people."

"I do feel proud of the progress made over sexual identity in the UK in my lifetime."

"So, I want my whistle back," says Paddy. "I’d like to see a demonstration of Pride; of what we can achieve in our country; and of its fragile tolerance.

I do feel proud about people who can learn to get along despite their differences.

I do feel proud of the progress made over sexual identity in the UK in my lifetime – everything that has happened with scant effort from me. If I even try to think about what’s happened in Ireland, I might faint before I finish these words.

I do feel proud about all the straight people who helped all their friends who aren’t.

And I do feel proud about the pioneers who led the way in all this… did I mention I once saw Quentin Crisp in an open-topped Cadillac and he helped change my life?!"

For further information or to book Paddy O'Connell, call us on +44 (0) 20 8365 3200 or email  info@speakerscorner.co.uk

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