“You’re quite camp aren’t you Sarah?” is one of the best things anyone has ever said to me. I remember clearly being sat in the sixth form common room at school with a girl from the year above. “Yes! Yes I am!” I replied with RuPaul theatricality.
I was an oddball teenager. Ginger, doughy and with none of the attributes needed to be fancied by lads. I went to bed longing to wake up looking like Natalie Imbruglia in the Torn video, but instead I woke with frizzy red hair and a complexion that resembled cranberry Wensleydale. I was teased by the boys on the school bus and spent my lunch times listening to the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack, imagining Taylor Hanson would arrive at the school gates to marry me. In the end and in an effort to fit in, I became a goth. Not a real one of course, I dyed my hair purple in the summer holidays, wore black lipstick occasionally and, perhaps most baffling, started to wear men’s boxer shorts from Gap as underwear.
I can’t remember the first time I watched Ab Fab but I gazed at Edina Monsoon and everything changed. She was loud, dramatic, cartoon camp with ridiculous clothes and I adored her. I loved how large everything about her was, how extreme and hilarious a woman on a television could be. She wasn’t interested in fitting in, in fact Eddie thought normal people were boring. Suddenly the sleek women in magazines I desperately wanted to look like were dull and being fabulous was the only way to live. I became a real life embodiment of her, walking around in tye dye and calling everyone “sweetie darling.” The boys on the bus didn’t get it at all.
Marcus Longinotti is one of the most fabulous people I had ever met in my life. He was only one year above me in sixth form but seemed years away in wisdom, experience and owning exactly who he was. He paraded around the common room, throwing around dramatics and slut dropping to Melanie C. I’ll never forget him, dressed as a reverend backstage in the school production of The Crucible, doing a full dance routine to Ricky Martin’s She Bangs. He was living it, all of it and he had no time for anyone who didn’t think they were fabulous. I was in awe.
Marcus practically threw me over his shoulder and took me to Canal Street. For the first time in my life no one cared that I was fat or had corned beef legs. No one cared I didn’t look like Shakira or that I wasn’t cool or didn’t know what to do with my hair. It wasn’t weird I sang Les Mis with my mother round the piano, in fact it was marvellous. I was different and that was fabulous. I wasn’t weird, I was wonderful. I was celebrated just for being there. Just for showing up. No one ever questioned that I was straight, I was me and as long as I was a nice person then “fuck it darling, who cares!”
Throughout my whole life I have been shown acceptance and love from a community that I don’t officially belong to. It has always welcomed me with open arms. It has thrown those arms around me when I have been lonely or scared or full of self hatred. It had hammered the message “be proud of who you are” to me over and over again. It has told me to live the life I want. It has provided my best friends. It has made me who I am.
Of course this year Pride is even bigger because last week marked the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act in England and Wales. There has been shitloads of amazing stuff to celebrate and this Saturday it is the epic Brighton Pride. I lived in Kemptown in Brighton for three years and lost lots of weekends being proud.
Ellie Ellie (a divine Brighton based independent brand) are celebrating the anniversary with their own Love is Love campaign. They believe “that everyone is equal, and want to spread the message that no matter who you love, you matter.” They have created fabulous t shirts as well as rainbow cufflinks with 20% of all sales going to The Kaleidoscope Trust, who work with parliamentarians, government ministers, officials and policy makers to campaign for real change. The t shirts are obscenely flattering so you can look delicious and do something good.
Because Love is Love, whoever it’s between.