Ian Usher is co-founder and promoter of the club night, Sonic Yootha (Photo: Andrew Winder)
At the age of 43 I’m attending my first ever Pride March this coming weekend in Liverpool.
I asked a friend if they were ‘doing the walk’ last week, which kinda explains a lot. I’ve just never really felt the need. Be it right or wrong, it wasn’t for me.
From as early as I can remember I knew I was different. Everyone knew I was different. It was no big secret. I got a Panda Bear teddy I called Sue for Christmas, while my brother got a toy gun.
I would be tormented on a daily basis. My dad, brother, mates even, would call me names referring to my sexuality: I was a fucking kid.
People I didn’t know would shout at me from buses. Other kids would come from all around the area to laugh at me for the clothes I wore or punch me or try and have sex with me.
Before I even knew myself what it even meant, it was common knowledge where I grew up that Ian Usher was a hom, queer, bender, whatever. Fact.
My pride and learning to run to escape the bullies
To be fair, I didn’t exactly make things easy for myself. I did handstands with the girls, got my ear pierced aged 9, wore a denim jacket with Dead Or Alive printed on the back … but I learnt to run, and fast. Litherland’s very own roadrunner. No fucker could catch me.
The older I got, the harder it got. High School was a nightmare. I was bullied for a whole year by a lad two years younger than me.
Every day he would get me, make me stay behind after the bell had gone, get me to say I was a queer and then he would punch me in the face and let me go. Off to class, late, with a big red face, another detention, everyone looking at me, but never did I let them see me cry. Never!
I promised myself that when I left school I would leave Litherland/Liverpool. I would find my people/tribe and I would live my life as an out gay man and I would be happy.
Escaping my hometown
I was one of the lucky ones and I did exactly that.
I told everyone. It wasn’t apologetic. It was factual and you have two choices: accept it or fuck off out of my life. Every single day since that moment, in 1993, I have lived openly and proud of who I am. Existing in everyday life has been my pride.
Drinking on Canal Street [Manchester’s gay village] not only in glass fronted bars, but on the street, in full gay glory. Until then, most bars were either on backstreets, down stairs or behind boarded windows. That was my pride.
Correcting people in the workplace when it is assumed I have a female partner that I have a male one. That is pride.
Being happy, and finding love in not only myself, but with another, is my pride.
It’s my story and it’s how I chose to live my life.
Questioned over queerness
Just recently, a member of staff at a venue I love and respect commented that Sonic Yootha, the night I co-run, was not a ‘queer event.’ I was so taken aback by such a ridiculous and offensive statement, I was actually quite upset and lost for words at first.
I asked on what grounds did he come to this conclusion, given myself, [co-promoters] John, Shaun and Tracy have been out on the Liverpool scene since the 80’s/90s. He replied, ‘loads of straight people go.’
If you are still reading this and unsure of what is so wrong about his words, then that is why I will be marching/walking on Saturday. For me personally, I stand for unity. Gay, straight, queer … whatever you chose to identify as. If you’re cool with me, I’m cool with you.
We seem to have lost our way as a community and it’s so depressing. If you want to exist in a little box shut off from the world screaming for equality and then complaining about it in the next breath, go for your life.
If you want to segregate yourself from not only your queer brothers and sisters, but from the rest of society, have yourself a ball. But one thing I will say is it’s a sorry state of affairs when I feel the need to go on a Pride March in favour of queer unity, at a time when we need to be coming together more than ever.
To end on a lighter note, I hope anyone and everyone attending the Liverpool Pride March on Saturday has a good one and looks out for one another… and remember, the message is LOVE!
Pride in Liverpool takes place Saturday 27 July in Liverpool City Centre. Sonic Yootha runs monthly at 24 Kitchen Street, Liverpool. It returns for a Pride night special this Saturday at 9pm.
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