Normally a highlight of the south-London gay calendar, Adam Lucy questions the ethos of Clapham Street Party.
For years Clapham Street Party was an enjoyable experience for me. A time to meet up with friends, socialise and meet new people while getting some sun and listening to some music or cabaret. This year it has got to be one of the most soul destroying, disturbing and frankly worrying events I have been to. Granted, all other times I have attended I was drinking and this year I was sober but, from other people’s opinions as well, this diagnosis is true whether drinking or sober.
A friend commented that the set up was ‘like a concentration camp’, thousands of gays behind steel wire fences; after hearing this observation I thoroughly agreed. The space is confined and frankly inadequate. This however is not where my bugbear lies. When I first got in to the ‘Camp’ I was struck by the anxious feeling in the air. A feeling that bordered on near desperation. People darted to and fro, always scanning the crowd, eyes hidden behind shades, waiting, anticipating.
As the evening progressed the full scale of what was anticipated became apparant. A large percentage of people I could see were absolutely off their heads. I went to use the portable urinals, people were consuming substances within. I walked to the bar and hollow sickly faces and vacant eyes leapt into my view, gurning mouths twisted and turned. I kid you not – at some points it was like being in a zombie movie.
I am no prude as those of you who know me and also those that have read my blog. I have dabbled and and speak from experience especially in my younger years. Drugs have become absolutely endemic on the gay scene. As if a tidal wave has crashed over it and people are drowning under a sea of pills and powders. Its brutal, ugly and frightening. The throw-away comment of ‘this looks like a concentration camp’ is even more chilling when you take on board that a large number of people behind that steel fence were quite happily poisoning themselves.
This no doubt is going to make me unpopular with a few but I am past caring. If Clapham Street Party is precursor to the now near aborted World Pride event then I am glad its been scaled back. There is no pride to be found in some of the faces I saw today, no pride to be found in a desperate clamour to obliviate and no pride to be found in gay London; a certain LGBT news source had it right when it said that this is World Shame.