Upon arrival at school last Monday morning I found myself, delightfully, bombarded with rainbows, balloons and all things celebratory – what a lovely way to begin my week!
I couldn’t help but wonder what our visiting Japanese guests thought of the whole extravaganza. Having recently been lucky enough to visit Japan myself, I must admit there was not a rainbow flag in sight. However, to my delight, all the girls and even the staff joined in with our wonderful Pride celebrations.
Monday assembly was a triumph, and big congratulations must go out to all the other girls who spoke – notably Anna Healy (our LGBTQ+ guru) who organised the entire week with help from Mr Cawsey and Ms Kennedy.
Whilst Pride was an incredibly important event, especially for our LGBTQ+ students, I truly felt that Wimbledon High’s version had a little something for everyone. When I held a peer counselling session with some Year 10s on Wednesday, I discovered that Wimbledon High girls are proud of a large variety of things ranging from: their friends, their work, their boyfriends (or girlfriends) and even, rather superficially I must admit, the people they have kissed!
Despite the humour of this session – something which I think, perhaps, is unique to Wimbledon High – I felt incredibly privileged to be attending a school where issues like LGBTQ+ rights are so blatantly accepted that there is even space left for jokes and “banter”. I didn’t feel as though I needed to lecture the girls on why it’s okay to be gay – they just seemed to already know it was. I think this is something rather special about our school that I am particularly grateful for.
Later on, that day I attended a rainbow-themed Scholar’s recital organised by Mr Bristow. Despite the joy of the occasion, I must admit I left in tears – the sheer beauty of some of the playing really got to me. Shout-out to Miriam Pancheva who played the most incredible violin concerto by Bruch.
After a rather emotional lunchtime I was in need of some comic relief and boy did I get it. A group of Sixth Formers and a few Year 11s flooded the Rutherford for our screening of the amazing movie: Pride. I’d seen it before, but this viewing was aided by cookies, friends and… a unicorn cake!
And then came the big day. Being a keen bean, my friends and I gathered in the hall at 1pm on the dot. The party was just beginning, and the gay anthems were booming from the hall speakers. As the hall filled with girls throughout all the years waving their rainbow flags and grinning with rainbows painted on their cheeks it began to feel rather surreal. In Year 10 when people began to first come out in my year, it all felt very taboo, not necessarily because of the school’s attitudes per se, but just in terms of the social environment. To see the entire school celebrating the issue, just 18 years (one adult) away from when Section 28 was still in action, was overwhelming and heart-warming.
After our Pride concert, which involved numbers such as Toxic, Somewhere Over the Rainbow and Beautiful, lessons ensued.
I think it is fair to say that after a week of colour, Wimbledon High has leapt over the rainbow and is now bathing in a sea of blissful progressiveness, acceptance, tolerance and, most importantly, love.