I was recently asked for a “one or two sentence quote” about what pride means to me and I have to admit it took me a while to get a hold of my feelings before I was able to put something together that didn’t resemble the first draft of a TED Talk!
This Pride month has been a pretty turbulent one so far and we’re only two weeks in! And while it remains a month of celebration I feel like it’s the first time in a long time that I, and the wider LGBTQ+ community, have been pretty harshly reminded of ALL the reasons why we still need Pride.
Pride is a Protest
If you’d have asked me 10 years ago what Pride meant to me I probably would have just said one word: Party!
I attended my first Pride event when I was 19. It was the summer before I was heading off to University and I attended all 4 days of both Manchester and Brighton Pride. I was young, carefree and cocky. I had the time of my life but I was naive, with little to no knowledge about how Pride started and why we still needed it beyond an excuse for a weekend-long booze-up.
Fast-forward 10 years and my immediate answer to that same question is Protest!
Pride began as a protest and, for me at least, it remains one.
It’s a protest against the abuse and violence, and fear of abuse and violence, that so many LGBTQ+ people experience every day.
It’s a protest to highlight the fact that 2/3 of LGBTQ+ people are scared to hold their partner’s hand in public for fear of reprisal.
It’s a protest in solidarity with Melania and Chris, the lesbian couple who were brutally beaten on a London bus because they refused to kiss for a bunch of teenage boys’ leering pleasure.
It’s a protest against Gay Conversion Therapy, that is still LEGAL in the UK—despite being put forward in the government’s 2018 LGBT action plan to be banned, it remains legal at the time of writing.
It’s a protest against gay and bi men being banned from giving blood if they’ve recently had sex.
It’s a protest against Northern Ireland still not allowing same-sex marriage, despite it being legal in the rest of the UK since March 2014.
It’s a protest at the fact that LGBTQ+ people are at higher risk of experiencing mental health problems than the rest of the population and that the reasons for this are often linked to discrimination, bullying and homophobia/biphobia/transphobia.
It’s a protest against LGBTQ+ youth being 4X more likely to self-harm than their heterosexual peers.
It’s a protest to stand up for the 1 in 5 queer young people (aged 13-24) and 1 in 3 trans and non-binary young people who’ve attempted suicide in the past year because of discrimination.
It’s a protest against young LGBTQ+ homelessness and the fact that LGBTQ+ people make up almost 1/4 of all young homeless people in the UK—many as a direct result of their sexuality i.e. kicked out by their parents for being gay.
It’s a protest against the protesters in Birmingham and Manchester that say they don’t want their children to learn about LGBTQ+ relationships—newsflash, your kid already goes to school with Sally who has two dads so, too late, sorry, your little angel already knows about this stuff and he’s cool with it!
It’s a protest against intersex babies and young people being operated on in order to make them ‘fit in’ to the male/female gender binary—FYI intersex people represent roughly 2% of the world’s population which, for context, is the same percentage of genetic redheads (like me) in the world or roughly 150 MILLION people!
It’s a protest against all the LGBTQ+ venues across the country that still aren’t fully accessible, including ALL of central London’s LGBTQ+ venues!
It’s a protest against the TERFs and other radical pockets of the wider LGBTQ+ community that seek to discriminate against my trans, non-binary and genderqueer family—not on my watch and not in my name!
It’s a protest against trans rights being rolled back all over the US.
It’s a protest against dictators like the Sultan of Brunei who think it’s ok to stone people to death because they’re gay and the 12 other countries/jurisdictions that carry the death penalty for being gay.
It’s a protest at the fact that as an openly queer person the world is not my oyster. I can’t just pack up and travel wherever I want without putting in the research to make sure I won’t be arrested or killed for going on holiday with my wife (The Unicorn and I would have quite liked to go to the Carribean on our Honeymoon but we didn’t fancy two weeks of pretending to be sisters).
It’s a protest against the 40 countries who still retain ‘gay and trans panic’ clauses which “enables people to use as a defence for committing crimes such as assault or murder that they were provoked because the person was gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans.”
These are just a handful of the reasons why I attend Pride, why I protest and will continue to do so in the years to come, and why my children (when I have them) will attend Pride with me and my wife too!
I could go on but if you want more, this post by Vic Parsons highlights 15 rights LGBTQ+ people in the UK still don’t have in 2019.