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22 June 2023

Why Pride?

When June decides to grace us with its presence each year the inevitable rainbow flags get dusted off, tv and radio fill our lives with all things LGBTQ+ and, right on cue, the following questions are shouted through metaphorical megaphones.

Why do we still need Pride? A whole month?! Where’s straight Pride?

A few years ago, I may have answered these questions with much sass but as I hear these more and more often and choose to engage rather then enrage, I realised that some people simply do not know why Pride is so important. After all, the first Pride was held in New York in 1970. We must have made enough progress by then, surely? Well, yes and sadly no.

If we look at the UK for example, conversion therapy is still partly legal, and the government is still on the fence about banning it altogether. There are anti trans groups like the LGB alliance who not only spread misinformation (a quick google of their claims will debunk any argument) but are given charity status and incredibly groups actively trying to bring back Section 28 (click the link if you did not know what this was). This is in addition to the 71 countries where just being LGBTQ+ is illegal and often with severe punishment.

And sadly, the numbers here in the UK speak for themselves:

·         62% of graduates go back into the closet when starting their first job

·         Health and police services were found to be discriminatory towards LGBTQ+ individuals

·         45% of trans young people have attempted to take their own life

·         64% of LGBTQ+ have experienced violence

We wont look at all the stats as there are many but sources like Stonewall, GALOP and Mermaids hold a wealth of resources for you to look at.

Something that flies under the radar is that equality for the LGBTQ+ community means equality for us all. The gender binary (the idea that you can only be male or female and its based on anatomy) is what labels the LGBTQ+ community as “different”, it lays down rules for who you are, who can love, how you can dress and what you are expected to do. This affects everyone: whether you are LGBTQ+ or not, we need to all support and be part of a movement that challenges anti LGBTQ+ sentiment.

Here are some examples to highlight what I mean:

A Canadian girl, 9, was brought to tears by a man who insisted she was trans

Just this week, a grown man verbally abused a 9-year-old girl at a school sports day because she had short hair. He did not give up and demanded to see the girl’s birth certificate before he would leave them alone. This was not in fact a trans girl but a cisgender, assigned female at birth girl who just liked a pixie cut. [LINK]

Oh, but that’s the USA I hear you say, lets look closer to home…

Cancer survivor harassed and accused of being trans

A cancer survivor who had a double mastectomy is often asked to leave public restrooms or prove she is female do to her lack of breasts: [LINK]

This is why we need Pride; the alternative is defining who we are by very narrow criteria. Men have to be masculine and strong with no emotions or women have to be petite and dress as feminine as possible. Pride not only celebrates how far we’ve come and the resolve of the LGBTQ+ community to keep on going no matter what.I It empowers, it educates, and it allows all of us to live as our authentic selves. The LGBTQ+ community has endured much over the years and Pride provides a safe space to be who they are.

So, if someone does ask you “What about straight Pride?” just remind them to be grateful that they don’t need one. Or if you were feeling sassy you could respond with “Well what about able bodied parking spaces?”

Brett Dryden, Organisational Development – Diversity & Inclusion