I used to go to Pride as a teenager in London with my sister who is gay. It used to be in our local park in South London, Brockwell Park.
It was a thrill seeing Norwood Road suddenly transformed and full of colourful, vibrant and openly gay people completely outnumbering any lads who might be homophobic. It was also heartening to see that there were many more people like my sister, celebrating who they were and getting strength from the pride of others.
Many years have passed since then and, although there has been a lot of progress in achieving equality for those who are LGBT through legislation, I know that my sister still doesn’t feel able to express herself as freely as I can. Until she feels comfortable to give her girlfriend a kiss and cuddle outside of their home, there is still more to be done in terms of society being and feeling more equal and accepting.
These days I attend Pride in a more sober capacity, to work on the stand and promote the work of my employer, Natural Resources Wales. I am an Ally Champion on its LGBT network which has taken many positive steps to show that promoting equality is not just a legal requirement, but an organisational priority and this reassures staff they can be themselves.
Pride events in the UK also give hope and show solidarity with other countries where there is still much to be done. It scares me that if my sister had been born in Uganda for example, her life would be so much more difficult and possibly endangered and it is terrible that all over the globe people are being criminalised and punished for how they love. I didn’t choose to be heterosexual so how could anyone else be expected to?
This quote from one my favourite people, Quentin Crisp, sums up my feelings perfectly:
“I don’t think you can really be proud of being gay because it isn’t something you’ve done. You can only be proud of not being ashamed.”
Pride is a great way to celebrate not being ashamed and I’ll always support it.