Having pride is about feeling worthy, having respect for ourselves, respecting each other, and having dignity in our beliefs and the way we live our lives. It is particularly important to demonstrate this pride in the face of such hatred, ignorance and homophobia, transphobia and biphobia that many have experienced (eight in 10 LGBT people have been abused or harassed, with one in 10 suffering physical assault, Hardy, 2015).
We can feel proud about our persistence for equal rights, but let's not pretend that there are equal rights just because we have gay marriage. Policies can be introduced that support equality, but let’s not forget that policies can also be introduced to get rid of equality (e.g. Section 28, 1986). Only recently, for example, there was threats of scrapping the Human Rights Act.
Last year the leader of the Ukip party defended another Ukip candidate who likened homosexuality to incest and added that “Most people over 70 are uncomfortable with homosexuality”. Often these views are loud and obnoxious and whilst ‘an empty vessel makes the most noise’, it is important that these views do not push/keep those less confident, less proud into the closet.
The very fact that people still talk if 'tolerance' and 'allies' demonstrates how much work there still needs to be done. Many argue that we should get rid of the word tolerance – when we speak of people who ‘tolerate’ LGBT people, they are ‘putting up’ with the existence of opinions and behaviour of those they don’t like.
The Leicester LGBT centre receives numerous calls of people experiencing shame and feeling stigmatised and problems can arise when people do not feel socially accepted. We know just how important it is for you to come out and be among those who do not judge you for your sexuality/gender. We recognise that silence is the hallmark of the bully/perpetrator so to be visible, loud and proud is to take pride in the battles we have all fought, both individually and collectively, and unite against those who have discriminated against us.
While Pride is a celebration, let’s remember that the ‘personal is political’ and also remember that many fought extremely hard to allow us more of the freedom we have now… in this country. Stephen Fry’s ‘Out There’ programme reminded us that Pride is a global issue as well as a local and national issue. We can feel luckier than those in anti-gay Russia, for example. Though we might feel lucky to have more equality in this issue, as Ali Hendry at L Fest (2015) argued, it is only when we stop feeling lucky that it becomes a non-issue.
We need to unite together, just like the powerful message in the Pride film this year showed; we are stronger when we stand together. Whilst the film showed the story of how Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM), let’s think about who is being demonised now. Many will feel the strong resonance that there are more groups being targeted in today’s austerity. LGBT support the disabled (whose benefits are being cut), older people (who experience discrimination), single mothers (who are losing the Child Support Agency and legal aid), students (who will leave universities with huge loans and big competition in the job market), young people (who fight for minimum wage and cannot get on the property ladder), and charities for children, women’s aid, refuge…? It would certainly be a long list of those the LGBT support! As a society we are much more fragmented so it’s even more important to come out and walk through the streets of Leicester no matter what your sexuality and gender to support Equality for all and the Human Rights that we are all entitled to.
Show your diverse community, remind yourself of just how proud you are and chant ‘glad to be gay’! Finally, in the words of Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You’re playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Click here to find out what’s on at Leicester Pride 2015 on Saturday 5 September.