This summer I visited five UK cities and attended seven Pride events including Edinburgh Pride, UK Black Pride and Trans Pride Brighton. Each event was so different, but what united them was the feeling of being part of something powerful and unique – the LGBT community.
I wanted to Come Out For LGBT and show solidarity with everyone in our incredible community, and so many did the same up and down the country, in major cities and rural towns alike.
People coming out #marching #celebrating #dancing #talking and so much more during the Pride season creates visibility and reinforces a sense of belonging that is rarely replicated in everyday life.
I met so many amazing people, from all walks of life, across the entire spectrum of LGBT, as well as allies, and had such inspiring – and at times emotional – conversations. I met parents who were allies to their LGBT children, allies there to support their friends or work colleagues and even allies that just care about justice and equality and wanted to show their support. They all came together to show solidarity and love.
That is truly powerful and I was moved to be a part of it.
No one should have their identity questioned or open to debate. No one should feel they are alone in the fight for equality. It is my fight too. It is everyone’s fight.
On the first day of my first Pride, I met a young trans person who was attending the event alone. They were there seeking out their community, looking for safety and simply wanted to be themselves. They seemed so vulnerable and afraid, yet they stayed. That moment reinforced in me, a cis person, why it is so important to step up as an ally to the trans community. No one should have their identity questioned or open to debate. No one should feel they are alone in the fight for equality. It is my fight too. It is everyone’s fight.
And we know that fight isn’t over.
There were times throughout the summer, walking back from the “gay” village or central areas in each city in my 'Some People Are Gay. Get Over It!' t-shirt when I did feel vulnerable and at times even afraid.
I was approached aggressively more than once. We know that one in five of all LGBT people has experienced a hate crime in the last year, and two in five trans people. This is completely unacceptable. No one should have to live in fear. No one should experience abuse and violence, for simply being themselves.
You often hear that as a community we should stop “complaining” or “attention-seeking” when we put LGBT issues on the agenda. That we now have legal equality and therefore the work is done. However, that isn’t the case for trans people under the law and it also does not reflect the lived experience of so many LGBT people. Just last month I was attending a gay wedding in East London when a car drove past hurling homophobic abuse at me. This happened in a supposedly progressive and accepting city. My city. That is nothing compared to the violent attacks and relentless abuse so many in our community face every single day here and abroad.
We need allies both within the community and outside of it.
That is why we must Come Out For LGBT. That is why we need allies both within the community and outside of it. I have been lucky in my life that my family and friends have always been allies to me. They have accepted me and loved me for who I am. But that didn’t mean it was easy to come out. It doesn’t mean that some days the tiny little “coming outs” you must do aren’t tiring and frustrating or even dangerous at times.
This is one of the many reasons that being in queer spaces during Pride events can feel so empowering. Being comfortable and at ease can often be taken for granted but for many in the LGBT community it is rarer than it should be.
It’s so important that we can celebrate who we are, and the wonderful diversity of our community. We must keep fighting for our right to live our lives in peace, free from discrimination and persecution.
We need Pride now more than ever.