Over the past thirty-something years, I’ve been ‘proud’ of many things. I was proud when I got a few A’s in my GCSE’s (I know, I was surprised, too), I was proud when I passed my driving test, I was proud when I lost a lot of weight whilst trying for a baby, and more recently, I was proud when I conquered my fear of open heights.
Pride isn’t just about being proud of yourself either, you can be proud of your friends, family, and colleagues. Your neighbours, your congregation, your country. Pride has so much power behind it. It can empower people and celebrate a community. There is nothing wrong with being proud, however when used in the wrong way it can blind one’s viewpoint.
Last weekend, we attended Brighton Pride and watched from the sideline as the parade strutted through the streets of Brighton. We saw all the colours of the rainbow ten times over and watched as the spectrum of the LGBTQ community proudly held their banners and raised their voices as loud as they could. The crowds cheered them on, laughed with them, clapped, smiled, and took pictures of the sights before them. Pride was indeed in the air. It was intoxicating.
But things aren’t always like this.
Just the other day I read a report about two men who had been attacked during Brighton’s Pride celebrations, and last year two men were jailed after a homophobic attack in Brighton. Brighton being the (unofficial (but official in my eyes)) Gay Capital of the UK.
Why does Pride still exist in 2018?
Gay Pride is now the home for supporters and campaigners to come together and speak up for the LGBTQ community, not just locally, but globally. Mainly for those that can’t. Watching any Pride parade you will see banners and signs protesting injustice globally as well as more local political issues related to the Gay community. There will be large companies and businesses openly celebrating their diverse workforce (although for some this seems to be seasonal *pfft*), as well as universities, councils, emergency services, and charities doing their part for the community. More visibility = More Pride.
For many others, Pride has a different meaning, but it’s main purpose is to protest against the discrimination and prejudice, and often criminalisation, of the LGBTQ community. Originating from the 1969 Stonewall Riots that lead to June becoming the official month of ‘Pride’, it was one of the fastest growing movements in history and is still growing to this day – with countries around the world giving birth to their own Gay Pride – even Uganda, where you can still be imprisoned for being Gay and where same sex laws have recently been tightened.
We had a truly wonderful time at Pride last weekend. We celebrated and shared it with family who had never been to Brighton, let alone to Pride, and as always, T had fun. He blew his £4 whistle as floats drove by with music on full blast. He sat on our shoulders as the parade went by and waved at people as they walked past. I kissed my wife, she held my hand. I was so incredibly proud to be there.
So with Gay rights no longer being a taboo subject, and with more countries now being less ‘tolerant’ and more ‘accepting’ and ‘welcoming’ surely we’ve reached our goal? Surely we’ve reached a peak of acceptance? Well, No. Not at all, actually.
- In 2018, during the Commonwealth Summit, it was detailed that out of the 53 countries in the Commonwealth, 37 of those still have laws that criminalise homosexuality. That’s just under two thirds. Call me greedy, but in 2018 that number should be 53.
- In the US, there are still 18 states where you can discriminate against the LGB community when it comes to employment. It’s even greater for the Transgender community.
- During the 2018 World Cup, Russian football fans openly stated that they would attack LGBT fans coming to watch the games.
think we’ve finished with Pride?
Whilst in the UK, Gay Pride is usually a joyous time (until the morning after), elsewhere it is still a very political and often religious matter, where others are forced into hiding in fear of punishment or death, which is why it is still so important to celebrate it here in the UK, even if it doesn’t seem like it’s needed – although going back to the beginning of this post, even Brighton still has some work to do!
For me, the Pride festival doesn’t signify an achievement or end goal reached, just because I’m able to kiss my wife in public. It’s there to push me and other activists and campaigners forwards. To make the movement stronger. As well as inspiring others to get involved. It sends a message across; louder as it travels. Teaching others. Encouraging thought.
I will never forget the reason we have Pride and I will always speak up for those that can’t. I will teach my son about diversity and acceptance, but also about discrimination and what others have been through so we could get to where we are today.
Pride, at the end of the day, is and always will be a Protest.