‘Nobody should have to hide their love’: LGBTQ+ young people on why we still need Pride
‘Until every queer person can wake up without fear of being harassed for being who they are, we still need Pride’
July 1st 2022 marks exactly 50 years since the first ever UK Pride. Since then our community has lived through the AIDS crisis, Section 28, and a whole load of homophobia. Some people think that today, just because it’s not illegal to be gay this means we’ve come the full way to equality and don’t need things like Pride any more. But there’s still a long way to go.
Research from Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity, found double as many LGBT+ pupils are bullied in schools, as compared to their straight counterparts. It also found that LGBT+ young people face more daily tension at home, are less close with their families, and are more likely to face mental health issues and feelings of loneliness.
The Tab spoke to LGBTQ+ young people about why Pride is so important and what it means to them – and, ultimately, their stories prove why we very much still need Pride. Here’s what they had to say:
‘Pride is all about celebration’
“To me, Pride is all about celebration. It’s a time to come together with other members of the LGBT+ community, but also all of the allies that support us. Particularly as a person of colour, I think it’s about showing that we’re here, too, we’re part of this community, we have a voice, and representing that in a beautiful, colourful celebration.”
‘It combats stereotypes’
“Pride matters because we deserve to be proud of who we are. I didn’t usually associate Pride with my sexuality when I was younger – I felt like it was something to keep hidden and discrete. But once I began to see LGBT+ role models who celebrated their sexuality and gender identity with pride, I was inspired and encouraged to do the same. So Pride matters because it combats the stereotypes and stigma still attached to our community with a celebration of the best of LGBT+ life.”
‘It makes me even more determined to fight for LGBTQ+ equality’
“Pride matters because not only does it celebrate how far the LGBT+ community has come but it also spreads awareness of what still needs to be done to improve the lives of LGBT+ individuals. Pride month can help spread awareness of the need for inclusive education and for schools to provide positive messages about being LGBT+, because every student deserves to feel safe and seen in their own school.
“Pride month matters to me because it makes me even more determined to fight for LGBT+ equality and hope for a future where I will not have to refrain from holding my girlfriend’s because a group of people are staring and nobody should have to hide their love.”
‘It’s like making up for all the time I lost’
“I talk about being a lesbian a lot because I spent a long time wishing I wasn’t one and being ashamed of it. So now being able to embrace Pride as an event and my sexuality is like making up for all the time and opportunities I lost.
“Part of the reason why I can feel comfortable expressing my sexuality is because of all those people who spent years and years fighting for that exact right. The rights of lesbian, gay, trans, bi and every other queer person. LGBTQ+ history is complex and our future is no where near perfect. Until the day every single queer person can wake up without the fear of being harassed, beaten or abused for being who they are then we still need Pride.”
‘It shows people the LGBTQ+ community is still here’
“It also has an external purpose, in terms of showing people who are not part of the LGBT+ community that we are here, there’s a lot of us and we all really, really care about each other.”
‘Pride events help me find LGBTQ+ people I can connect to’
“It matters because it allows people to look at something that lets them feel seen. For a young queer person who maybe hasn’t met a lot of people like them, or doesn’t quite know where they could fit in the community yet, having an event like Pride that showcases all the different range of LGBT+ people, and identities, ensures they have something to look at that can help them find their place, or feel a bit more included.
“I know Pride events that I see in the media help me to find more LGBT+ people that share things in common with me, that I can feel connected to, which helps me feel at home properly in the community.”
‘There’s still a massive problem with the bullying of queer kids’
“I was shocked when my younger cousin (from Hackney which is supposedly one of the most liberal places you can be in the UK) said to me ‘I’m not gay, but if I was, I definitely wouldn’t say I was. I’d get KILLED at school.’ Some people think it’s all okay now, and the younger generation are completely cool with everything – but there’s still a massive problem with the bullying of queer kids, and the impact this has on their identity and Pride in themselves throughout life is catastrophic.”
‘We need to remember Pride was a riot’
“Pride gives queer people and allies a space to be unapologetically themselves and builds a stronger sense of community although we need to remember that Pride was a riot and by continuing to hold these events we are allowing space for even more individuals yo explore their identity and also show those who discriminate that we are not going anywhere. We’re going to be stronger, louder and prouder.”