This is why we need Pride now more than ever
One in five LGBTQ+ individuals have experienced a hate crime in the last 12 months in the UK
After a gruelling year of lockdowns, Pride in London announced some good news on Twitter: London Pride will now be happening on the 11th September 2021.
Despite the delay, the organisation promises to ensure a Covid-safe parade. Organisers Michael Salter-Church and Alison Camp have stated that they will “continue to monitor and adhere to the necessary health guidance,” and London Pride will be back in full swing.
This uplifting information has rallied a largely positive response from the LGBTQ+ community and for good reason. After everything that’s happened this year, we need Pride more than ever.
We need a safe space
A study conducted at UCL and the University of Sussex examined the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the members of the LGBTQ+ community, hoping to find whether the community’s mental health had been affected by the pandemic. The results of this study were shocking: 69 per cent of participants experienced depressive symptoms, and this number rose to 90 per cent if they also faced homophobia or transphobia.
Additionally, the pandemic has forced many to return home, and a third of LGBTQ+ individuals have reported experiencing discrimination in their home environments. This led to a total of 10 per cent of LGBTQ+ individuals feeling unsafe in their own homes.
The LGBTQ+ community is a primary source of support and connection for countless members, and being forced to re-enter the closet leads to drastic mental health crises.
The need for a space in which gender and sexuality are celebrated has never been more important.
We need to re-centre the focus of Pride back to the community
In recent years, many corporations have found it profitable to capitalise on Pride by producing merchandise thoughtlessly stamped with the rainbow flag. However, these corporations do not actively strive to support or aid the LGBTQ+ community in any way.
Profits go entirely to the corporation in most cases and no effort is made to fund charities and other groups supporting LGBTQ+ individuals from their takings.
Pride Month has become a playing field for companies and brands to shallowly signal their support for the community without taking any true action. Often, this leaves many members of the LGBTQ+ community feeling disheartened to see how Pride has devolved from riots and direct political action to simply purchasing a rainbow shirt.
But, by bringing together an entire community, London Pride reminds us that true pride extends beyond a superficial capitalist gesture because, let’s face it, the gimmicky rainbow hashtags on Instagram aren’t exactly doing much.
Pride promotes the self-establishment, dignity, and visibility of the LGBTQ+ community. It reminds the world that we are here and that we are still fighting for the equality and safety of all members of the community. As we celebrate, we remember the countless individuals who fought for LGBTQ+ rights and stood up against a system designed to crush them — and they still won.
We need to commemorate Stonewall
Throughout history, LGBTQ+ individuals have remained one of the most marginalised groups. London Pride is a celebration of how far we’ve come. Not only does Pride honour the LGBTQ+ community, but it also reminds us of its intersectionality. Of course, within the community there are different challenges, however the original Pride Month of June stands to acknowledge the 1969 Stonewall riots.
In 1969, when queerness was a punishable offence, four plain-clothed officers entered the Stonewall Inn to gather visual evidence of “homosexual acts.” Police stormed the bar at 1:20am on June 28th and attempted to block the exit of all 205 bar patrons.
Police then ordered the patrons of the bar to undress to verify whether they were dressed according to their assigned gender at birth. Once people had been let out of the bar, instead of leaving, a crowd congregated at its entrance, effectively barricading the police into the inn.
Marsha P. Johnson, a trans black woman, threw the first brick at the Stonewall Inn, reminding us that Pride must always remain political and intersectional; the entire community cannot truly be liberated until racism, ableism and sexism and all other forms of oppression also end.
Pride Month and London Pride itself reiterate that Pride is not only a celebration but a protest against the violent oppression that the community has faced in the past. In numbers, we find the strength to speak out against current injustices and the further marginalisation of the LGBTQ+ community.
We need to acknowledge the struggle that continues
Although the LGBTQ+ community has made so much progress, it still remains marginalised and continues to face discrimination.
According to Stonewall UK, an NGO that campaigns for equality, one in five LGBTQ+ individuals have experienced a hate crime in the last 12 months within the UK. This statistic rises to two in five when specifically focusing on trans people. The most terrifying statistic is that four in five of these incidents go entirely unreported to authorities, with younger LGBTQ+ individuals being more hesitant to go to the police.
In addition to hate crime, the LGBTQ+ community faces microaggression and discrimination on the daily. Despite the legality of queerness, there is a shocking amount of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in the UK. Trans people are regularly denied hormone therapy due to an extremely lengthy “evaluative process” in which they are psychoanalysed about their identity for up to six months. Legally, children under 16 are not considered old enough to give “informed consent” for hormone therapy, regardless of their gender identity.
Although the community is technically considered equal on paper, there are countless of legal blockades that prevent the LGBTQ+ community from having equal rights. London Pride reminds us that we are still rallying together for a cause and making a stand against all the hate that the community still faces.
There are bills that need to be passed, laws that need to be made to guarantee the safety of the community, and an incredible amount of work must be done to eradicate anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment.
But we don’t have to wait till September to show our support
Although Pride has been delayed, there is much that can be done this June.
Check on your LGBTQ+ friends, especially if they’ve returned home to an environment in which they feel unwelcome or unsafe. Research the history of Pride, and its ground-breaking importance in the push for equal rights. Learn about intersectionality and the discrimination that queer people of colour (QPOC) are subjected to.
Donate to charities that support and uplift the community. If you are an ally, research how best you can support the community. Learn about the language that should be used when addressing the LGBTQ+ community. Each year shows new promise for the community, and it will all culminate in a celebration in September, one in which the community is finally reunited after a gruelling pandemic.
Lastly, send your best wishes to those who do not feel safe enough in their situation to openly attend London Pride – they need your support.