As Pride season comes to a close, I think it’s important to take a look at why Pride is as important as ever.
Every year as Pride season approaches, I think we all see and hear some form of negativity questioning why we still have these events. Questions that come from outside and within our own community.
Pride matters because it’s not always obvious that the world is built around straight privilege. A man can kiss his girlfriend in public without any consequence, but a gay male couple could be asked to leave a supermarket simply for holding hands.
Pride was born from our community being attacked, outlawed and discriminated against. But just because laws have changed on paper, that doesn’t automatically make us equal. Nor does it change the fact there are people who’d rather we just weren’t here.
But how equal are we? There are still over 70 countries where homosexuality is illegal, some punishable by death.
Even on our own doorsteps, we don’t always realise how many hate crimes are going on in the UK With over 5,000 reported between 2014 and 2015, and a further estimated 35,000 unreported. Crimes against the LGBT+ community are going up, not down.
I personally know six gay men who have been violently attacked in the last year alone, leaving them with serious injuries. And for what? Being themselves?
Some people may just see Pride as an excuse to party, and why not? It wasn’t so long ago we couldn’t be as open as we are, even in the UK We all attend the events for very different reasons. Attacking each other about how we celebrate doesn’t do anyone any good.
It’s important to be seen as proud members of our own community, as brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, husbands and wives. Not just the stereotypical carbon copies of who they think we are.
Let’s not forget that rights being gained around the world like equal marriage, surrogacy or adoption are partly down to Pride events. Showing the world, we’re stronger together, that we won’t be treated like second class citizens and that we deserve to be fully equal in every way.
Pride events are a chance for community groups to come together, in a unique setting and stand side by side, celebrating our freedom. It’s a chance to showcase our diverse world to those who may not always get the opportunity to see every colour of the rainbow and all that support.
Following the tragic events in Orlando earlier this year, I think the world received a sizeable wake-up call that there is still a very real hatred for our community. A man came into our community and killed 49 people, all because of their sexuality.
There are gay men being executed by ISIS, activists being arrested and Pride parades being blocked. There is still so much hatred for our community, we owe it to each and every one of them to stand proud and fight for their rights. A luxury they don’t have.
In recent years many people have expressed their disappointment and anger at how commercial Pride events can be. But the beauty of these events, is they are our events. We ALL have the chance to get involved, whether it be going to open meetings and voicing that opinion, volunteering or taking part in the festivities.
Pride belongs to us all and if you have an issue with something, instead of just verbally attacking it, try and do something about it. The events are still very much a hub of people coming together for the greater good.
We have the opportunity to stand against homophobia in Pride season and beyond. We have the right thousands of our LGBT brothers and sisters around the world don’t, to be able to take to the streets and celebrate. It’s not just a celebration though, it’s out chance to shout from the rooftops that we are proud, we deserve to love, marry and live our lives like anyone else. To be ourselves, unique, open and honest.
It’s time we started treating each other with the respect we all crave and stop tearing each other apart. We have enough negativity coming from outside of our community, we should have to deal with it coming from within as well.
Celebrate each other, support one another and help create, sustain and be a part of the community so many people have fought incredibly hard to provide. Something we all take for granted all too often.
So if you’re still questioning why we still have Pride in 2016, I urge you; look at some of the events happening every day around the world. Go to your local Pride meetings, go out into your community, and get more involved. Learn more about the reasons behind it all, don’t just sit and judge, because that’s exactly what we’re fighting… Judgement.
Follow Tom Knight on Twitter – @tj_knight