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Why we still need LGBT+ Pride

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We're once more in that wonderful time of year in the UK packed with (hopefully) sunlit celebrations. And no, I don’t mean festival season: I mean Pride. Forget Glastonbury, R&L and the like; it is time for Pride.

Unfortunately, unlike these major summer events, Pride is not necessarily at the forefront of the mainstream media's consideration. Understandably media coverage contributes to the frequency of discussion but, overall, this indicates a wider issue: we currently do not pay as much attention to Pride’s purpose as we should do.

Over the past few weeks I have become increasingly excited by upcoming Pride celebrations. Seeing the different regional charities and organisers announcing musical headliners, parades and vigils is incredibly encouraging, especially as anticipation increases for prospective attendees of all sexualities and identities. It is incredibly positive to witness individuals coming together not only for entertainment, but also to unapologetically support the LGBT+ community’s social visibility, whether this be at the large-scale Pride in London or Manchester Pride events, or more localised merriments across the UK. Seeing such unison is incredibly progressive but, as ever, there are some instances where such sentiments are not shared.

Despite the underlying positivity scenting the air of anticipation for the nationwide Pride events (from a diverse range of supporters), over the past few weeks I have unfortunately heard some less-than-positive thoughts towards the events. Why do we still need Pride? But we are all equal now, aren’t we? I don’t like it because it’s too in your face, are all, sadly, the sort of responses I have heard and read during the build-up to the LGBT+ community’s summertime celebrations, despite the positivity, excitement and support that exists.

Regardless of how the speakers of such remarks self-identify, the questions share one factor in common: they do not consider the purpose and essence of Pride. Of course everyone is equal but, as we have regularly come to see, this is sadly not a socially unanimous perspective.

Pride is an unapologetic celebration. Pride is an inclusive, vibrant and accepting wonderland for all who strive towards the complete social acceptance and understanding of the LGBT+ community, as well as embracing sexuality as a broad spectrum. So why does it matter if the celebrations are flamboyant? Why is it a concern if it is ‘in your face’? That is partially the point, even though it is also not entirely the whole case. 

Where is Straight Pride? is also a question I have sadly heard and read. Look around and you will find heterosexual pride everywhere: in the celebrity weddings in glossy magazines; in a soap opera’s scandalous romantic storyline; in the standard pop song glorifying the happy ever after. Generally the LGBT+ presence remains side-lined, as the wedged-in sub-plot to the main narrative, or the clichéd, comical or flamboyant best friend. Even today representation is lacking the reality of identifying as an LGBT+ individual with caricatures replacing humans, and this lack of exposure is part of what drives Pride. Pride is brilliant for its approach to celebration, its refusal to accept complete categorisation. Of course it holds the expected energetic celebrations, but also quieter and sincere events (such as candlelit events and vigils) which are at its core. Those who simply see Pride entirely as a rainbow explosion of jollity are quite mistaken, even more so if they cannot comprehend why Pride is (in some aspects) colourful.

Pride is, in some ways, loud and proud because for too long the LGBT+ community has not been heard. It is, in some aspects, bright because it still fights to be completely noticed, whilst embracing shadows as it remembers and respects those taken by prejudice and inequality. Pride is equally about fun and remembrance; celebrating progress whilst acknowledging an ongoing struggle. And it is true that there is still a long way to go: despite the massive step forward of the nationwide legalisation of same-sex marriage across the USA, around 75 countries worldwide still criminalise homosexuality. Closer to home, Liverpool Pride just last week announced the cancellation of its Pier Head events due to a lack of funding, but remains steadfast by still scheduling its free parades and vigils.

Despite attracting a range of supporters, it is still a sad fact that Pride is not always prioritised. As a proud member of the LGBT+ community, I adore Pride’s purpose and anticipate the possibility of attending an event which not only accepts my identity, but also celebrates it. Pride’s beauty is its intended inclusiveness; regardless of your self-identification or sexuality, you can support the fight for equality. The LGBT+ community and its allies have come a long way recently, but there are still obstacles to overcome. Still Pride’s existence is not completely understood, or is simply seen as flamboyancy and eccentricity, and this is one of several reasons why it exists. These are the reasons why Pride still works towards showing that everyone and everything is more than just black and white, but instead part of a spectrum of beautiful colours. Pride is paving the way to a future of unified understanding which, if given more publicity, support and attention, could hopefully become an achievable reality.

LGBT+ is an acronym representing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, non-binary and all identities supported by the community. ‘Pride’ in this case encapsulates both the wider movement of LGBT+ Pride and regional celebrations.

For advice or help, LGBT+ youth can visit the It Gets Better project or The Trevor Project.

For figures on the criminalisation of homosexuality, you can visit the BBC's collection of figures or the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association's May 2015 report.

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