Recently when out campaigning, someone asked me “if the LGBT community still needs Pride” as to quote “we’re pretty much equal now in the UK”.
That the question came from an openly gay man was surprise enough, but what really threw me was his absolute conviction that the LGBT community have achieved equality.
Of course I can’t deny that things have come a long way since my first Pride in 1993 when I marched with 50,000 others through a sometimes hostile London crowd, holding my girlfriends’ hand and proclaiming myself “Out and Proud”. Now “everyone wants to come to our party” and there is very little open hostility, as what was originally a political protest has become an open invitation to a fun filled carnival
We’ve certainly made progress having seen a raft of legislation introduced in the last twenty years offering equality in relation to age of consent, fostering and adoption, IVF, changing our gender, serving openly in the Military, Police and Politics and entering into Civil Partnerships to name but a few, but as the recent debate on the proposed introduction of Gay Marriage has shown we’re not there just yet.
Even with legislation in place, acceptance remains an issue as homophobic attitudes and bullying remain in many parts of society; We are all too often invisible in society with the assumption usually being we’re straight until proven otherwise and we are still fighting against stereotypes and struggling to identify positive LGBT role models in significant numbers.
Yes we’ve made great progress but must not forget the part played by those within the LGBT community who fought for Pride and worked on our behalf to raise awareness of our needs and demanded our equality.
Pride continues to play a vital role in the UK and rather than being dismissed as irrelevant should be seen as a beacon of strength and hope not just for future generations of LGBT people here, but for those throughout the world fighting against oppression and offering them the support and encouragement they need to find a voice and inspiration.
Chaun Wilson is an elected member of
Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party Executive and
LGBT & Equalities Representative