Pride can bring with it a plethora of feelings as you navigate through the month as an LGBTQ+ person. Generally, it’s assumed to be a time of joy, exacerbated by shop fronts splashed with rainbow flags, parades and festivals. However, it’s not quite as simple as that. While we might see rainbow flags left, right and centre, this year in particular it’s harder to focus on celebration and more important to bring to light the areas where LGBTQ+ rights are currently being eroded across the UK – and why pride must remain a protest as well as a party.
Last month, for #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, the Mental Health Foundation launched a report focusing on the week’s theme: loneliness. The report is quick to stipulate a number of ‘risk factors’ that can increase chances of severe and lasting loneliness – and one of these is being LGBTQ+. The pandemic isolating many people from their communities and leaving closeted LGBTQ+ people in potentially unsafe familial environments during lockdown has led to an increase in LGBTQ+ people struggling with their mental health.
So now we come into another Pride month where that recent loneliness is still at the forefront of many people’s experiences alongside a continuing fear of the future. Throughout the UK, there is growing stigma towards LGBTQ+ people, which was further proven in May as the government debated whether or not to make non-binary a legal gender , where Miriam Cates, Conservative MP, claimed that the rise in young people identifying as trans and non-binary was due to “indoctrination”. Writing from personal experience, if you’re already struggling with isolation due your identity, there is little as discouraging as seeing the people who are supposed to keep you safe: your government, friends, family relaying news stories that threaten your fundamental right to live.
As much as we’ll be brushing down our most glittery outfits at some point over June (and again in August for Manchester!), we have a priority as a community and as allies to put these prevailing issues first. It’s not enough for companies to slap a rainbow sticker on things and call themselves allies anymore. It can’t be that people participate in the celebration of pride on one hand, without acknowledging the changes that need to be made on the other. We’re sure that this month will see many fickle posts on social media as businesses align themselves with the LGBTQ+ community for a single month before returning to noticeable silence for the rest of the year. There’s a need for proactive change throughout the UK to ensure our rights get better and continue to protect vulnerable people who need them the most.
This Pride we’re hoping for more togetherness. More protest. More allyship. If you’re someone who has felt particularly isolated throughout the pandemic, we wanted to share some useful links from our friends at the LGBT Foundation that might help you to find the community you’re looking for in Manchester. Slide to see them.
If you’re looking for ways that you might engage more politically throughout Pride, we’ve written about some of the causes we’re passionate about here.
We’re hopeful for a better future. One where we can truly celebrate Pride; remember and commemorate the incredible people who have come before us with blazing passion for LGBTQ+ rights. But right now, we’re also ready to get our work boots on, roll up our sleeves and get back to making change.