On Saturday June 28, 1969 a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich village of Manhattan, New York City, prompted protests by the Gay community. A year later Chicago Gay Liberation organised a march for the LGBT community to protest treatment of the minorities within the LGBTQ+ community and to also show pride in how they identified.
Since this first march, Gay Pride events have been held all over the World, allowing the LGBTQ+ community to show pride in their identity, but also to protest the prejudice still being shown against members of our community.
Yet every year I read tweets or Facebook posts asking why we need a Pride march if there isn’t a straight march, or saying how they wish in 2019 we didn’t need a Pride event, as we have equal marriage. This always saddens me as I honestly hope Pride events exist forever more, as they are a vital space for the LGBTQ+ community to voice their pride in their community and also protest any issues still affecting the community in the UK and around the world.
Last year Clara and I experienced the worst homophobic incident we had ever experienced. A woman under the influence of alcohol took it upon herself to shout vile homophobic slurs, threaten violence and behaved physically threatening. All whilst our son was in our company. It really shook us both up. It even effected my mental health to an extent as my anxiety around protecting my family increased. We both feel the authorities that dealt with the situation failed us somewhat, as a Hate Crime is such a serious incident that requires serious action, but we’ve had to finally put it behind us and use it as a learning tool. Which is sad that we, the targets of the attack will probably learn more from it that anyone else involved.
Flash forward to this year and our son encountered his first direct encounter with homophobia. Whilst purchasing two Mother’s Day gifts at his school’s Mother’s Day pop up gift shop, he was subjected to comments from two other pupils. He was told that the Bible doesn’t allow two mums and that the Bible said only a man can have a woman and then told it was illegal to have two mums. What was even more shocking was that these children were from his year, 7 year olds, already sharing learned homophobia. In this situation it was dealt with brilliantly. His teacher addressed the whole class about people having different families, without directly referring to our son or isolating him. I even made a visit to see his teacher to thank her for how well she handled the situation.
I have heard so many stories of Homophobia and Trans-phobia from the young people I work with at the LGBTQ youth group I volunteer at. Which shows that even in 2019 we have young people experiencing abuse from young people that are full of hate and ready to express it to those not identifying how they expect the masses to identify. So much of this hate is learned at home, gained from friends, seen on social media.
And we ALL need to work together to stamp it out.
More often than not Gay Pride is a place for those from the LGBTQ community to be in a safe space with others they identify with, to show the world we exist. Pride is so much more than just a glittery fabulous party. It is a message, a promise that we will continue to stand against hate.