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What a year it’s been, and it’s only June! It’s been an interesting year, a challenging year and one that has been quite complex as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Now is normally the time to be gearing up to join the University’s slot in Pride London parade, finalising our matching t-shirts and trying to work out where on earth our place is in the thronging start of Pride. This year I can’t even imagine walking down Regent Street with hundreds of thousands of people cheering, dancing and waving, I haven’t even seen central London since lockdown began.
Not only have Pride’s been cancelled/moved online, but there’s been the interesting discussions of who “owns” the rainbow, is it for “us” or the NHS – that’s been an unexpected twist in the narrative here in the UK. But on top of all that, the shocking events in the US and the necessary and urgent global ripples of that have meant that June, normally so easily dominated by Pride, is vying for attention in a world of a global pandemic and where fellow minorities are shouting to be heard.
I find myself just asking myself a lot of questions and not coming to many concrete answers:
Pride for me has always been inspirational. I’ve been lucky enough to see dozens of prides across England, from tiny towns to big cities, each one special, unique and positive, full of hope. I’m not that old in the grand scheme of things (28) but it’s incredible to me how young some people coming to Prides are these days, a generation who have grown up in this country emboldened by a world of social media that says they have the right to demand to be who they are and that they can often find a supportive online family or community regardless of if one exists physically for them. In our lockdown reality, watching people claiming and carving accessible digital spaces this pride month has been inspiring, seeing the ways the community has pulled together and the amazing variety of activity that’s sprung up to fill the void of our traditional queer spaces.
So what does all this mean for me? Well, I’m a little lost if I’m being honest. In my job I’m being pulled in every direction, with finding a way to keep our pride spirit alive competing, and not always winning, with every other priority this month! But personally, I am sort of forgetting about Pride as an event or trying to recreate that “pride spirit.” Instead, I’m going back to basics. I’m going to try embracing the concept of Pride as a movement, allowing myself the chance to learn, listen and, if I can, amplify the voices from within and beyond the community to remind people that, in the pastry-based words of an anonymous person - “Equal rights for others does not mean less rights for you. It’s not pie!”
Project Manager (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion & OD)
London South Bank University