It still happens. Regardless of my day job. Regardless of my night job. Regardless of my life, my wife, my sexuality, my subtle lesbian looks (yeah right!). I still get asked why we still need Pride.
Today The Guardian reported on Stevie-Jade Hardy’s study LGB&T Crime Reporting: Identifying Barriers and Solutions on rural LGBT hate crime in the UK. Figures stated that in 2012-13 “35,000 cases of hate crime against LGBT people went unreported each year [with just] 4,267 incidents … recorded by police”. Whilst The Crime Survey for England and Wales showed “39,000 homophobic hate incidents over the same period”.
Figures hard to read. Figures that shock. Figures that seem so ill at ease with our supposedly tolerant nation, happy to support equal marriage and LGBTQI rights. Behind the headlines of equality is the daily reality of hatred and it’s a hatred that we need to challenge.
Which is why we still need Pride. Somewhere, some day this summer a LGBTQI person will attend their first Pride. Having saved for that coach ticket or hitched a ride, they will make their way to a Pride celebration for the first time. Be amongst others like them for the first time. Talk, dance and maybe even hook up with someone like them for the first time. And although for many of us it’s easy to forget that moment of belonging, of relief, of inner strength we once felt when we attended our first ever Pride, we must not.
We must keep on keeping Pride alive. The campaigning, the celebrating, the community. Because the isolated, the young, the bullied, the hated need to feel they belong. Need a place they can head to, need a place they can call home, if only for one day. They need a place they can feel proud of who they are. And we can make that happen together. If we continue to make Pride matter.