What does pride month mean to me?
Pride can have so many meanings to so many people, but to me it's a celebration of love, happiness and freedom.
Pride allows us to celebrate ourselves without fear, to speak out for those still oppressed and those who are forced into hiding by society. Pride says it is okay to be who you are, to be your true self and to not change yourself to fit into the “norm”, whatever that is. To wake up in the morning and feel like you don’t have to hide behind a mask.
Unfortunately there are still millions of people in this world who will be unable to understand the need for Pride, usually those not in danger of persecution for falling in love, a right seemingly reserved for heterosexuals. Many of us in the community still experience hate on a daily basis, and Pride offers us the opportunity to educate people, to help them understand that we are all humans who deserve to be treated equally, with respect.
LGBTQIA+ rights have grown so much over the years, thanks to the amazing work by activists such as Marsha P. Johnson, Harvey Milk and Lisa Power. However, like many other minorities, there is such a long way to go: we are still lacking in basic human rights, to be free to love unconditionally without judgment, or even death. In many countries, it is still illegal to be part of this community. I cannot wrap my head around the idea that a government feels they have the right to dictate peoples’ ability to be their authentic selves, by forcing them to bury their sexuality deep down for fear of being legally detained or killed for the truth.
What also makes me feel depressed about the state of our rights, is that being in a well developed Western country like the UK, and it being bloody 2021 (get with the times, losers) still doesn’t mean it is safe to be yourself. Homophobia and hate crimes against members of the whole community are still rife here, and often make the news.
One of many stories I could mention is that of Tommy Barwicks, a 50yr old man from the UK.
He was attacked from behind, for no reason other than being gay. He was left partially paralysed by his brutal attackers, needing round the clock care - not to mention sleepless nights reliving the horrible experience over and over again. "I thought I was going to die," he said in an interview with the BBC, and they unfortunately never caught the cowards that did this to him.
Stories like this haunt me, knowing that one day it could happen to me, anywhere, any time. As much as things like this make me scared to go out and make me fearful to be myself, we cannot let them win. I am lucky enough that with support from my friends, family, partner and of course community, I am able to push past these fears to be out, proud and unapologetic. Not everyone is so lucky, but with Pride being such an inclusive, fun, welcoming and safe environment it gives people who might not be so active in the community out of fear, the chance to stand in solidarity with their metaphorical family, no longer part of the minority. Pride offers a huge, fun confidence boost for us, and allows us a safe way to protest against hate so that stories like this become part of history, and not the present.
Coming into this job as Assistant Manager at Attic, I was nervous and scared. I had never worked in a male orientated environment. Not just the brewers and the staff but in an enviroment where cis, heterosexual men are the main customer base. Men who are maybe prejudiced towards people like me. I was cautious about how they would respond to me, whether it would be awkward, or if they would abuse me, or just wouldn’t listen to me as an authoritative figure.
I was anxious to think that all it would take was one person to be too drunk, express their hate to me or for them to react badly to me asking them to leave, and I could end up like Tommy.
However that is not the case here at Attic.
I have never once felt that my sexuality has impacted the way I am approached at work by colleagues and customers alike. They all take me for who I am, and what I am is a pretty, camp gay boy who wears short shorts in the summer and speaks in a sassy yorkshire accent!
Not all people like me have the privilege to work in such a loving, safe and supportive environment, where co-workers and customers make me feel so at ease. Through spreading awareness at Pride, we continue to strive to make this sort of workplace a nationwide goal for all.
Pride in unity. Pride is unity.
Now let's go have a pint bab.
Your friendly yorkshire gay.