Pride is now celebrated throughout the year, but its origins are in the raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York on 28th June 1969.
The bar was frequented by some of the poorest and most marginalised people in the queer community – their stand against brutality and harassment, however, led to the modern LGBT+ movement.
Those involved would probably not recognise many of the modern LGBT+ pride events, sponsored by banks and with the police now marching in the Parade. However, the LGBT+ community is still full of people who are often rejected and attacked for being who they are, or for expressing themselves in ways that feel right, or for loving who they love.
It is true that LGBT+ rights have moved on enormously (in most western countries) over the last 50 years. It is also true that many Pride events have become bigger, less subversive and more commercial with time. However, Pride events still matter. Pride events — specifically Pride parades — are about visibility and creating a sense of belonging for people who may still often feel excluded. It’s about giving hope to people who may feel that life will never get better. The single biggest political act any LGBT+ person can do is to come out and be visible – which means no matter how commercial they become, Pride Parades do still count.
Around the world, LGBT people face the death penalty and state-sponsored violence and abuse. In the UK we have seen an increase in homophobic and transphobic hate crime and many LGBT people still hide their sexuality at work. Away from ‘safe spaces’ few same-sex couples feel comfortable with public displays of affection. Suicide rates for LGBT+ youth are three times that of their straight colleagues.
Pride events provide a place of safety and acceptance – proof that people like them are loved exactly as they are, and that being queer isn’t synonymous with being alone.
Pride is also a celebration of the victories won and recognition of those who helped create legal equality and social justice for LGBT+ people – not just the high profile campaigners, but the boy who came out at school, the teacher who refused to hide in the closet or the parents who champion the rights of their queer kids. While the fight still goes on today, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the time to celebrate the rights won – and above all Pride Parades are a celebration of the right to love.
– Fat Beehive is a proud sponsor of Croydon Pride, a UK-registered charity that stages the annual Croydon PrideFest event and numerous other events across south London. The event is now in its fourth year, is expected to attract 10,000 people this year and is striving to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible.