When we think of Pride, we often think of the celebrations that surround being proud of diversity and promoting equality within the community. FANTASTIC! What we must not forget, however, are the reasons why we want to raise awareness of these issues and continue with our crucial campaigns.
This is why we are excited to be hosting a Pink Picnic on the 24th July. Come down to Rivermead, Reading, for a lazy Sunday afternoon picnic where the aim of the day is to relax, be yourself, make some new friends and enjoy those picnic treats.
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As a charity which prides itself of supporting and giving a voice to everyone in the LGBT community, we have decided to create a family orientated event before the run up to Pride. This will not only give Reading Pride an opportunity to speak directly to those of you who are affected by discrimination and bullying, but we will also endeavour to have a better understanding of how we can promote diversity around issues that affect you (something which is often ignored around the stereotypical pride image). Equally as important however, the picnic creates a perfect arena to just be yourself, have some fun and meet other LGBT families.
LGBT families can often be discriminated against; both the parents and children. Same-sex couples frequently face scrutiny over the lack of a mother or father figure when bringing up a child and 43% of people think that same-sex couples simply cannot be as good at parenting as heterosexual couples (Barnardos), despite same sex parents having the same legal rights to parenthood as everyone else. Children also face discrimination and bullying in school because they have two mums or dads and an estimated 2,725 people call ChildLine each year to talk about sexual orientation, homophobia or homophobic bullying . The Centre for Family and Research at the University of Cambridge conducted interviews with 82 children and young people with LGBT parents for Stonewall in 2010, which they published in their paper, 'Different Families: The experience of children with lesbian and gay parents'. They make for an interesting read;
Holly 19, 'My lecturer said if you haven't got a maternal and paternal figure together then you're going to be a bit messed up, basically... and I just thought...no! no! I mean i understand what people say like it's important to have...a male figure...and yeah I had male figures, not particularly paternalistic, but I had male figures. I don't think I'm screwed up and i just think it's funny when people say that because I'm like well, I'm evidence that you're not like that at all.'
Lewis 7, Interviewer: Do you think your family is like other peoples' families, or a bit different? Lewis: ...I donâ€™t really get that...I think they are all different. Lewis explains, for example, that his friend Joey's family is different because it is smaller as there are only four of them and that his friend Ben has a different family because he has a sister and a dog.
Stonewall also concludes from their study that of all of the children they interviewed, all of them said that other people assumed they had a worse upbringing because they had different parents, but that every child in their own opinion said that this wasn't the case.
These interviews give a fascinating insight into the living, breathing experiences, thought processes and attitudes of the children who live with same-sex parents and highlight that it is the prejudices of others thatccause them far more distress than their own personal or family characteristics; a notion that can be applied to the entire LGBT community and proves same-sex couples can be just as good as heterosexual parents.
Homophobia within the home is also a silent threat. People suffer abuse and bullying at the hands of family members and don't always feel like they can speak out about their pain. Coming to terms with your sexuality is one thing, but preparing and dealing with the reactions of those closest to you is quite another; there is no way to guarantee their response will be a positive one...
'Out of 119 adults interviewed that were bullied at school, 40% had attempted suicide on at least one occasion. 30% had attempted suicide on more than one occasion.' (Stonewall)
'Almost 1 in 5 lesbian and gay people have experienced bullying from their colleagues.' (Stonewall)
These are just two of the many facts and figures you can find from surveys carried out by Stonewall and ChildLine to establish and raise awareness of how widespread homophobic bullying is. However when it comes to homophobia in the home itâ€™s a research vacuum, and little can be found on the issue in terms of both specific support networks and research.
For us at Reading Pride, all of these issues are a serious concern and it is something we want to raise awareness of. So come down to Rivermead on the 24th July to help Reading Pride help your community. Everyone is welcome â€“ children, teenagers, adults, friends, loved ones, and even your dog!
We look forward to seeing you...go on, you know you canâ€™t resist a bit of frisby and a Mr Whippy!