With Reading Pride entering its 9th year, and only a few weeks away, I’ve been approached to write an article and began wondering exactly where to start. They always say you should write what you know about and what you are passionate about, and so I’ve decided to stick to those principles and briefly discuss our history.
When I was 18, I wasn’t remotely politically minded, but after beginning my university studies I was emerged into a whole world of political activism, not only by my degree but by people I met at university. These series of events pretty much blew my mind, and some of the people I’ve met along the way in life have equally blown my mind. I believe in some ways, the LGBT community have lost their way in remembering our history, and most recent history of the 20th century.
For many, Pride is a time where you go out with friends, drink, enjoy yourself and party into the early hours, but I sometimes wonder if they realise what Pride really means? Now, excuse me for a second whilst I deliver an extremely brief history lesson. The 28th of June 1969, is and always should be a landmark date within our history. It was on this day that the Stonewall Riots broke out due to continuous persecution of LGBT people at the hands of the police in New York City. Enough was enough and these people stood up and made their voices heard loud and clear. Marching, chanting, and generally making themselves visible and taking charge of the situation before them – history lesson over.
For me, this is the main principle factor and backbone of what pride should be. With so much commercialisation over the years, Pride can be seen by many as a basis of cashing in. We seem to not remember, nor reflect and give thanks to these brave people who slowly helped shape the way we live today.
We, as a community have so much to be proud of, and yet have still much more to fight for. There are still reports of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, there are issues around same sex marriage, and education still is not on par as it should be. Pride is the time where we should be proud and enjoy ourselves, and yet it is the perfect time to reinforce that there are still issues that we face, and should make the most of using the public spotlight to our advantage and make a stand. Pride should be and really needs to be a platform of expression, a platform to shout loud, and a platform to assert the fact that although we are a community, we are part of the wider and more general community and deserve the same rights and privileges and should never settle for anything less.
To all those attending Reading Pride this year, I wish you all a great time, enjoy yourselves and maybe spare a thought for those who fought and inspired such an event to even exist.