Summer is Pride season. And every Pride season, people ask what the point of Pride is. Why do LGBTQ people need Pride events? What is accomplished by Pride? And will Pride always be needed?
Often these questions are asked by someone who then adds, "I don't mind LGBTQ people; I just don't see why they have to be out and proud about it." And although this in itself demonstrates the need for Pride, the questions are worth discussing nonetheless.
Why is Pride important and beneficial? Well, every day is a Pride day for straight people and cisgendered people and others who are part of the norm in terms of sexuality and gender. Every day, those people can confidently go about their lives, being who they are at work and in their families, marrying those they love, expecting and receiving equal rights. For many LGBTQ people, however, that's simply not the case.
Due to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, LGBTQ people do not enjoy full acceptance and equal rights in the UK (or, indeed, in most countries in the world). Pride is thus an opportunity to be openly out, to celebrate human sexuality and gender in all its diversity, and to come together to fight for equal rights.
Pride is a day when a male-male couple or female-female couple who would ordinarily be frightened of holding hands when walking down the street can actually touch one another and show their affection in public. Perhaps doing so at Pride will inspire them to do so in the future as well.
Pride is a day when children raised by LGBTQ parents can meet others like them and can be reminded that it's not actually such a unique or unusual position to be in and that their family goes through many of the same trials and has the same joys and the same love as any straight family.
Pride is a day when transgender people can dress or act or present however they like without having to fear mockery or humiliation.
Pride is a day when bisexuals, asexuals, genderqueers, sadists, masochists, masters, slaves, and other queer types can feel accepted without having to explain or defend who they are and what their preferences are.
Pride is a day when LGBTQ folks discuss what still needs to be done in the campaign for equality and when they can begin talking about plans to make that happen.
It's just a shame that Pride is only a day a year. But the ramifications of Pride events stretch throughout the year. We make new friends and allies at Pride, we form committees, and we get fresh ideas for how to approach the problems facing our specific communities and society as a whole. So Pride has both short-term and long-term benefits.
I hope there will be a day when Pride events are no longer needed. I think this is far in the future, but I believe that there will eventually come a time when we don't have to define ourselves or others based on gender and sexuality (and I hope we wouldn't use race, religion, appearance, ability, etc either anymore). In this utopian time, we will all have equal rights, and we will all feel accepted and appreciated by society. But that time has not yet come.
So that's why on Saturday (28 July), you'll find me at Norwich Pride. I'll be giving a talk on tackling homophobia in schools by using literature and I'll be marching in the parade with my partner and our friends and I'll be admiring the performances, checking out the displays, and making new connections. I'll be doing all that because society still has very far to go in terms of equality. We therefore need Pride and I'll be proud to participate in it.
So straight allies and friends, swallow your own pride and come show your support for the LGBTQ community by attending Pride events. And LGBTQ friends, show some pride in yourselves and come to Pride. It's one step towards making a more accepting world.
Follow B.J. Epstein on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bjepstein