THE BLOG

We Need Pride

15/07/2014 11:00 BST | Updated 12/09/2014 10:59 BST

Pride.

The torrential rain ran down the rainbow cheeks of the crowd, transforming everyone into a big messy sludge of colour. Every footstep was followed by a squelch in my soggy once white, not weather appropriate, Converse.

As I marched I felt a huge sense of history on my shoulders (No, not just my ageing rucksack falling apart). Fresh in my memory, one I couldn't forget, the film I'd seen just days before. 'Pride' - a witty, seemingly realistic documentation of the activist group 'Lesbian and Gays support the Miners' of the 1980s in Thatcher's Britain.

As my socks soaked into the puddles beneath me, I could hear the liberating heartfelt words of Mark Ashton in my ears. All around me the streets were filled with joy - a celebration was in order, marking a successful equal marriage campaign.

I looked into the faces of those at the street standing by - amongst and between the bewildered, confused and alienated were the proud mums, the 'I'm coming to terms with it' dads and everything in-between.

Joined by the NUS LGBT Campaign and National Student Pride armed with a megaphone (and drinking students) - of course, we didn't shut up. A collection of bemused and supportive faces hit the crowd as they heard "Your doctor/teacher/children might be gay - that's okay".

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I kept looking around me at the similarities and parallels our group had with the L.G.S.M - we were passionate, strong and willing. For the first time in a long time I felt like our student voices were being heard and respected, no room to be brushed to the side as insignificant.

"We're Here. We're queer. We can't afford 9 grand a year" we echoed until voices began to croak and sore.

I'm tired of students and young people as a collective being constantly ignored or patronised by the state. We are widely represented across the board as selfish, spoilt and lazy. I think people forget that if you constantly damage the spirit of a generation and illegitimatise our opinions, it will demolish the hope and drive of those who not only have the potential to make huge positive impact in the UK, but worldwide.

The rain got heavier so naturally, we chanted louder (even louder than the marching band, positioned unfortunately in front of us). Our spirit was alive and so were our hopes. I felt a sense in the air that we were all feeling the same. We want to prove people wrong. We are politically active. We do care a lot about issues not involving us. We're not all selfish, spoilt and lazy, so listen to us!

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I thought of times gone by as I squelched along, my shoes now heavily wading through puddles along Oxford Street (thanks, Converse). I'm overwhelmingly thankful to the strangers before me that braved the same streets, in bitter circumstances for my generation's independence and liberation. How often did they get abused and ignored?

I believe that in this case our history is our strength, we can take hope from the past and use it to fight for today. I encourage more young people to step up and to be heard, no matter how ignored and insignificant you feel. If we learn from the success of others, persistence and hope is the key.

Sadly I've noticed a significant shift within certain friends and people of the same age in wider circles. An opinion I believe to be spreading is that Pride is no longer important or relevant and that Pride is drawing attention to our differences to the rest of society, weakening our progress. Other opinions on the same matter include the belief that due to our successful campaign in equal marriage, we no longer have the need to fight for or protest for our community.

This opinion to me raises many questions. I believe the community needs and should stand as one (again). A strong belief of mine is that not celebrating pride is blindly selfish; to reject and disregard the very community who fought for your rights is an abomination.

Why leave LGBT communities across the world in silence when we could give them hope and support? Why leave our Transgender counter parts to fight for themselves in a system that continues to disregard and fail them? Why believe just because your equality has become comfortable it gives you the right to ignore others in crisis?

I fear Thatcher's Britain is a lost memory in many of my generation. Section 28 perhaps an unknown to those that reject the notion of pride. When the history of Mark Ashton and the incredible work of the L.G.S.M are taught within the film 'Pride', I hope we will see a brighter and more engaging future.

This year an enormous mass of 30,000 people proudly walked the route of London Pride, making it the biggest year in history. Throughout the walk I wonder if those older activists who we owe so much, are still as passionate and hopeful, as they were when they were young.

Beautifully illustrated almost as if written in the stars, as I finish the march I look up to see Stonewall being proudly led by two heroic pioneering activists - Lisa Power and Sir Ian McKellen. I smile widely as I see thousands cheering Stonewall on, a celebration of our history in a uniquely fine moment.

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A new chapter is about to be written in our history. With Stonewall finally embracing the 'T' and with a new generation beginning to voice fresh outlooks and opinions within the community - it's going to be an interesting few years.

I just hope we fight for pride, for ourselves and for those who can't.

Have Pride.