Do We Need Pride Any More?

06/07/2017 12:25 BST | Updated 06/07/2017 12:25 BST

It's Pride season and as the London Pride parade approaches this Saturday, people will ask why we even need it.

Do they have a point? After all, aren't LGBT people fully assimilated into society now with the same rights as everyone else? They can get married, adopt children, and even enjoy Pride greetings from both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.

But these changes, whilst undoubtedly positive, mask a different reality. It's the reality of the many same-sex couples who are frightened of holding hands in public, because in large parts of the country they're at risk of verbal and physical attack. And even if that doesn't happen, they'll probably get accused of doing it to make a political statement, or rubbing it in people's faces. (After all, they couldn't possibly be holding hands just because they love each other).

It's also the reality of the many teenagers who are perceived as gay - whether it's true or not - and therefore subjected to bullying and abuse by their peers.

Then there's the reality for many members of faith communities. Whilst there are wonderful and accepting communities of which LGBT people are full and active members, there are many where they're made to feel shameful for feelings they didn't choose, or under pressure to take part in conversion therapies that could be extremely damaging for their mental health.

There's also a different reality for many older LGBT people, including people with dementia. When they move into a care home, aside from all the normal worries, they're scared of revealing their identity - worried that homophobic staff will discriminate against them or abuse them when they're at their most vulnerable.

And even for those living the dream - getting married and living in an area where LGBT people are usually safe - they may have parents who refuse to come to their wedding, or family members who won't talk to them.

Of course, a few Pride marches and events won't resolve all these issues or bring equality overnight. But when anyone, straight or LGBT, takes part in Pride, they send a message that LGBT people clearly - perhaps desperately - need to hear: you don't need to feel shame for who you love.

Why not take part in your local Pride, and send the message that all LGBT people of every age, race, religion and demographic can be proud of who they are?