While Pride month has come to an end, the need for it has not. We welcome guest contributor Olivia Eriksen of Immigration Advice Service to help illuminate the continued need and power of Pride.
Society – particularly in the western world – has made great strides in embracing all people for who they are. We’re confronting gender inequality, racial bias, and judgement faced by the LGBTQ+ community, to name a few. None of these issues are black and white, and the lines between them are blurred and can overlap. Boundaries have been broken down and social constructs questioned to open up the conversation surrounding the fluidity of identity, to reject the ‘one size fits all’ approach that’s been the norm for so long.
Reflecting on Pride
As June drew to a close for another year, so did Pride month. It can be easy to forget about the importance of Pride once the public events are over, but it’s even more important that in the other 11 months of the year, Pride is carried forward in everyday life. This year’s Pride saw events all across the world celebrating the progress that’s been made for the LGBTQ+ community, but also prompting conversations around the steps that still need to be taken. Pride is far more than rainbow flags being hung up and down our streets, it’s a statement to those countries that can and should do better in allowing all members of their communities – including those who identify as any part of LGBTQ+ – to feel welcome and worthy.
The allies Pride needs
The inclusivity we’re seeing is a massive step forward, but we’re not all the way there yet. There are still people – and in some cases entire nations – that question the need for public displays that celebrate the progress we’ve made, suggesting that what we have already is enough to be happy with. The bare minimum level of equality is not what we should be accepting, but instead we should be reaching for total equality across the board, in all aspects of day-to-day life. The bare minimum is not what those in the LGBTQ+ community deserve.
Unfortunately, when discrimination doesn’t directly affect a person or their loved ones, they can be quick to sweep the issues under the carpet and – consciously or not – diminish the significance of the situation. This is what is happening when Pride is branded ‘no longer necessary’, or ‘over the top’ by those who have never needed it.
For a cis-gendered, heteronormative person, it can be difficult to truly understand the struggles of someone who identifies as LGBTQ+, but this difficulty is not a reason not to try. The discomfort of seeing the world through another person’s viewpoint, and understanding the barriers they face in everyday life is vital to affecting real change. These people who align with society’s norms, yet who also reject the need for societal norms, are the allies that Pride needs.
In a country where same-sex marriage is legal, and a sexual orientation other than heterosexual is common and widely accepted, it can be easy to forget the harsh statistics that are out there. Same-sex marriage is only legal in 29 countries out of the world’s 195. Further to this, in 69 countries it’s illegal to be homosexual, with it being punishable by death in a number of them. Sexual orientation is not a choice, and it’s not something that can be changed. Nor is it something that has any bearing on whether a person is good or bad, or how they contribute to society. So, the question remains – why is it something so many people are persecuted for?
Sadly, because of the laws and attitudes surrounding sexuality and gender identity in so many countries, each year countless people are forced to flee their home nation and seek a better life elsewhere, for fear of discrimination at best, and death at worst. Something as
innocent and natural as who a person truly is should not be cause for such drastic measures, but unfortunately for many it is.
The statistics speak for themselves, and they act as a prime example of why Pride is still so vital in our modern society. These, coupled with the still unjust attitudes that the LGBTQ+ community faces every single day, serve to bolster the argument that Pride should not be
shelved due to ‘no longer being needed’, but instead that we should still celebrate the month as proudly as we have done for years. Everyone should feel like they’re enough just as they are, and that is what Pride stands for. Forget just June, we should all carry the values of Pride with us throughout every month of the year.
Olivia Eriksen is a writer and correspondent for the Immigration Advice Service, an
organisation of immigration solicitors that provides legal aid to forcibly displaced persons.