Blog by Victoria Power, Senior Developer
What a question! When I first sat down to write this, I did not think it would be so difficult. I hope what I have written in some small way reflects how Pride makes me feel, and how that has evolved over time.
Having grown up under Section 28, despite being part of the LGBTQ+ community from the late 90s, I never attended Pride until I was living in Manchester (2007). Where I had grown up did not really have Pride until 2008, but celebrating in Manchester that first time was electric. It was like being part of the biggest family on earth.
Looking back, I feel I was naïve, optimistic and simply happy to be around friends and peers who allowed me to be myself without having to worry about hiding all the time. Since then I feel my relationship with Pride has very much changed.
After that first Pride event, I moved abroad to Ethiopia, where I briefly met a local LGBT Activist living in a UN Household – being an out Lesbian is a crime in her country & punishable by up to 15 yrs in prison.
She told me how ferengi (foreigners) had tried to galvanise the community, but it had to come from within; people (esp. women) were scared. For her, the idea of Pride became a symbol of both freedom and protest.
Seeing the LGBT Community through her eyes, changed my perception of Pride in this country. I felt we had lost what Pride stood for and replaced it with one big party.
Pride, after that, had to mean something. It was no longer the party it was in my 20s, it became more political. During my 30s I have marched in Cardiff and Bristol Pride Parades, both professionally and personally.
Professionally, I have marched in Cardiff representing my employer alongside Stonewall Cymru and the Law Society. I am proud to be able to march in this way, representing the legal community and by being visible hopefully, others may think ‘I can work there, I will be respected and feel safe’.
Marching personally in Bristol was very different, as I was with friends who were finding the confidence to be themselves and seeing Pride through their eyes as a place to feel safe, and as part of a community they feel isolated from at home reminded me of why we do this.
Pride today is a celebration, but it should also remain a protest. Despite all the progress the United Kingdom has made, there is still a way to go for full equality within our community. It is easy to lose sight amongst the glitter, sequins and rainbows that some of our community are suffering.
Those of us who have the privilege to march relatively safely are a beacon of hope and love for those globally who fight daily to avoid abuse, arrest and death1. The LGBTQ+ community is an amazing place; Pride presents an opportunity to reflect the best of us.
1 Examples: Russia, Poland, Hungary, Bolivia, Jamaica, Nigeria, Singapore, Tunisia