Dear Straight/Cis People
Dear Straight/Cis People,
A note on Pride (as we’ve just had Pride in London 2019)
Firstly you are welcome, please come and join us. I wanted to make this the first thing I said because we are all about inclusivity so it'd be a little bit daft if we said that you weren't included wouldn't it? We should be working together anyway to bring about dignity and equality for all regardless of sexuality, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, skin colour, socio-economics, education etc.
We've all come from different places and have our own story to tell as to how we have become the people that we are today so of course the idea of division and one-up-manship is, or at least should be, abhorrent to us. So yes, we may be the hosts of this giant global party that we call Pride, but that doesn't mean that the guest list is only restricted to LGBTIQ+ people, so get your glitter out, paint it on liberally, spray your hair funky colours and wear your most outrageous clothes and COME JOIN US!
If your only association with LGBTIQ+ people is to pop along to Pride once a year or buy an LGBT sarnie from M&S because, yeah it’s in rainbow packaging so that’ll look cool, then we need to talk...
We already know it's a great party, we have the best playlists (sorry, we just do!) and we can make any town or city a vibrant kaleidoscope of colour just by showing up, but there is a reason we do that and unless you've been living under a rock for the past 50 years then you'll know that Pride is much more than a party, even though it is a really good one.
It's really easy to think that in 2019 in the UK (or much of Western Europe, the USA and Aus/NZ) that there is no need for the whole protest and politics thing, but believe me there is. Of course no one is being killed by the state for being LGBTIQ+ in leafy UK but there is still plenty of discrimination about and homophobia/transphobia are alive and kicking.
So, my plea to you is this, come and enjoy the party (as we've acknowledged it's one hell of a party!) But the next time you get the opportunity to stand up for an LGBTIQ+ person who is being bullied, discriminated against, laughed at or, worse for example, actually attacked on a London bus then you sure as certain better say something otherwise it makes you a hypocrite.
Really, I know that sounds harsh, but it's true, and it's especially true if you've been marching in the parade with us, because you should know that many LGBTIQ+ people haven't been able to march in the Pride Parade because wristband numbers have been reduced for community groups, to allow more for the big sponsors and their massive floats with you on them.
Which is fine, we need the sponsors and we need our allies, but we need you the other 364 days of the year too, not just so you can look 'woke', as I believe the cool kids are saying these days, wearing a rainbow and dancing to Kylie on the back of a lorry in Regent Street on a Saturday afternoon. It's worth remembering that your wristband in the parade, your fun afternoon in Trafalgar Square (or wherever you may be for Pride this year) and even your freedom to stand and watch the parade comes at a cost.
The 'deposit' for your freedom to do any of those things has been paid by the people who said ‘enough is enough’, leading the demand for equal rights and stood up to their oppressors 50 years ago at The Stonewall Inn in NYC, the early-doors 'out' celebrities who took a risk and shared their authentic selves so that others could feel free to do the same, the countless people who have been imprisoned or killed because of their sexuality and/or gender (it's worth remembering that transgender women of colour are some of the most vulnerable to murder in the world) as well as many others who have taken risks, stood up and spoken out through our history.
The 'balance' to be paid is your voice on the days where you're not at Pride, the rest of the year, find a way to help, donate to an LGBTIQ+ charity if you are a Christian (or even if not) then OneBodyOneFaith is somewhere you could show your support. London Friend is another excellent charity and Mermaids is another - Learn about the struggles faced by LGBTIQ+ people here in the UK and abroad. Write to your local media, learn the correct words and terminology and politely correct people who use words and phrases that are discriminatory or hurtful, comment (positively) on social media where you see homophobia/transphobia being spouted, write to your MP, demand more, demand better.
Please continue to come and enjoy Pride, I can't say it enough, there is plenty of Kylie, Smirnoff and M&S sarnies to go round, we've got the drinks in and we want you to be there, but if, next week say, when we need you more you don't act, you turn a blind eye, or walk past on the other side of the street (Christian, I am looking at you) then you have simply let us down and cannot call yourself an ally.
Happy Pride season everyone, if you were in London then you may have spotted me in the parade, I was honoured and humbled to lead the Christians at Pride flouncing in the parade in full drag (yes, girls can do drag too!) dressed as an angel, having the time of my life and beyond thankful that you and I are free to do this, where many others are not.
There are still a few Prides to go here in the UK, so if you’ve not been to one yet, or fancy another one then Google them and find out where the closest one to you is and pop along, the playlist will probably be similar to the one you heard in London but Kylie is our Queen and we get to choose the music. If you’re done with Pride for this year then you’ve got a whole 12 months to be an ally until we regroup for the Pride season 2020, as always I do hope you’ll join us.
Lisa-Jayne Lewis, Trustee