Pride month – our opportunity
28 Jun 2023
28 Jun 2023
Flags, parades and celebrations… June has now become a fixture in our calendars where the iconography of the LGBTQ+ community and queer culture is becoming recognised and associated with the month as much as we associate chocolate eggs with Easter and carved pumpkins with October.
As with many aspects of wider, ‘non-traditional’ culture or groups within society – the Queer community suffers an element of ‘othering’ – marginalised, pushed to the side, and a lexicon of ‘us and them’ becomes the main discourse.
So, instead of adding to the narrative and simply turning our logo into a rainbow and pointing you towards our Equality and Diversity statement*, we’re handing over the mic to our brilliant Strategic Ecology Manager, Louis so that he can give his take on:
So, read on and take a walk in Louis’ shoes…
*(If you DID want that, it’s here, but it’s a pretty dull read)
Having LGBTQ+ and Queer iconography helps break down that ‘othering’ with simple visibility – a sign of existence, a celebration of being and hopefully a discourse that moves away from ‘us and them’.
We’ve all heard: ‘We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!’ but Pride recognises that ‘othering’ can actually work the other way.
Pride month’s statement, to me at least, is less of getting used to it and more of an introduction to those who might not know we are here.
Perhaps it’s time for: ‘We’re here, we’re queer… nice to meet you’.
Pride flags and Pride parades give way to a celebration of expression and freedom within community and safety, whereas marginalization and othering lead to loneliness and fear….
Am I the only one going through this? What will happen to me? Should I express myself?
As a Queer person, I have felt, at times, reticence in walking into a bar or pub.
Will I be met with acceptance or hostility?
A Pride flag outside or a sticker in the window provides a beacon, a lighthouse in stormy weather, guiding me towards safer shores of acceptance and safety.
The Queer individual seeking safer shores is multiplied to a community that feels isolated and marginalised, seeking acceptance and safety, expression and freedom, not within the confines of a singular building, but within a wider environment – Pride month.
With it, it carries the weight and hopes that society and communities are waving that Pride flag too. A future that replaces hostility with hospitality.
I recently went on a trip to Berlin, a city well renowned for its open expression and freedom of a whole number of facets within society. A place that displays a very visible and palpable acceptance and celebration of all things LGBTQ+ and Queer culture.
This trip was timely as it was within the month of June, and with Pride month now almost celebrated in most counties around the world, I noticed a plethora of Pride flags and Queer iconography. When talking to some locals one day, I remarked on this very visible iconography, and I mentioned how great it was to see Berlin celebrating Pride month in such an embracing way.
But the response from the locals was something I did not expect.
Initially, the locals looked a bit puzzled and were thoughtful for a moment… I initially put this down to some very questionable German from myself. However, one local finally responded, ‘We don’t celebrate Pride month; the flags and everything else is here all year round. Every year is Pride year’.
Their attitude towards Pride stayed with me and will stay with me forever.
But let us go back to what Pride Month is. It is indeed a celebration. But it is also a fixture on the calendar.
What happens in the days after Easter, and what happens on November 1st? The chocolate eggs are finished, and the pumpkin is discarded. Only once a year do we see chocolate eggs, and only once a year do we carve pumpkins.
So, is Pride month to suffer the same fate? Flags and iconography removed from town centres and shop fronts, company logos no longer in rainbow colours, rainbow bunting left in the sun, becoming yellowed and tattered?
Is Pride Month a celebration? Yes, it is, undoubtedly. But what prevents it from being discarded? A carved pumpkin cannot hold its shape forever, and neither can Pride if we confine it to just one month in the calendar.
During June, the word pride is said ad infinitum, but what does it actually mean?
Pride will mean a million different things to a million different people.
For me, Pride is a state of mind. It’s a feeling and a way of living.
After many years of not knowing who I was and feeling worthless, I now finally feel Pride. I am worthwhile, I love myself, and I feel like a winner. This state of mind, this feeling, this way of living is not confined to a certain day or month. It is something that is systemically part of me, the ‘I’ that I see in the mirror each and every day – it has no end date. It is timeless.
What, then, if Pride month was not just a celebration, not just a fixture in a calendar but a moment in time that asks a question of us: ‘Do you feel Pride?’ A moment in time where we can disconnect. A moment of mindfulness to think inward, true contemplation.
I feel Pride, but it did not happen overnight or within a set month; it is a feeling that has built over time. For me, I have come to realise Pride Month is not just a celebration. It is an opportunity, an opportunity to answer that question and reflect on what is important.
Feeling Pride, feeling self-worth, safety, and loving yourself is something we are all entitled to – even if you do not feel that way now, Pride month provides that environment of acceptance and safety, expression and freedom that can give you that moment of mindfulness and contemplation. Pride month is an opportunity to fully express yourself, accept who you are and love who you are. Pride is a celebration for everyone, whatever your orientation; every single person can celebrate Pride, and everyone deserves to feel Pride – everyone deserves that opportunity.
Let us not, then, discard Pride on the 1st July. Let us all, everyone, celebrate and seize that opportunity.
I’m not always one for quotes, but Ru Paul’s ‘YOU’RE A WINNER, BABY’ stays with me. With Pride month, celebrate and make it your opportunity. Because you are a winner, we all are.