As my daughter finished off her box model dolls house, she excitedly ushered me into the lounge to see what she had made… It was a rainbow house complete with rainbow flags at full mast, rainbow bedding, wallpaper, a pole to dance on and lots of glitter.
It was as if she had taken a snapshot of last weekend in which we celebrated Pride with my Dads in the garden of my glitter themed home (and yes I have a pole in my lounge!).
We normally attend Pride as a family in June which supports, celebrates and campaigns for equal rights for LGBT+ communities as well as marking the Stonewall riots which sparked the fight for Gay rights just over 50 years ago.
When Pride marches and celebrations take place around the world each year (obviously it’ll be marked differently this year), it’s easy to see an amass of rainbow swishing flags, music pumping and people dancing along and forget that Pride is much more than just a party.
It is a much needed demonstration of unity, hope and reflection as well as a sign of solidarity for marginalised communities.
I cannot begin to imagine the challenges a lot of the LGBT+ communities continue to experience daily, but what I can share is my view as someone brought up by Gay Dads.
Marching side-by-side with my Dad and Step-Dad (and for the past 8 years I have had my own children too, normally in a rainbow themed buggy) on a Gay Pride parade has always been an uplifting and emotional experience.
Feeling the power that unity can bring when humans from all backgrounds join together to fight for equality is touching yet reflective as you know the destructive nature that homophobia and prejudice brings all year round.
I daren’t think what LGBT+ people, including my Dads have endured over the years, due to stigma and being isolated well before this pandemic hit.
Even as a child of Gay parents I have been bullied, assaulted and shunned as a result of homophobia let alone what the experience must be like for an LGBT+ individual growing up. As soon as I hit school age my home life was a “secret” for fear of repercussions if people found out that my Dad’s lodger was actually his partner.
Even simple acts of love and affection are often hidden from public view as same sex couples are acutely aware of the back lash.
So it is of paramount importance that our support is loud, our unity is celebrated and we recognise the achievements of our incredible LGBT+ communities.
And whilst we may not be able to show solidarity in exactly the same way this year, it is more important than ever, to still mark Pride Month.
People say the pandemic has been the “great equaliser” but for me it has shown huge disparities for a range of marginalised communities.
LGBT+ communities are vulnerable with some people stuck in homophobic homes, others unable to access the support and healthcare they need and it appears that governments world-wide are using this pandemic to stall or drop legislations which protect the human rights of LGBT+ people.
Let’s also not forget that the powerful rainbow flag which is historically associated with LGBT+ Pride and is a sign of peace, hope and visibility.
Whenever I went on holiday with my Dads as a child, seeing the rainbow flag hang outside bars and restaurants was a warming sign that we would be safe and welcome in that venue just as we are. My Dads would be more relaxed, we would feel at ease and we wouldn’t get any of the awkward questions or looks.
In the UK I have felt many positive changes over the past 30 years of my life as homophobia is called out and challenged more, enabling some people to be more open about their sexuality. But even here in a relatively safe country, being Gay was a crime up until 1967 and homophbia remains rife in society directly and indirectly.
What’s more is that today I am witnessing an alarming amount of widespread transphobia too.
But it’s not all doom and gloom which is why Pride is so important to recognise how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go.
So whilst I live in my happy bubble of unity and Pride at home celebrations, I am acutely aware that we still need to speak up, more than ever, for marginalised communities.
It does not take a parade for me to feel proud of my Dads, I do so deeply already, but it is of paramount importance that we continue to show our support and recognition for LGBT+ people from all backgrounds.
My daughter’s doll house sits proudly on our coffee table, reminding me that children take our lead and can be the change we wish to see in the future… so whilst there may not be the huge Pride parades this year… we can all be more visible by flying the rainbow flag high at home and, in our heart and minds.