We asked seven trailblazing female activists and campaigners to discuss the true meaning of Pride.
June is Pride month in the US, but in the UK, we’re lucky enough to get a whole summer of events celebrating the LGBT+ community. The Pride in London parade takes place on 7 July, followed by events in Glasgow, Brighton, Nottingham, Belfast, Manchester, Cardiff, Leicester and dozens of other towns and cities throughout July, August and into September.
While Pride is a glorious, triumphant, technicolour party – and one that’s become increasingly corporatized over the last few years, much to the discomfort of some LGBT+ people – it is also still an important political statement. How could it not be, when two-thirds of LGBT+ people still fear holding hands in public, attacks on LGBT+ people have surged by almost 80% over the last four years and more than a third of all transgender people suffered hate crimes last year?
With this as a backdrop, thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex and asexual people and their allies taking to the streets is still a powerful and necessary show of defiance, solidarity and acceptance.
Below, we asked seven women doing important work in LGBT+ activism to share what they think is the most important thing to remember this Pride. Because there’s much, much more to it than rainbows and glitter.
Charlie Craggs, trans activist, founder of the Nails Transphobia Project and author of To My Trans Sisters
“It’s so important to remember that Pride began as a protest. It’s become a massive corporate sponsored party, but there’s still so much to be protesting about, like the fact that more trans people – usually trans women of colour – are being murdered every year. Trans women of colour started Pride – don’t forget about them this year.”
Reeta Loi, writer and co-founder of Gaysians
“Pride is a powerful word, but depending on your circumstances it can seem quite abstract. If you’ve been made to feel shame about your queer identity, you may feel conflicted. So anything we can do to bolster our queer friends at this time of year is great. Go to Pride and be an ally! Queer people can effect a lot of change, but real acceptance needs our friends and families to support us and talk about it positively with their own friends.
Being an ally also means standing up to homophobia and transphobia. Post-Brexit, I think some people feel they have an excuse to attack minorities. I’ve certainly had more abuse on the street than I did in the past, and the stats echo this. So be aware that we’re feeling it. Any time you hear negative comments, call people out.
If a friend or family member comes out to you, be compassionate and supportive. And if you suspect a friend might be LGBT+, make it easier for them to talk to you – share this article, or just let them know you love them and you’re proud of them.
But do remember that LGBT+people don’t constantly want to talk about being LGBT+. I’m a lesbian, but my sexuality is only one part of my identity.”
Georgia Elander, activist, the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre campaign
“Pride season is a really exciting time to get involved in the rich tapestry that is queer culture. If you’re a straight person going to pride parties or events with your queer friends, this is an amazing opportunity to learn, to think differently about gender and sexuality, and crucially to support queer spaces – which have been decimated in recent years.
Remember, if you’ve had the privilege of being invited into one of those spaces, be respectful. Don’t assume anyone’s gender or sexuality; step in if you witness homophobia, transphobia, biphobia or misogyny; and, if you can, help keep our venues alive by making a donation or buying a drink!”
Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, co-founder and director, UK Black Pride
“We have made so many advances as a community and so much of what we know, what we fight for and who we are is because a group of people said ‘no more’. They refused to accept the status quo and they fought back. Fighting looks much different for us today and the language we use in this fight has changed a great deal.
UK Black Pride was borne of a need to provide a safe space for Black LGBT+ people to celebrate who we are and to protest in solidarity for the rights and lives of every oppressed person in our community. We have been excluded from so many spaces for so long and so I’d like people to remember that this movement isn’t just about gay marriage.
It’s about eradicating misogyny and misogynoir, racism and sexism. It’s about ensuring Black LGBT+ have every advantage that our white counterparts have. And it’s about remembering that there is so much that separates and divides us, but that we’re all actually fighting for the same future.
It’s important to remember those who have been historically forgotten and for us to take to these celebrations with the understanding that there is protest in celebration. When we celebrate together, when we fight for each other, when we remember those who are forgotten, we move us all forward. None of us are free until we’re all free. Happy Pride!”
“The UK has seen unprecedented attacks on trans people in the media during the past year. It’s important that we speak out in support and solidarity with our transgender friends, family and colleagues at Pride, and every other day of the year. Staying silent only allows hatred to grow.”
Ellen Jones, writer, YouTuber and campaigner on LGBT+ and mental health issues
“This Pride, it is imperative that we recognise that, although Pride is incredibly important part of our history and our fight for liberation, the event is also often inaccessible to disabled people. As an autistic person, I often feel alienated from queer spaces because they tend to be incredibly loud, bright and claustrophobic, and can send me into sensory overload.
Pride is a vital celebration, but we need to ensure accessibility measures are put in place and consistently upheld, so that the disabled members of our community can attend if they want to, and that they do not feel excluded as so many do.
There are a whole plethora of ways someone might be disabled and arguably it may be difficult to accommodate everybody’s needs all of the time. That does not mean it is impossible, or that is not worthwhile. It does means that you need to listen to disabled people, involve us in your planning and actively work towards including us.
We need to remember that we cannot be liberated as LGBT+ people if vast swathes of our community are left behind and shut out in the process.”
Anjum, campaigner for Muslim LGBT+ rights and trustee at Imaan
“Pride’s strength is in its diversity. We are entering an age where marginalised groups are reclaiming power, and that’s why groups like Imaan, who have been supporting LGBT+ Muslims globally for nearly 20 years, are so important. Around the world, people are still oppressed, murdered, exploited and subjected to violence and atrocities because of their sexual orientation, not just in parts of the world that some people ‘otherise’ or think are at a distance from us, but in Europe, the States and here in the UK too.
There have been some great movements in equality in recent years, particularly in terms of same-sex marriage and the Equality Act 2010, but a lot of dialogue and discussion is still needed. For me, Pride accentuates the meaning of diversity and inclusion. We support Pride because we want equality in all realms of life, and we also want protection globally for Muslim LGBT+ communities.
Both cis and trans women have been essential to LGBT+ activism from the outset – they really are the foundation of the work that is happening. It’s really important to keep all women as the focal point of Pride.”
Stylist’s Visible Women campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of women who’ve made a difference, celebrating their success, and empowering future generations to follow their lead. See more from Visible Women here.
Images: Getty Images / Yasmeen Melius / Allison Mack / Ajamu / Courtesy of interviewees