For me, Pride represents people who are typically under-represented in different aspects of society and it stands-up for those who are all too often treated unfairly.
As the lead for our organisation’s involvement in Bolton Pride, what I value is the importance of Pride to the LGBT+ community and beyond.
Following the vote for Brexit, there was an increase in hate crime directed towards minority groups including the LGBT+ community. Until the day comes when I can feel comfortable publicly holding hands with who I have chosen to be with, without the fear of being abused by others, there is a need for Pride.
The LGBT+ community is not treated the same as the heterosexual community. Much like Black Lives Matter, around the world right now, people aren’t asking for special treatment. It is about equality, and human rights.
During the pandemic, I have read different publications and spoke with a number of my colleagues about how members of the LGBT+ community have been affected during lockdown. A friend of mine, who is 24 years old, has returned to living with his parents because he was laid off from work and couldn’t afford his rent. He has basically gone back into the closet because his parents, although they clearly love him, have always struggled to accept his sexuality. He doesn’t live in fear but again lives the secret life once put behind him when he left home.
Discussions have been had with older members of the LGBT+ community, for the Pride In Ageing Scheme in Greater Manchester, to educate housing associations on better supporting their older LGBT+ tenants. There is a possibility if older LGBT+ people move into care homes or sheltered communities, they could find themselves living with some intolerant people. There are a number of projects in Greater Manchester working to support people and educate those who they share a home with.
There is clearly a risk that lockdown might suppress people from publicly being who they are privately, and it could leave many too fearful to come out.
With all that we are seeing, hearing and feeling, it is essential that people educate themselves on the issues of discrimination in the world and the realities of unjust societies for many people, including those within the LGBT+ community.
Our personal stories and life journeys make us who we are. However we show it, it’s vital that we give people respect so they don’t live in fear but only feel pride.
The LGBT Foundation has some amazing research and projects, I would urge everyone who is reading this, to have a look here.
Robert Andrews is Learning and Development Manager for Bolton at Home.
Bolton at Home is a charitable community benefit society that works to make people’s lives better by providing quality housing, giving people opportunities to prosper and helping tenants and residents to maximise their incomes. To achieve this it works in partnership with a variety of local charities, social enterprises, community groups and other organisations.