This year’s pride was one of firsts for many reasons. The Kentish city of Canterbury recently held its first Pride event, which is also the first Pride event I have ever attended. Never having attended a pride event before, I wasn’t sure as to what to expect. The only Pride parades I have seen are the prolific London and San Francisco events that are treated to TV coverage; so, you can understand why that in the back of my mind, I was expecting rainbow-coloured floats, scantily-clad men and women marching in the parade, and glitter and confetti everywhere.
However, Canterbury Pride had none of those things. It simply involved members and supporters of the LGBT community marching in a group through the city centre whilst holding banners and waving flags and expressing a pride in who they are; which was more than enough.
Despite making the huge mistake of wearing all black attire among people wrapped in rainbow flags and covered in glitter, being part of the procession with other members of the LGBT community made me included, like I was a part of something. Being an introverted person, walking in a parade with hundreds of people watching is not something I would usually do. But I did feel good participating in a Pride event, simply walking with other members of the LGBT community to show I am proud of who am I.
The march ended in The Dane John Gardens where there were stands and food stalls as well as a stage where drag artists and tribute acts performed for all of those in attendance. Most prominently, the Pride event showed that LGBT people are just that- people. They have families and children and friends and they are just like anybody else.
I am proud of who I am
That same evening my friend and I went to the Pride after-party and had a lovely time. However, while I fell into bed following a night of drinking, dancing, and partying, across the ocean in Orlando an atrocity was happening. In the early hours of Sunday morning 50 people were shot dead in a gay club in Florida in the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history.
Members and supporters of the LGBT community in Canterbury had spent the day showcasing their pride for who they are, whereas members and supporters in Orlando who had just wanted to go out and dance were executed for doing the same thing. They were proud, they were dancing, and they were killed.
The University of Kent’s very own LGBT+ society has itself stated that ‘this awful incident demonstrates that there is still a lot more needed in the push for equality for everyone.’
After milestones in LGBT equality such as world leaders speaking out in support for gay rights and same-sex marriage being legalised in countries all over the world, I think it can be forgotten that prejudice and homophobia is still prevalent in our society. It can easily be forgotten that sometimes the world can be a dangerous place for LGBT people.
this awful incident demonstrates that there is still a lot more needed in the push for equality for everyone
Let’s put things in perspective for those who refuse to see this as a fundamentally homophobic attack.
Homosexuality is illegal in 73 countries across the globe. In seven countries being gay leads to a death sentence. A current law means that a gay man is unable to donate blood unless he has been celibate for a year. This rule means that a gay couple in a loving and healthy monogamous relationship is unable to donate blood to those further 53 individuals who were injured in the Orlando shooting.
Those who were not killed or injured, and friends of those who were, may be unable to donate blood to help those who need it. This outdated, and frankly discriminatory, law means that I can’t donate blood to people I care about or just because I want to help others.
Such prejudice and discrimination is exactly the reason why Pride events are necessary. They are needed to educate people, to show others that LGBT individuals are ordinary people that are no different to anybody else. As the University of Kent’s LGBT+ society said ‘in this month of LGBT+ Pride, we must all not only continue to celebrate ourselves and our community but also stay positive and support those who need us most.’