This blog was produced by Hannah Garner, who works as a Community Development Officer at PAPYRUS, based in the charity’s Birmingham office.

A huge part of being queer is connected to the community and the support received from people who might not understand but offer their love regardless. As a bisexual, gender-fluid person, it is important for me to work within an environment that supports the LGBTQIA+ community openly and with warmth.

PRIDE is a place where difference is celebrated. As we know that people within the LGBTQIA+ community are vulnerable to suicide, it is crucial that we attend PRIDE events to show our allyship and to demonstrate that no matter who you are, no one should have to struggle with thoughts of suicide alone.

On the 24 June 2023, I attended Stoke-on-Trent Pride with PAPYRUS, and below I have listed five reasons why it is important that we show our solidarity with the queer community.

 

 

  1. Support matters

I always remember this quote by Coretta Scott King: “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”. It highlights the importance actions play when creating a community and that compassion is vital to a community that centres a sense of belonging. It is invaluable to show support at PRIDE events, to show that we openly support and stand with the LGBTQIA+ community and that the community feels seen and supported by PAPYRUS. PRIDE events are a celebration of joy within the community, but they are also wonderful spaces for people to learn more about what support is out there and being a part of the events could help save a young queer person’s life.

 

  1. LGBTQIA+ people are vulnerable to suicide

There are some heartbreaking statistics around suicide rates within the LGBTQIA+ community, and that is why PAPYRUS must have a presence at PRIDE events and also to ensure that we continue that support by working with organisations and grassroots community groups to create suicide-safer LGBTQIA+ spaces. By conversing with people at PRIDE, I noticed how many people had been bereaved by suicide within the community, with one person telling me, “It would have been really helpful to have known about [PAPYRUS] four years ago when I lost my best friend to suicide.”

Having a presence at PRIDE and raising awareness of our helpline, HOPELINE247, by having conversations with people and listening to their lived experiences will inspire hope that people can reach out to us, and support is available for the LGBTQIA+ community.

 

  1. To learn from different perspectives

Everyone has their own unique story to tell, along with different lived experiences, and PRIDE events are a great way to spend time with people who have a variety of stories to tell about their life. Listening to people who have struggled with their gender identity or sexuality and how they have overcome those feelings of hopelessness can be truly uplifting and encouraging.

During my time at Stoke-on-Trent’s PRIDE event, I spoke to one person who said they were alive today because they called HOPELINE a few years ago in a time of need and thanked us for supporting them when they needed that help. It is essential to listen to these stories to understand more about how we can help support the LGBTQIA+ community; we can always be doing more to help our vulnerable groups and having honest conversations are one way to learn more.

 

  1. To challenge homophobia and transphobia

We live in a world where homophobia and transphobia rhetoric is rife, and these views can be detrimental, not only to LGBTQIA+ people’s mental wellbeing but everyone in society. We can all stand together in the fight against harmful ideologies, as we would all benefit from a world with less hate and a more fluid approach to gender. Organisations must show support in order to challenge these harmful ideologies by demonstrating that every life is worth living. There is a feeling of warmth and security at PRDIE events that people are accepted for who they are, no matter what that looks like.

 

  1. As an act of self-care

PRIDE has deep historical roots in policy changes and queer liberation, ignited by the Stonewall riots, which led to a series of celebratory PRIDE events across the globe since 1969. Whilst attending PRIDE events, there is a buzz of acceptance around you, the pure peace that people feel as they walk holding one hand with their partner and holding the other with a community of non-judgemental people with love in their core.

PRIDE events are an act of self-care, a place for anyone to be themselves and to be celebrated for their difference, a place where everyone can benefit from the act of radical self-acceptance and connect to the joy of the community.

 

If you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide, and need a safe non-judgmental space to talk, PAPYRUS is here for you. Call HOPELINE247 for free, confidential advice and support on 0800 068 4141, text 88247 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org. We are here all day, every day, 365 days a year.
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