The following piece was created by a PAPYRUS staff member to celebrate Pride month, and highlight the importance of celebrating LGBTQIA+ people not just in June, but all year round.
Lots of people ask why Pride month is still needed, and to some people outside of the LGBTQIA+ community, it can look like Pride isn’t necessary anymore. But there are many reasons why Pride month is still needed, and – as a lesbian woman – I’d like to share with you how I think celebrating Pride can be a good thing for young LGBTQIA+ people, including those who experience thoughts of suicide.
Pride started as a protest called the Stonewall Riots which happened because Police tried to raid the Stonewall Inn in New York. Pride Month honours those who were part of the most important gay rights protests and is a reminder that Pride can still fight for our rights. It wasn’t until 1999 that June officially became Pride Month in the USA. It has since grown into a massive celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Pride month isn’t just Gay Pride
Some people still call it Gay Pride but Pride is for everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community. Some people in our community are just as transphobic, biphobic and racist as some people outside of our community and don’t want to include everyone. It’s important we don’t put up barriers that make people feel they don’t belong because they’re trans, non-binary, bisexual, Black, Brown, or a combination of these. Someone even created a new flag which added extra colours to the rainbow flag to show that Pride is for everyone. It can’t fix all of the issues but it is a small step to including everyone.
Raising awareness of issues faced by LGBTQIA+ people
June is not just time for celebration, it’s also a time to raise awareness of issues we might experience being part of the LGBTQIA+. It shines a light on the unique challenges we might face so that we can support each other better.
In the UK, rights have improved for some groups within the LGBTQIA+ community. Section 28* was removed, same sex marriage was made legal, and conversion therapy is due to be made illegal for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. But there is more we need to do.
The ban on conversion therapy doesn’t include trans people**. Waiting times at gender clinics are years long. Between 2016/17 an 2020/2021 the number of reported hate crimes against LGBTQIA+ people more than doubled. LGBTQIA+ people continue to face unequal treatment in workplaces, healthcare, and other areas of life.
A health report by Stonewall from 2018 shows that 52% of LGBT people said they’ve experienced depression, while 46% of trans people and 31% of LGB people who aren’t trans have thought about suicide.
Creating a safe space for LGBTQIA+ people
Pride should be a safe space for LGBTQIA+ people to celebrate a part of ourselves we may hide. Parades and other events allow us to be ourselves with pride, rather than hide parts of who we are behind closed doors, which some of us have to do more often than others.
Building and supporting the community
Any events where LGBTQIA+ people are coming together can build community. Pride gives young LGBTQIA+ people the chance to attend events where they can meet others who are like them and feel part of the wider LGBTQIA+ community. Pride events promote opportunities of support both within and outside of the LGBTQIA+ community with many charities and other groups promoting the work they do to support us.
Encouraging and supporting acceptance
The general conversation around Pride and the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as local events, creates an environment where people can feel acceptance of themselves. It allows others to become more familiar with seeing LGBTQIA+ people being themselves in their local communities, which can go a small way to encouraging acceptance from others. A positive consequence of this is that some people may feel more able to come out to friends, family, etc. when the world is already talking about people like us.
While on their own these things might not help someone who is experiencing thoughts of suicide, together they can make a difference. Increasing acceptance, building community, raising awareness, and developing a support network can help to make some of the challenges we might face easier to cope with.
This Pride Month I’d like the rest of the LGBTQIA+ community to know that Papyrus is a safe space for you to get support with staying safe from suicide. We see you, we understand the challenges you’re experiencing, and we want to help you.
If you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide, and need a safe non-judgmental space to talk, PAPYRUS is here for you. Call HOPELINEUK for free, confidential advice and support on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039 967 or email firstname.lastname@example.org from 9am to midnight every day of the year.
* Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 had banned local authorities and schools from ‘promoting homosexuality’. Read more about Section 28, and why it’s repeal is so important, on the Stonewall website, here.