Stand Up, Speak Out: 50 Years of Pride

Stand Up, Speak Out: 50 Years of Pride

Guest Blog: By Lily Hopkins

In life, it’s not always easy to share difficult life experiences, not only because of the feelings that this can evoke, but because people worry about how they will be perceived. I never thought I would be someone to write a guest blog but if it can create even the smallest bit of change, I’m all for it.

I have been asked “why do we need Pride?” and “why do LGBTQ+ people get a month?”. I have been told “you don’t look like a lesbian” and “I don’t mind gay people, but I don’t like it when they flaunt it”. It is easy to feel a sense of shame after ‘coming out’. Society tells you that you are different, and sexuality is portrayed as an uncomfortable topic of conversation. Even the use of the word ‘lesbian’ can create an uncomfortable atmosphere.

In the past when asked if I had a husband, I would pretend to be single to avoid having to ‘come out’ over and over again. When I first qualified as a social worker I quickly learnt that this was an easier response to give to those whose homes I was entering. When told that I would make a nice wife I would smile and change the topic. When I was outed, I would laugh along with the ‘jokes’ until I realised that I was part of the problem. How could I, a social worker, a social constructionist, sit back and not challenge views considered as ‘normal’ in society, knowing that they are not an accurate reflection of social reality? In 21st Century Europe I have been mocked and I have had abuse shouted at me in public. More recently, I found myself in a situation where I felt both physically and emotionally threatened when approached by a group of individuals holding a broken bottle whilst using homophobic language towards me. These experiences have brought home how real both discrimination and its associated risks are.

When there is no such thing as an ‘LGBT-Free Zone’, when hotels no longer need to advertise ‘LGBTQ+ Friendly’, when people no longer feel fearful, and when people stop dying because of their sexuality – this is when we can start to revisit the purpose of Pride and protest.

Pride and LGBTQ+ History Month are essential, not only to discuss change but to celebrate progress. It allows us to celebrate the progression of the movement and the changes in legislation. Equality is for everyone, not just minority groups. Everyone has experiences, not just minority groups. We’re in this together so we best get to work!

At work…

Consider the identities of those you work with, both in terms of colleagues and those using the service. When working with vulnerable adults, for example, think about whether resources meet their needs but also whether resources are suitable in relation to their identity. Consider the backgrounds of those around you, but also their current situation. If you don’t know, ask! Never assume. Join a network with your local authority. Be part of the change.

 
Is there a stand-out moment in LGBT+ History that resonates with you?

There are many! Firstly, 28th June 1969; there is no denying that the Stonewall Uprising was one of the most powerful movements in LGBTQ+ history. Secondly, the Aids pandemic. To this day I get shivers thinking about the activism within the LGBTQ+ community around that time. Lastly, performing at a sold-out Pride event in a hand-written ‘The Dorchester Boycott’ t shirt. I hope that in years to come my stand-out moments in LGBTQ+ history will be when the fertility journey becomes equal for all and when inclusion is the norm, not a policy.

A parting message…

Be who YOU know you’re meant to be. Fight the good fight. Be more punk. Peace out.

Lily Hopkins

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