As the rainbow flags unfurl and the world unites in a vibrant display of love and acceptance, I had the privilege of talking with Arron, a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and a member of our Intersectional Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee.
Arron's unique experiences and reflections offer a poignant glimpse into what pride truly means to him, highlighting the vital ingredients of effective allyship and dispelling myths surrounding the diverse and vibrant LGBTQIA+ community.
Join me as we explore Arron’s views on celebrating the power of pride, the significance of allyship, and the urgent need to challenge misconceptions in order to foster a more inclusive and accepting world.
What does pride mean to you?
Pride is knowing and loving yourself for who you are.
It’s being comfortable holding hands in public, knowing that for every bigot that shouts abuse, there are 100 people who will feel represented, understood and proud to be who they are.
It’s knowing your history and celebrating LGBTQIA+ heroes who fought tooth and nail for a better society for all.
It’s understanding that liberation for all groups, allowing them to live safely and unashamedly, is liberation for all.
Even after coming out at a very young age, I still experienced years of internal shame and fear for being who I was. Eventually, I decided “screw it” and started showing the world who I truly was.
I live loud and proud not just for 13-year-old Arron, scared to show the world who they are, but all the human beings who suffered and fought hard for the rights and safety I have today.
Pride isn’t something that I’ve ever intentionally cultivated, but something that has naturally developed from my journey of self-love and self-discovery.
Why do you think we have pride?
We have Pride to show everyone that being LGBTQIA+ is natural, beautiful and nothing to be ashamed of.
People often forget that homosexuality was illegal right up until 1967 in England and Wales. Even after this, lesbian and gay human beings faced untold misery, persecution and alienation.
Just when things were getting better in the ’70s and ’80s, the AIDS crisis hit and decimated the LGBTQIA+ community.
And what did these people do?
They fought for the rights of their community, creating a country where I can safely hold hands with the person I love.
All this is without considering bisexual, transgender, non-binary and queer people.
We’ve come so far, but we still have so far to go. We have Pride to continue this fight and build a better society for all.
Why is allyship crucial to the LGBTQIA+ community?
Allyship is incredibly important as we can’t win the fight alone.
If we go purely off numbers, 3.1% of the population identifies as lesbian, gay or bisexual (2020 Government Census).
This isn’t enough to drive change, but we stand a fighting chance with allyship!
Finally, allyship shows you care about other people.
The fight for LGBTQIA+ rights may not affect you, but an individual still caring about it speaks to values we need more of in society - compassion and community.
Are there any common misconceptions around LGBTQIA+ that you’d like to debunk?A big one relating more to gay men and older generations is that HIV / AIDS is still widespread.
HIV / AIDS was a horrific disease made even worse by the ostracisation and shame based on patients and indeed, the entire LGBTQIA+ community.
Thankfully, medical science has made huge breakthroughs meaning it’s harder than ever to contract it, and even if someone does, they can live fruitful and healthy lives.
What was once a death sentence is now a manageable and non-fatal condition - all in the space of 40 years!
What LGBTQIA+ figure inspires you?
Alan Turing was the WW2 codebreaker that was instrumental in cracking the Enigma code and stopping the spread of evil across Europe. Turing was an incredible mathematician and logician and, along with their team, worked tirelessly throughout the war to decode messages intercepted from the enemy.
They are a pinnacle of perseverance and intellect, and in my opinion, they are responsible for the freedoms I take for granted on a daily basis.
In addition, Turing was gay at a time when homosexuality was illegal and looked upon with disgust and vitriol by society.
They must have lived an incredibly sad life, unable to show affection or love to anyone without fear of persecution.
For all of Turing’s sacrifice, they were rewarded with a “Gross Indecency” conviction in 1952, with the punishment of prison or hormone therapy.
They chose the latter, which caused horrendous side effects. Ultimately, they died by suicide in 1954.
Turing’s legacy is wide-reaching, from advances in computational science and cryptography, to “Turing’s law”, which pardoned men who were cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed homosexuality.
The ongoing journey
Arron reminds us that Pride is a celebration of individual identity and a tribute to the brave LGBTQIA+ heroes who fought for equality and a better society. It serves as a reminder of the progress we have made while acknowledging that there is still work to be done to ensure inclusivity for all.
Let us carry forward these insights, celebrating Pride not just during this month but throughout the year as we work together to create a more inclusive and understanding world for everyone.
Why not read more from our LGBTQIA+ members on their views and experiences? Read Olivia’s views on celebrating Pride and confronting discrimination and Freddie's take on Enhancing LGBTQIA+ Allyship for Lasting Impact.