To celebrate London Pride as well as commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, we sought out perspectives from around the Restless network on “What does Pride mean to you?”. From our board member Matt Beard, the executive director of ALLOUT to our passionate Youth Stop AIDS campaigners – check out what they have to say below.
Matt Beard, Restless Development board member and Executive Director for ALLOUT.
As the world celebrates 50 years since the Stonewall Riots, our global LGBT+ community stands on the shoulders of the brave people who stood with pride and defiance against the brutality of the NYPD back in 1969. Their bravery ignited a movement in the United States and across the world that has achieved incredible results in 50 years. Those in New York who were rounded up by the police, forcibly outed, beaten and arrested would hardly have dared to dream that within 50 years a revolution in social attitudes and laws would take place.
But we also need to remember that today nearly 70 countries make being LGBT+ a crime. Brave young people from a very different generation to the Stonewall veterans are risking everything RIGHT NOW to challenge obscene injustice. They try to exercise their consititutional right to freedom of peaceful assembly at Pride but year after year they face violence and brutality from the Government and police. They are criminalised for being who they are and face constant abuse and violence as they attempt to stand together to show their Pride.
I don’t want the activists of these countries to have to wait 50 years for dignity and equality. So Pride for me is a moment of international solidarity, enabling those in hostile environments to come together for this precious moment of empowerment and community.
Kennedy Mwendwa, Programme officer, HIV/AIDS People Alliance of Kenya, HAPA Kenya
Growing as a young gay man in the villages of Mombasa ten years ago was always hard due to stigma and discrimination. Some my fellow LGBTI members lost their lives just from socializing among themselves. I grew in fear, but over time organisations like the one I work for (HAPA Kenya) started uniting and eventually reclaiming spaces along coastal Kenya. Now we can unite and push the LGBTI agenda along. Pride is a special time of year for me, where I can reflect and enjoy life with my fellow LGBTI members. It’s during Pride that I am able to celebrate being an LGBTI champion and celebrate the safe spaces enabled for LGBTI members. Pride means recognition and celebration of humanity .
For me, PRIDE is a mix of celebration, protest, and political activism!
Jenny, Restless Development UK, Global Capacity Building manager.
PRIDE is a time where the LGBTQ+ community can come together and celebrate our diversity and contribution to the world. It represents freedom, inclusion and pure unashamed joy! To walk through crowds of cheering faces makes you feel validated, supported and encouraged to live freely. However for me PRIDE it is also a time to reflect and remember that the fight is not over, and there are thousands, if not millions, of queer people around the world who do not have the rights to dance through the streets covered in rainbows and glitter. Where we can, we have the responsibility to raise awareness and support causes so we can all know what equality feels like.
Lewis Wilkinson, Manchester Youth Stop AIDS Group Leader
To me, pride in its modern form in the UK is a symbol of progress. It’s transformed from a march into a celebration that’s attended by a more and more diverse audience each year. It’s also a reminder that we have to show solidarity to those in areas of the world where they are not so lucky so they can one day celebrate the same progress that we have achieved over the last 50 years.
Wajih Cheeda, Restless Development UK, Finance & Admin Coordinator.
For me, Pride is about continuing to fight for equality, not just in the UK but worldwide. It is the incredible contribution that the LGBT+ community have had in shaping the culture of our country. And I think especially Pride in London is about finding your place in that community, shining a light on those who need it and amplifying those who can’t be heard.
Saitee Devan, Coordinator at Young Queer Alliance
For me, Pride is about acceptance and not being ashamed of who you are. Just be yourself and be proud of it!
Pride means a lot to me. I think it measures where we have come from and what we have achieved but it also signifies what we still have left to do. It is coming together, acknowledging one another and being proud of who we are.
Owen Lukins, Newcastle Youth Stop AIDS campaigner
Pride is more than a party, it’s a commemoration of a riot. 50 years ago the first bricks were thrown, and today we remember those who fought for their rights to love and exist. To forget our past is to forget who we are: rebels and creatives, protesters and lovers. Pride is more than a party, it’s a revolution!
Lauren Mole, Restless Development volunteer
Pride is somewhere I can feel safe and meet a variety of people in similar situations to me, celebrating who we are. It’s really important to me that we recognize Marsha P Johnson and the other participants of the Stonewall riots as they helped shape the LGBT+ community and raise awareness of AIDS activism too.