For Pride month, Brook trustee Laura Russell writes about the importance of tackling discrimination both against the LGBT+ community and within it, as well as how we can still celebrate Pride from our homes and be better allies.
Pride is about LGBT+ people coming together in protest and defiance. It’s a time to stand together against injustice and discrimination and celebrate the strength of our community.
This year, lots of local Pride events have been cancelled or postponed because of the risk of Covid-19. It’s likely that we won’t be able to hold big marches or events this season. But that doesn’t mean that Pride is cancelled; digital festivals like Pride Inside (led by Amnesty UK, Gendered Intelligence, ParaPride, UK Black Pride and Stonewall) will bring the community together in our own homes.
And while Covid-19 won’t stop us coming together to celebrate the rights we’ve won and push for those we still need, it’s important to reflect on what the pandemic has meant for LGBT+ people around the country.
For lots of LGBT+ people, Covid-19 and lockdown measures have caused significant challenges. Research from the LGBT+ Foundation found that lots of LGBT+ people are struggling with their mental health, feeling isolated and are struggling to access important services like healthcare. They also heard from lots of LGBT+ people who are struggling in lockdown situations where they can’t be themselves and – in the worst cases – are at risk of violence and abuse.
As one respondent said: “I’m transgender but not out, my parents are transphobic, having to pretend to be someone I’m not all the time is physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausting.”
These challenges are greatest for the most marginalised in our community, including trans people and LGBT+ people of colour. As Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Executive Director of UK Black Pride says, “We have not achieved equality until every LGBT person, of every colour and background, is able to enjoy equality within our community and outside of it.”
As the Black Lives Matter movement challenges racism across all areas of our society, this Pride season is also a time to consider how we can – and must – tackle racism within our community.
Research from Stonewall shows us that that half of LGBT+ people of colour face discrimination within the LGBT community, rising to three in five Black LGBT+ people.
Now is a time for white LGBT+ people to challenge racism and work to become better allies. There are lots of great resources on how you can do this; this thread on Twitter from Mireille Cassandra Harper is a really useful start. And you can support the incredible work of organisations working for LGBT+ people of colour. Stonewall’s people of colour staff network compiled a helpful list.
We also know that trans people are facing a potential roll back in rights. At a time when many trans people haven’t been able to access transition-related healthcare and don’t have face-to-face access to support services, there are rumours that the Government will be announcing changes to the law that would send trans rights backwards.
Trans-led organisations like Gendered Intelligence have been campaigning to make sure this doesn’t happen. They’re supporting trans people and their allies to take action; you can add your voice to the #TrusstMe campaign.
This year, Pride will look very different and the future often feels uncertain. But that doesn’t mean we can’t draw on Pride’s spirit of solidarity to stand up to racism, take action for trans rights and continue to show that we’re proud of who we are.
You can find more information on organisations offering inclusive support to LGBT+ during the Covid-19 pandemic on Stonewall’s website.
Laura is a Brook trustee. She’s worked in policy and campaigning roles in sexual and reproductive health and LGBT+ rights and will be moving to a new role in summer, at a fund to support vulnerable young people at risk of youth violence. She is a former co-chair of the UK’s national pro-choice campagining forum Voice for Choice.