Hear from Trevor Stone on why Pride month is so important - both now and in the future.
June is Pride month, so I thought I would put some words together of what it all means to me and explain why I am so passionate about this whole area.
Individuality, uniqueness and freedom to be yourself – all important qualities for most of us. So, in order to be ourselves, it is important therefore that we embrace that individuality and uniqueness, but we must also remember that being yourself does not mean you have to be alone. Yet, that is exactly how it has been, and in far too many cases, continues to be for so many within LGBT communities.
I remember, not necessarily with great fondness, when I came out. I do love my home city, but it was a small city in a very catholic Ireland. No gay pubs or clubs, although we did eventually get a monthly disco, so I suppose we should have been thankful!! But, what I did have was a small network of friends and I was very grateful for them, as they gave me so much support as I wasn’t expecting the backlash caused by me trying to be my individual and unique self. The name calling, the bullying, the doors slammed in my face, the beatings – yes, the beatings - and most of that was in my workplace!!
Fast forward over a quarter of a century (am I really that old?) and has anything really changed? Well, I now live in the UK, am married and in a very happy place. Even “old” catholic Ireland has moved on, and it makes me smile to finally see and experience the hard fought acceptance, in both countries.
We have come a long way in terms of being individual, unique and having the same freedoms as everyone else, and if our long history has taught us anything, it’s that it is worth the fight. But that fight is far from over. Attitudes toward the LGBT community differs greatly in different cultures around the world. Let’s just say a trip to Russia isn’t on the cards anytime soon!!
That is why it’s even more important for us to celebrate and indeed be proud of, what’s gone before us. The past might be the past, but our history has helped us shape what we are today. We should be proud about who we are, especially given the fight we’ve had to get here. In the UK we celebrate Pride all throughout the year with various different pride events; however, June has been chosen as Pride month, as it was the month of the Stonewall riots, the protests that changed gay rights for a lot of people in America and beyond.
Pride month, and the entire Pride movement, is all about people coming together in love and friendship, to show how far gay rights have come, even if in some places there's still some work to be done. Pride month is about teaching tolerance, educating people in Pride history and continuing to move forward in equality.
People often ask, why do we need a Pride? or the old chestnut, why isn’t there a straight Pride? The answer is simple. The LGBT community have had to fight for every single right and freedom we have today, for example same sex marriage, age of consent and even having the legal right to be gay! And in 2020 I am ashamed to have to say that there is an increase in homophobic attacks, both here in the UK and around the world. People have been set upon purely because they have walked down the street holding hands or have attended an LGBT event. So, this is why we need Pride. We need to shout as loud as we can of how proud we are, and that we won’t tolerate any type of abuse.
Over the years we have seen the establishment of so many fantastic support groups, and I am so proud that VolkerWessels UK are members of Stonewall and Building Equality. By working with both, we are creating and maintaining a working environment that is welcoming, inclusive and tolerant whilst, without question, giving full support to the entire LGBT community.
I am even more proud to become an LGBT role model and use my experience to hopefully support others.