What does Pride mean to you?

Pride to me is about telling the person in the crowd that there’s people like them. That the future is bright. That they don’t have to feel shame for who they are. That things can get better. Whether that’s a 12 year old who identifies as a different gender or a 60 year old who is stuck in a fake straight relationship – they can see people who look like them and know that change is possible. Happiness is possible.

Tell us about your first Pride experience, what & where was it?

Pride in London in 1997. This is years before rainbow flags were on every t-shirt and shop window, before corporations jumped on the bandwagon. The flag made me shiver every time I saw it on a bracelet or a badge. And suddenly, at the age of 19, I found myself in the middle of London holding the front of the biggest pride flag in the world, being watched by thousands. It was the most amazing, liberating experience ever.

What is your favorite part of Pride?

Seeing friends and just being openly myself everywhere, with very little risk. That’s still, sadly, not always possible. We all look around us before kissing our loved ones and holding hands in the street. There’s strength in numbers that makes it so much safer during pride.

 

Do you have a favorite Pride memory?

See above!

Why do you think Pride is still important?

Because people think that because we’ve got equality in the law we have equality in the hearts and minds of everyone. One look at America tells you how close we are to politicians deciding that we’re a great group to sow division. Pride pushes back on that. But it’s an ongoing struggle and many people can’t be fully themselves outside Pride. For example, many people come to me for coaching or hypnotherapy as they have to hide parts of their story from other practitioners – whether it’s who they love, what they like doing, or who they are. They know that they can’t do that with everyone. So pride is a starting point that allows people to see who they can be, but they need allies all year round.