What does Pride mean to you?
As a gay man, Pride has always been incredibly important to me for various reasons. It affords me the time to reflect on my own journey, celebrate the community and to reflect on the challenges we continue to face.
Quite simply, the need for Pride would not exist if queer people were freely accepted without prejudice. In recent times we have seen the rights of LGBTQIA+ people regress in several (EU!) counties including Poland where there are now “LGBTQ Free Zone’s” and recently in Hungary, where they voted 157 votes to 1 to ban LGBT content in schools. Only this week have we seen the UK overhaul the dehumanising blood donation rules, allowing gay and bi men to donate blood without discrimination. These examples of oppression, albeit the latter shows progress, act as reminder that there is still plenty of work to do both here in the UK and abroad.
What does an LGBTQIA+ ally look like for you?
Being an LGBTQIA+ ally is about helping to create an inclusive society where people can live proudly as themselves by listening, education, being visible and speaking out against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. I believe it’s relatively simple to be an ally of the community, but what’s important is acting upon all of the above – far too often people are allies, but also bystanders. We need to challenge ourselves, our friends, our colleagues and our families to do better – to call our and challenge comments, jokes and slurs.
Who is your LGBTQIA+ hero for 2021?
My hero is human rights activist and “queer terrorist”, Peter Tatchell. Recently Netflix commissioned a documentary, Hating Peter Tatchell, showcasing the extent to which Peter is willing to put his life in danger to help make someone else’s better – something he has been doing for 54 years! We owe an enormous amount of gratitude to Peter and that’s why he is my 2021 hero (and beyond!)