Future Voices: What Pride means to me
- Credit: copyright: Archant 2014
I first went to Pride a few months after I came out. I went as part of BLAH LGBT Youth Project; I'd started going to the youth group the day I came out on Facebook and, even though I didn't know anyone, the group made me feel comfortable and included from day one: it was so nice to know that for once, I wasn't the only gay person in the room, the odd one out.
For my first Pride, I went for me - to be proud of myself that I was comfortable with people knowing I was gay and happy to join in the celebrations of my local gay community.
Over the next three years I continued attending BLAH to meet up with the great group of friends I had made and this allowed me to become more self-assured that I am OK: it is the homophobic people who are wrong, not me.
Three years on from Pride 2011, it is still important for me to attend Pride events, not just to celebrate being a part of the community, but because of the symbolism that I believe Pride has for many people. It is a symbol of hope for those who are not yet confident enough to come out. Homophobic people protest against Pride events, and therefore against me, year after year, in countries and cities all over the world, including Norwich.
Homophobic abuse is still far too common for far too many people. Some people's lives are endangered simply for not being born heterosexual. For as long as these things are true, I will keep attending Pride events to show others that LGBT individuals are not second-class citizens who are unworthy of equal rights. We are not going to be ashamed and hide away.
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Unless you know what it's like to risk being abused in any way by a stranger or a friend for telling them one fact about yourself that does not affect them in any way, you won't understand the importance of a Pride event.
Visit www.blahyouth.co.uk to find out more about the support in Norfolk for young gay, lesbian, bisexual people, or those questioning their sexuality or gender identity.
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Kirsty Bailey, 20, Felthorpe