It took me a long time to really grasp the importance of Pride.
It wasn’t until I’d eventually learned to love myself for being LGBTQ+, celebrate that I was part of a magical community packed with courage, compassion and a unique bond that binds us all together.
Pride is a party, for sure – I’ll be the first to lose my voice shouting Kylie bangers from the top of my lungs for days on end. But for us, it’s the time to remember our painful history, the heroes who paved the way to make our lives infinitely better than they otherwise would have been, and remember that together we’ve still got a long journey ahead to reach the day when we can be LGBTQ+ anywhere in the world without fear or punishment.
As Metro.co.uk kicks of our content for Pride month this year, most of you will hopefully know that LGBTQ+ coverage isn’t something consigned to just once a year for us. It’s something that we strive to deliver consistently.
Raising awareness and sharing the experiences – good and bad – of the LGBTQ+ community is crucial, which is why when it comes to Pride month, we like to give that little bit extra – and there’s a good reason for this.
I’ve never felt prouder to be part of the LGBTQ+ community as a gay man that I do right now. The future generations coming through, who will be marching in the Prides of tomorrow and years to come, are living their lives with authenticity that so many of us couldn’t even have dreamed of just years ago.
But still, it’s not always easy. Less than half of LGBTQ+ people feel safe where they live, according to a recent survey. I live in London, one of the most accepting cities in the world, and even I am becoming increasingly nervous just to hold my boyfriend’s hand in public as opposition to our community, particularly our trans brothers and sisters, gets louder and more visible each day.
That’s it’s still so vital to champion LGBTQ+ voices so often lost or ignored in the debate around our lives.
Over the next four weeks and beyond – as Pride doesn’t stop just because London’s had it’s celebration – we’ll be bringing back our brilliant celeb Agony Aunt column, which features the likes of Rosie Jones and Duncan James, as well as sharing the real life experiences of people from the LGBTQ+ community. Such as Mina, who came out as trans after 14 years of marriage, and Stewart O’Callaghan who talks about the importance of LGBTQ+ inclusive healthcare for people living with cancer.
We’ll also be introducing our new series – which again will continue running long after Pride month – Pride and Joy, which shares uplifting stories of trans people, while our My Platform podcast will focus on the experiences of people from the LGBTQ+ community, including Drag Race star Crystal and father of four adopted disabled children Gary Ratcliffe.
Of course, we’ll have our usual dollop of Pride fun, fashion and festivals, alongside an exploration of what it’s like for queer young people in 2023. In our exclusive report out today we talk to the charity Just Like Us about the importance of being supported at home and at school while growing up LGBTQ+, and the huge difference it can make.
This is just one of the many pieces we are doing as part of Metro.co.uk’s theme for Pride 2023, which is family – and whatever that means to the LGBTQ+ community.
For me it means unconditional love and acceptance – be that from my relatives or the chosen family I’ve picked up along the way. For others it could be the journey to bring children into their lives, or finding solace and friendship through shared experiences.
In another piece out today, we speaking to people about what it means to them. Vicar Giles Goddard tells us that it’s his church congregation, while LGBTQ+ historian Mok O’Keefe, ‘family means without judgement – only love’.
But what does it mean to you? Whether you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally (like the brilliant Mel B, who says the Spice Girls ‘wouldn’t have happened’ without support from the gay community), we’d love to hear your thoughts.
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