Life & Living

By Rachel Gilbert

Growing up, I didn’t really know that queer people existed. There weren’t any “out” figures in my life, and casual homophobia was thrown around by family and friends. I didn’t realise I was gay until I was 17, and I certainly didn’t come to terms with it until years later.

I thought something was wrong with me and that I should be hiding who I was. Looking back at my classmates from school there were several of us that identified as LGBTQ+ but none of us came out until much later. 

Representation matters. If young queer people don’t feel they have a safe space, or see themselves reflected in the media, they won’t
feel comfortable living as their authentic selves.

Pride month and accompanying events are vital to helping people accept who they are and celebrating identity. Pride is empowering to those in attendance and can give others the courage to be themselves.

Not only is pride a celebratory event, it is a time to reflect and remember the work that has been done so people
can live their true lives. June Pride Month marks the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots where
LGBTQ+ protesters stood up against police raids on the Stonewall Inn in Lower Manhattan on 28 June 1969.

It is also a time to think of the work still to be done. More than 70 countries still have laws criminalising homosexuality. Every Pride event, no matter how big or small, will have an impact. It may be on an individual level, or be steps towards bigger changes.

Here are some ways you can support Pride.

Attend Pride

This one seems like a bit of a no-brainer! Attend pride and celebrate LGBTQ+ identity — as a member of the community, or as an ally. Pride events are a chance for queer people to reclaim rights and freedoms in public spaces they may have been excluded from. Straight people are more than welcome at Pride, just consider how you can be a good ally. Support the community beyond the party atmosphere of Pride and stand up against hate if it is safe to do so.

Educate yourself

Pride is a huge, celebratory party everyone should enjoy. However, don’t enjoy the party without knowing why you’re there. LGBTQ+ people aren’t there for your entertainment once a year. Research the history of Pride and the Stonewall Riots. Pride is rooted in protest and resistance, although it is a celebration, recognise that there is so much work still to be done. It is important to have fun at Pride, but remember it isn’t just an occasion to get drunk.

Consider LGBTQ+ policies in your workplace

Diverse workplaces are proven to be more profitable and productive. Consider the LGBTQ+ experience in your workplace — are they offered the same benefits as straight employees with regards to parental leave and adoption leave? Can you foster a gender neutral environment by using gender neutral pronouns and bathrooms? Make sure all employees are educated on the diversity policies and consider whether there is a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ staff. Remember you may not know if there are members of the queer community on staff if they aren’t comfortable coming out; it isn’t your job to force anyone to come out,
but rather create a safe environment for everyone. 

Volunteer or Donate

If you have the capacity to do so, consider volunteering or donating to LGBTQ+ charities or safe havens. Organisations such as The Albert Kennedy Trust (akt)  help homeless LGBTQ+ young people. According to the their website, 24% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+, and 77% of them believe coming out to parents was a factor. In East Anglia, the Norfolk LGBTQ+ project is a charity offering support, information and advice.
You could also see how you can get involved in supporting a safe Pride event.

However you are celebrating Pride this year, remember that this is a time for reflection and progress. We all love a bit of rainbow merch, but consider whether this actually supports the community or acts as virtue signalling. Do your best to educate yourself and make sure you are a welcoming ally to LGBTQ+ people in your life.

Pride Events in East Anglia

Norwich Pride was born in 2009, with only a few hundred people in attendance. It has since grown to host thousands of attendees every year and is one of the biggest Pride events to stay fully free and accessible to all. 

Julie Bremner is one of the founders of Norwich Pride and has been involved with the event every year since. She said: “It isn’t always about being bigger. I want it to be free, accessible and for everyone to have a good time.”

This year Norwich Pride will be closing down Theatre Street for an all-day street party. There will be a maker’s market in Chantry Place, an art exhibition at Assembly House and the Pride Parade will leave City Hall at 13.00. Chapelfield Gardens will have entertainment, stalls and the Pride Show all afternoon and evening.  

One of Julie’s favourite moments at Norwich Pride each year is seeing the rainbow flag raised above Norwich Castle. Her goal in founding Pride was to turn Norwich rainbow. 

“It never ceases to amaze me when I see the impact,” Julie said. “I have a passion for putting in the time to create that impact.”

“I am really looking forward to celebrating our fabulously diverse LGBTQIA+ community with everyone in 2022 – back on the streets, marching together and being loud and proud,” Julie said. “Norwich Pride will always be a protest to me; we try to stay relevant by ensuring we reflect the issues we face as we continue to strive for equality. Raising the voices of trans people and empowering queer people of colour will always be central to our work. We try and ensure this is reflected in the event we organise and hope everyone will join us in Norwich on Saturday 30 July 2022.”

Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Pride will take place on 20 August in Kings Lynn. The annual event promises to be bigger and better than ever with live entertainment, stalls and a parade. 

The event will culminate with Pride in the Park, a party and celebration of the LGBTQ+ community in West Norfolk. Wristbands are now on sale in several locations, with each purchase directly supporting the cost of hosting Pride events.

Great Yarmouth Pride’s “One World, One Heart, One Pride” event will take place on Saturday 3 September. 

“This year the parade will make its way along the seafront before turning up through the town transforming Great Yarmouth into a glorious sea of colour,” organisers said.

The parade will culminate with a ticketed, staged event. This will pay tribute to to Kevin Cantwell who died earlier this year and was known for his drag act Alexis St Clair. The event will feature acts, food stalls and bars.


Join to get our magazine in your inbox