June is Pride month, an annual celebration of LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and intersex) communities all around the world.
Pride month is also an opportunity to peacefully protest and raise awareness of current issues facing the community. It’s a time for people to come together in love and friendship to show how far gay rights have come. It's also a time for teaching tolerance, learning about Pride history and continuing to fight for equality.
To celebrate Pride this year, we will be flying the progress flag, lighting up Time Square and changing our social media logos to the pride progress flag colours.
Pride is celebrated during June because it was the month of the Stonewall riots in 1969, the protests that changed gay rights for many people worldwide. Shortly after the protests, the first Pride event in the UK took place in 1972 where around 2,000 people attended. Now, more than a million people celebrate the festival every year in London.
This shows just how far we have come in the fight for equality, but there is still more work to be done so that everyone can be accepted for who they are. We spoke with some of our employees here at Bracknell Forest Council to get their thoughts and experiences of Pride and learn more about what it means to them.
Stephen Vegh, senior education advisor, said:
“For me, Pride is a celebration and acknowledgement of the diversity within our community, but also recognising that more needs to be done to achieve equality.
“LGBTQI+ rights have come on leaps and bounds within the UK, however, sadly we know there are some who hold discriminatory views. Pride reminds us that we should be free to love who we want and express our sexuality, gender and identity without fear of hatred.
“Love is love!”
Another member of staff at BFC said:
"Pride means being ok with the truth about yourself, and being in a place where this is both encouraged and nurtured. It's about being true to yourself and feeling free to express it.
"I think people are now getting more comfortable with expressing their identity when it doesn’t fit with traditional, binary-gendered social expectations. I’m not a massive fan of labels, I must admit, but I think it’s really good that people are feeling more comfortable to be who they really are."
Becky Kirby, application support officer, said:
"Pride is knowing that it’s OK to be yourself, even if you don’t see validation of that.
"I recently had a conversation with someone who remarked: “Well, why isn’t there a straight Pride?” This is often a question that I hear. To put it simply, it is because heterosexual people have not had to fight for their right to love. They have not been beaten up coming out of a club, just for holding the hand of the person they love.
"Keep being vocal when you see discrimination. Be kind, accepting and offer support to those around you. American NBA player, Jason Collins, was the first in the NBA to openly come out as gay. He once said: “Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start.”
Across the globe, various events are held during this special month as a way of recognising the influence LGBTQI+ people have had. Some local Pride events you may wish to save the date for are:
Heidi Coyle, project support officer, said:
“Reading Pride is a free event run by a charity who work to promote equality and celebrate the very best of the LGBTQI+ community. They work with MyUmbrella LGBT+, a volunteer led project that raises awareness of the lesser known identities.
“Their message ‘Love Unites’, really does sum up their event, what an experience. Pride for me is about everyone coming together regardless of gender, sexuality, race or ethnicity. A place to celebrate who you are, acceptance and equality.”
Bracknell Forest Council is proud to recognise and celebrate the LGBTQI+ community, and we hope you can join us in raising awareness of this important month. By doing so, we will continue to improve the attitudes of society and encourage inclusiveness.