For the past few years members of our equality team have been urging me to attend Belfast Pride in support of our LGBT colleagues. Every year I always had a reason/excuse that I was too busy on that day.
Earlier this year I watched a film about the campaign for Equal Marriage in ROI. As I watched I became more aware than ever of the rights of LGBT people in our community. So moved was I that I decided right there and then that I would make sure that I attended the event this year to show my support for LGBT colleagues.
As the day passed I never gave a thought as to how much the presence of non-LGBT colleagues would mean to those who are LGBT. But then as arrangements were being progressed for Derry Pride this weekend, the following was sent in. When you read this, I hope you stop for a while and consider if you can attend this weekend – your support, through your presence, could mean so much to someone who may be struggling and who needs to know that they are not alone. This is what was sent in for inclusion in promotion of the day.
The I that I am, untold, unseen, hidden fearful of society’s spite.
Closeted, closed, clothed in that which I am not, society accepts.
Disillusioned, despairing that the hidden I be recognised,
shown only in the darkness of anonymity, the I that is seen is not me.
With myself, I watch our years slip by and with them, what might be.
Calling, crying, shouting to the world when I know it cannot hear,
The nature if the I that I am, pleading acceptance.
Ten years have gone by since I have written this and I write it now.
In ten years time I will write this and think of ten years time.
“I knew the guy who wrote this, I did not like him very much.
A very sad person who contemplated suicide. I know this because that person was me.
That is why Pride is very important to me and should be for all of us irrespective of our sexual orientation. It gives hope of acceptance to the fearful, closeted teenager and adult, hope to the bullied and battered by homophobes. It reaches out to those that fear being hanged in Iran and Saudi Arabia, to those who are beaten half to death then burned alive in Africa. Pride cries for those who are bound hand and foot, thrown of buildings then stoned to death.
Pride, as at stonewall, cries out “No more” and celebrates life.
Equal rights are Human rights and common to all Humanity so all of us have a responsibility to our humanity to ensure that Human Rights apply to all.
Many people have LGBT friends and relatives – children, aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters and parents. Pride is a wonderful chance to show solidarity with them.
Finally Pride celebrates inclusiveness and diversity and I am very proud that so many of my straight NIAS colleagues marched at Belfast Pride and we need our straight allies at Foyle and Newry Prides.”