Another year brings another pride week, where we celebrate the progress of LGBT+ persons and its acceptance British society. In the UK, gay people were barred from the military until 2000. Civil partnerships, the precursor to gay marriage, weren’t legalised till 2005. There’s a lot of progress to be celebrated, but the sad predicament remains that for some members of the LSE community, Pride week is the only time they can openly be themselves.
I come from a country where there’s no Pride parade, let alone a Pride week. I come from a country which criminalises sex between adult men. When I first came to the UK nearly 7 years ago, what struck me was the confidence that LGBT+ people had. Back home, LGBT+ people were much less expressive and much less willing to talk about those basic exploratory questions, classics like “When/how did you realise that you were gay?” and “Have you told your parents yet?”. There were some vocal activists, most people preferred keeping their heads down and suppressing themselves. The threat of violence was all too real. The air of freedom and culture of open acceptance is an extremely liberating sensation to someone who has never experienced it. It’s the first step to renewing the confidence and happiness they have long missed.
My message to the wider LSE community and UK LGBT+ community is this. Appreciate your freedom but remember the fight is not over; there are too many people in other countries forced into pretending to be something they aren’t.