Pride season is with us and last weekend I went to the Isle of Wight Pride event which has really grown in size after just a couple of years.
I grew up on the Island during my teenage years and it was a very difficult time as I knew I was gay and ‘different’ to my mates at school. It felt like a dirty secret and not one I could share with anyone, especially those closest to me.
I felt so proud of the Island for embracing their new Pride event, it’s come on such a long way since my youth when the only hint of a gay lifestyle on the Island was a ‘private party’ every Friday night at a pub!
It wasn’t until I reached my mid-twenties that I finally plucked up the courage to tell someone and it felt like a huge relief but I was still anxious about how others would be, especially my family. I remember being on holiday with my sister and finally telling her and being so relieved that she was absolutely fine with it and encouraged me to tell my mum.
I blurted this out while we were having Christmas dinner by making a remark about a TV chef I quite fancied (can’t remember who it was now!) and my mum bursting out laughing and saying “that’s fine with me son”. Since then I was able to relax around my family and we’ve become a lot closer as a result.
20 years ago, attitudes were only starting to change in the wider community and gay and lesbian people were accepted more. Despite the changes though, there are still reminders of how some people refuse to be open minded and positively disctrimate against the LGBTQ community today.
I never used to be interested in Pride marches as I felt it was unnecessarily ‘flaunting’ my sexuality and some heterosexual people still complain about these events and ask why there isn’t a ‘being straight’ march. The reason of course is that heterosexual people never faced the sort of hatred and discrimination that the gay community has faced.
That said, we are moving in the right direction and I never could have imagined 20 years on I would be watching a Pride event where I grew up!
I hope anyone growing up now won’t feel they have to keep it a secret for as long as I did.
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