Leeds Pride: why the celebration is vital to equality

Leeds Pride: why the celebration is vital to equality

I had never attended Leeds Pride until last Saturday, after meaning to visit the previous year but unfortunately being away for the weekend. This time, I grasped the opportunity with both hands. I’ll admit that I did not know what to expect. Whilst I had spoken to the organisers prior to the event, as a journalist, I did not know what it would feel like to be involved in such a fantastic event.

Meeting my friend beforehand, we made our way down to town. We got off the bus and followed the sounds of the parade. Thousands came into view, all of whom lined the route shrouded in rainbow flags and glitter. The feeling of celebration and joy was intoxicating. I quickly draped myself in a flag and allowed my friend to put glitter on my face. From there, we followed the crowd through the city. We arrived at the stage and embraced the party atmosphere. People joyfully listened and celebrated the many talented acts who performed. Even I could not help but be swept away by the brilliant local artists in attendance. It was a joy to see people from all ethnicities and backgrounds come together. No one’s sexuality, faith, or political views really mattered to anyone. They were simply a part of a big family; there was no room for hatred or intolerance, just love and respect for all.

Photo credit: www.leedsinspired.co.uk/

 

This is why, for me and many others, Leeds Pride is so special. We still live in a world filled with bigotry and discrimination. The likes of Trump remind us this on a daily basis. Whilst there is no denying the strides which society has made, there is still much to do. Gay men, for example, are still unable to freely donate blood and many in the LGBT+ community still face prejudice on a daily basis. Pride allows everyone to challenge this, raise these issues and come together. We can build bridges, not walls, and come together rather than be pulled apart.

I have heard many argue that Pride is a waste of time but I think that they are wrong. I do not believe they fully appreciate the challenges that LGBT+ people face across the world. Simply having certain rights such as equal marriage does not mean that all issues are magically resolved. We need to tackle outdated concepts and views as well as break down the final barriers to achieve real equality. Pride of course, cannot achieve this alone. What it can do however, is demonstrate the brilliance and necessity of a fair, open, and equal society. It should inspire us all to go even further in our efforts to achieve full equality. I hope I get to see this come to fruition in my lifetime and maybe then I can concur that Pride will no longer be needed. Until then Pride is not only a wonderful day of entertainment, but vital to the achievement of equality.

Luke Maunsell

Photo Credit: Terry George. Found at http://www.leedspride.com/