What Pride Month Means to me
June marks Pride Month, a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and their history, achievements, and ongoing struggles. As part of this, Corielyn Bromley, Data Quality Specialist here at the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), shares her story of the impact Pride Month has had on her life.
During the month of June, I am reminded of the importance of Pride Month and the impact it has had on my life. It is a time to celebrate diversity, promote acceptance, and honour the LGBTQ+ community's achievements and struggles throughout history. For me, Pride Month is more than just a parade or a colourful celebration - it's a reminder of the progress we've made and the work that still needs to be done to create a world where everyone can live their truth without fear of discrimination or violence, but it also a time that I like to reflect on all of the events and people that have shaped my journey as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
I will never forget the first Pride event I ever attended as a teenager. It was an unforgettable experience that was both exhilarating and emotional. From the moment I arrived, I awed by the energy and excitement in the air. There were people of all ages, races, and genders, all coming together to celebrate love, acceptance, and equality. As I watched the floats and marchers make their way down the street, I felt a sense of pride and solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. I was struck by how incredibly happy everyone looked. The vibrant colours, music, and dancing created a sense of joy and freedom that was contagious. Everywhere I looked, there were smiling faces and open hearts. More than 20 years later, I can still remember the sense of belonging and acceptance that washed over me, something I had never experienced before. It was as if, for that moment, we were all united in our shared experiences and struggles.
I mention this because this day was one of the most powerful, defining moments on my personal journey of owning and accepting my own truth. As I watched so many people standing up for their rights and expressing their authentic selves without fear of judgment or discrimination I was in awe. I remember thinking how brave they were and wishing I could find that same strength inside myself.
It took me 13 years to find that strength. Coming out is a deeply personal and often challenging experience for anyone, regardless of their age. Coming out in your late twenties, however, can present a unique set of challenges and emotions. It involved a period of intense self-reflection and exploration, as I came to terms with my sexuality and the implications it would have for my life. It was a time of both excitement and fear, as I navigated unfamiliar territory and explored my own identity. It involved challenging the social norms and structures that I had spent my whole life adhering to and risking rejection and even discrimination from those who were not able to accept me for who I was. For me, coming out was a time of great upheaval in the relationships in my life, particularly with family members and close friends who struggled to accept my sexuality, not to mention the end of my ten-year relationship with my college boyfriend. It began a process of rebuilding trust and connection, which was terrifying at the time, but as I began this intense journey of growth, self-discovery, and connection with others I felt for the first in my life like ‘me.’ It may not seem like much, simply being yourself, but nothing will ever beat the feeling of realising that I was truly, authentically, FINALLY ‘me.’
I attended a pride parade again a year later, this time with my father and lovely fiancé. Once again, there were people of all ages, races, and genders coming together to celebrate love, acceptance, and equality, and it was a beautiful, wonderful day. I cried unashamedly the entire day as I reflected on my journey to that point. I was joyously overwhelmed by the pride and love on my father’s face, and the deep sense of belonging and acceptance that washed over me was even more intense than it had been fourteen years before. I was here again, but this time I was not afraid to the show the world who I was.
My yearly reflections have changed since then. Now, as a lesbian mother with two young boys, I worry about what my children will experience as they grow up. My fears for my children are rooted in the potential for discrimination, intolerance, and prejudice that they may face simply because of who their parents are. I worry about the impact this may have on their mental health and self-esteem, and how it may affect their ability to form healthy relationships and build a strong support system. Will it create barriers to their success and limit their opportunities in life? Despite these fears, I am committed to creating a safe and loving environment for my children, and to advocating for their rights and wellbeing.
I try to be optimistic that we can create a world where everyone can live their truth without fear of discrimination or violence because it is only in this world that my children and many other people’s children can live a life free from social rejection, legal discrimination, violence, and harassment. A life where they can see themselves reflected in the world around them, and to know that they are not alone in their experiences. I choose to believe that love and acceptance will always prevail, and that by standing together as a community, we can create a more inclusive and accepting world for future generations.