Pride month Lee Cawley  V1 06.2022-01

Why we celebrate Pride Month

As this year’s Pride Month comes to an end, Lee Cawley, member of our Wellbeing and Inclusion team and an LGBTQ+ network co-chair at the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), reflects on why we celebrate Pride Month and what it means to him.

Pride is a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, a celebration of anyone being able to love and live with whoever they like, and an opportunity for LGBTQ+ people to be proud of who they are, hence the term Pride. Of course, Pride events aren’t exclusive to LGBTQ+ people. Anyone can take part and be involved; it is there for us all to celebrate anything and everything LGBTQ+.

June is known as Pride month, mainly because the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York happened in June. These are known as the start of the modern LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. LGBTQ+ civil rights have improved so much since then, many of them enshrined in UK law, so why do we still need Pride events if LGBTQ+ equality is so much improved?

For me, it’s because I still have altered experiences because I am LGBTQ+ in comparison to people who aren’t. I came out in 1997 when I was 18. I was fraught with anxiety, worry, and fear of an adverse reaction from people I cared about. I lost friends, I lost my part-time bar job, and I was physically attacked too. I didn’t come out just this once though, I came out several times to different people and still do now when I meet new people or access some services. Although I am used to it now, there’s always a bit of doubt when I do come out, every day I’ve felt it for the past 27 years. Until I don’t feel that pang when I do tell people, I still need Pride.

I’m married to a wonderful man, but we can’t hold hands in the street for fear of being attacked. Figures obtained by the BBC reveal that the number of reported homophobic hate crime cases almost trebled, from 6,655 in 2014-15 to 18,465 in 2019-20. Until I don’t have that fear, I still need Pride.

We can’t walk into a travel agent and go anywhere on holiday without having to first research if it is safe for us. We missed a close friend’s wedding in Uganda because LGBTQ+ people face life imprisonment there. Until I can travel freely, I still need Pride.

I’m one of the millions of LGBTQ+ people around the world, many living in secrecy because they have to for many different reasons. So when I say, ‘I still need Pride’, what I really mean is, until everyone can be their true selves, in every sense, we all need Pride.

Pride events in July

While Pride Month has come to an end, we have some external events coming up in July where the NHSBSA will have information stalls. Please come and say hello.

Saturday 9 July: Sparkle Weekend: Taking place in Manchester we will be having an information stall in the marketplace. This is the world’s largest celebration of the Transgender and Non-Binary community Sparkle Weekend | Sparkle - The National Transgender Charity.

Saturday 23 July: Northern Pride (also UK Pride): Taking place in Newcastle. We’re going to be a main supporter this year with a stall in the rainbow village, and attendance at the glitter ball.

Saturday 23 July: Eastbourne Pride: Taking place in Eastbourne, we will be having an information stall which will be our first time at this Pride.