By Paul Quain - 18 June 2021
One of the things we have to come to terms with as we grow is an acceptance of the fact that we are not the same as other people. We are all different and that is a wonderful thing.
People who are not cis heterosexual – be it gay men, lesbians, the transgender community and others - often learn to appreciate that fact when they are very young.
As a gay man growing up in a time, when being gay was nowhere near as cool as it can be now, I felt I was not normal, I felt a certain degree of self-loathing and I was prepared to go a long way to cover up my secret. People in the public eye who declared themselves gay were objects of ridicule and fun. The vocabulary around being gay amounted to terms of abuse and denigration. At the time, there was also so much stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS (and the gay community more generally) that has now, thankfully, largely (but not entirely) been consigned to history.
Then I came out.
First to a few friends. Then to my wider friendship group and then to my parents. The reaction of all, but particularly of my parents, was so accepting that I wondered (and still do) why I waited so long to tell them (I was in my mid-twenties). In fact I am still coming out. One thing which is sometimes forgotten about our community is that we are always “coming out”. Every time you meet someone new, there is a conversation you can have in your head about when (or indeed if) you let them know that you are gay.
It was a long journey getting here. 52 years ago in in the early hours of June 29 1969, patrons of the Stonewall Inn and other gay venues in New York fought back against a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, leading to six days of rioting. This become a symbolic event representing uprising from years of oppression. The Pride Movement was born. First Pride Day (28 June) was celebrated and many people now also celebrate and remember this event during Pride Month.
But this transcends the LGBTQ+ community. It gives all of us the opportunity to celebrate our own uniqueness and differences.
Happy Pride Month everybody!