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Readers' Letters

Editor's comment: Still think we don't Pride events?

PUBLISHED: 15:02 12 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:02 12 June 2019

Organisers and supporters UK Black Pride on the steps of Hackney Town Hall. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Organisers and supporters UK Black Pride on the steps of Hackney Town Hall. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

polly hancock

Last week I had the honour of opening the Q&A at a town hall community event to launch UK Black Pride in Hackney.

Much of the discussion between mayor Phil Glanville and UK Black Pride's Lady Phyll was about why Pride events are still needed.

While the invited audience was very sympathetic, the feeling was not universal. There were some in the community in the weeks prior who opined that the event was unnecessary or even discriminatory in its own right (including one man who personally rang me to complain about it, as well as the usual army of keyboard warriors).

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Hours later, I read about plans to stage a "Straight Pride" rally in Boston. I'm surprised it's taken so long; the "straight white men as victims of identity politics" argument is a perennial favourite in below-the-line comments and in the Facebook posts I moderate for our newspapers. Someone took the time to write me a 600-word letter last year saying he was "surprised and annoyed" to learn in a Ham&High column that I was gay, complaining that "the LGBTQ fraternity [...] won't stop shouting about it".

There will be some pretty close to home who believe Pride is outdated. Not only can we now get married and adopt kids; we even (apparently) have our own operas.

The photograph on page 3 of today's Ham&High should give pause for thought to anyone entertaining those ideas. Melania and Chris were beaten up on a bus in West Hampstead because they are members of the LGBT+ community: their attackers made that clear as they jeered and threatened them.

Through a combination of luck and invisibility, it has never happened to me. But it happens. And the knowledge it could happen to any of us dicates, consciously or not, how visible we make ourselves in public: whether we hold hands; how we dress, talk and walk.

In an ideal world, we would not need Pride. But until we can be in public and forget our vulnerability to physical violence, it is place of relative safety in an unsafe world.

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