This Thursday we launched our Proud To Be Me campaign in Cineworld Cardiff. The evening saw lots of our stakeholders; partners, sponsors, local community groups and supporters gather together to celebrate the campaign. Among the prosecco and pizza we had a few speeches, these words were so important to us that we wanted to share them with you. Here’s what our Chair Lu Thomas had to say:
This will be my 5th year as Chair, and whilst I joke and dream of a time when my evenings were my own, when I actually spent quality time with my wife, and I had friends that I actually saw face to face rather than flurries of Whatsapp messages… what an amazing 5 years it has been.
When I agreed to help out, we were on ours knees, minus £40k in the bank. A community that really didn’t value the event. No committee. No board. No money. No venue. But we did have a determination that we would rebuild.
We rebranded to Pride Cymru – and moved back to Cooper’s field for a single day event. That first year, we had 4,500 attendees and had no parade. To bring our achievements into perspective, last year we moved to the much larger, more visible and prestigious Civic Centre. For a 3 day event. A parade with 10,000 marchers, and 50,000 visitors and spectators over the weekend.
I’m not naturally someone who likes to show off – but I am enormously proud of my team and I like to show them off to everyone I meet. Each and every one of them commits so much energy and time to making Pride what it is today and they strive each year to build and make it bigger and better.
I say to everyone, Pride Cymru is not just an event in Cardiff. It is an event for Wales and for Cardiff.
What do I mean by that?
We do not own Pride Cymru – it is you the community that owns Pride Cymru. It reflects who we are as a community and as a nation. It is a celebration of equality, a commitment to ensure that everyone is able to live their lives free of hate. Free from abuse. Free from bigotry and from discrimination in all its forms.
I get asked occasionally, “Why does Pride matter? What are you protesting for? You have everything you wanted. You can marry, get a job, live openly. You have laws that protect you. You are represented in the Assembly, or Houses of Parliament. No one cares anymore if you’re gay.”
Well in part that is true. Our movement has come a very long way.
However, the successes of the LGB rights movement has certainly benefited some of us, but not all.
Today marks the anniversary of Section 28. For those of you who remember, and those of you just learning what that meant and how it impacted on our community, let me tell you – it is not just history. Schools and local authorities were banned from promoting ‘homosexuality’.
Maggie Thatcher, the Prime Minster at the time stated:
Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay. All of those children are being cheated of a sound start in life. Yes, cheated!!
Section 28 was a mean spirited, nasty and homophobic piece of legislation that attempted to deny the existence of same sex attraction. That hoped if we all stopped talking about it, we could just pray gay away! It was wrong and its supporters were wrong.
We can look back 30 years later and think, My god did people really think like that?
Yes, is the simple answer. They did.
And what is depressing to me is that this sort of thinking has not been consigned to the history books. It is very much alive and well today. Only now, it is not focussed on gay men and lesbians, it still pervades amongst us against our Bi community – you still hear: “Just choose which one you prefer,” “You’re just greedy” etc.
But it is our trans community that bears the brunt of the full force of hate and bigotry today.
Only this week, I was giving evidence before the Vale of Glamorgan Councils education scrutiny committee. They have produced a trans inclusion toolkit and much credit to them, they’ve worked extremely hard to produce a document that is meant to assist teachers and support staff to support their trans students. Nothing sinister. Nothing ‘promoting’ or ‘recruiting.’ Just a good document made with good intentions.
However, it has been met with a wave of protest from seemingly well-intentioned ‘concerned parents’ demanding that the council withdraws the document. They believe that there is a ‘trans agenda’ to actively encourage our young people to become trans. Just like they thought you could become gay by talking about it 30 years ago.
They believe that providing gender neutral toilets or allowing our trans kids to use the facilities that reflect their true selves will mean that our girls are going to be the victims of sexual assaults.
They believe that trans people are perverts, mentally unstable sexual predators that are only transitioning to attack women in women-only spaces.
They do not accept that trans women are women. They wish to exclude. To ridicule, to diminish and to deny trans people’s rights to exist.
The trans exclusionary radical feminists are using every old trick in the book in their fight against equality for everyone and our hard-fought rights to live as our true authentic selves.
They must not be allowed to win. Today of all days, as we launch our #proudtobeme campaign and mark the enactment of Section 28 – we must come together to stand up to hate and bigotry.
It is the very essence of the Pride Movement.
A visible embodiment that it is OK TO BE YOU.
This is why in 2018, our political focus will be on fighting for our trans brothers and sisters to be accepted without question. That they may live, work and love freely. To have the same rights, dreams, aspirations that you and I take for granted. To know that their family, friends and colleagues accept them, encourage, love and support them to live their true authentic selves.
But we cannot fight this alone. Just like 30 years ago – the LGB+ community and our allies must stand in unity against transphobia.
And that’s where you all come in. As supporters of Pride Cymru I want you all to be vocal, confident and proud trans allies. I want you to go out and fight the hate and bigotry thrown at our trans family with the same efforts and gusto that our LGB allies had for us in the 80s.
Do not accept the argument that the trans exclusionists have a point – they do not.
Do not believe that the debate is part of legitimate political discourse – it is not.
Do not be bullied into believing that you do not have the right to speak out on these issues because you are a man, or you are not trans, or because someone tells you that you are not a feminist.
The trans exclusionists are not the arbiters of womanhood.
Do not accept that it is a choice. Do not accept that trans people are weird, strange, or sexual predators whose sole aim is to attack women and children.
These attacks are a direct echo of the past. They were rejected then. And they must be reject now.
If you proudly speak up against hate and bigotry targeted against our black and Asian communities, or our disabled colleagues, or our female co-workers, or our elderly neighbours, or our gay cousins, or lesbian mothers, but stand silent when you witness transphobia because you are afraid of getting it wrong, or believe it is not your fight to have – then please educate yourself, ask, read, invite some of my trans colleagues in to your workplaces and we’ll provide some educational workshops.
If you are here representing an organisation or your employers, please I want you to think: Are you doing enough to combat transphobia? What can you do personally to assist us?
Ask yourselves: Are you being a good ally? Are you being the person you needed when you were coming out?
Let me be clear – it is not good enough to simply support your local Pride event. We are not true allies if we only fight for the rights of only the LG and B. Until we acknowledge this – until we fight tooth and nail for our trans family – we have not won the war, and we should not celebrate until we do.
Have a think tonight: What will you do to make the difference?
Do you want to get involved with Pride Cymru? Sign up & volunteer! Email Henry@pridecymru.com