Seeing couples holding hands may not seem like a big deal, but when those couples are people in same-sex relationships, it’s a huge deal.
Earlier this month, I boarded the bus with my two young daughters en-route to Sheffield’s Pride Parade and the atmosphere was electric.
This scenario was particularly poignant because it reminded me of my schooldays, when I would sit on the bus, but rather than being surrounded by love, 15 years ago I found myself surrounded by hate.
Bullies circled me as I caught my bus home, chanting: “Your Dad’s a batty man you should be ashamed!”
Until that point I’d tried to keep my Dads sexuality a secret from my school mates, I’d lie saying his partner was the lodger.
I was proud of my dad and his now husband, but I tried to hide their sexuality because I was already being targeted by bullies for being mixed race and I couldn’t cope with giving the bigots anymore ammunition.
A former friend however, one whom I confided in, outed me and well, my dad. In the end the police had to get involved as I began to not just experience homophobia at school but on my answer machine and via text message.
I was surrounded.
So that’s why it DOES matter that we live in a society where anyone who wants to, can express their love for one another without fear or prejudice. Why is gay people’s affection for one another seen as ‘putting it in your face,’ when, for straight couples, it’s normal (unless it’s excessively touchy in public! PDA’s are not really my thing but that’s just me).
Anyway back to Pride - the day was filled with colour, flamboyant entertainment and love, but there were also times of reflection, not only on how far we as a country have come, but how far we still have to go to become a completely safe and equal society.
The starkest reminder of the latter for me was when a group of so-called evangelical Christians tried to stage a homophobic protest in the midst of an otherwise love-filled Pride. Thankfully there were lots more religious people there on the day who were supporting Pride, and that group of extremists were just the minority. Nonetheless they managed to upset a lot of people. It shocked me to see first-hand how far we’ve still got to go.
But I for one will no longer be silenced and neither will my daughters. We will celebrate, singing loud and proud. As my daughters’ banner reads: “My Grand-Dads are Gay hooray!”
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