It’s weird to be a queer person who doesn’t have a coming out story. I grew up in Brighton, with very left-wing and accepting parents, so when I started to realise I liked girls as well as boys, there was no real reason to even have a conversation about it. My family had always been open when talking about sexuality and never assumed anything about mine. This type of coming out story is one that many queer people don’t get to have, so I feel incredibly blessed to have discovered myself with no shame or guilt attached.
Being a young person in Brighton, which is widely considered to be the LGBTQ+ capital of the country, meant Pride was always very familiar to me. Whenever August rolled around, it seemed totally natural that it came with parades, festivals, music, and celebrations – I never questioned that things could be different. Queerness was, and is, embedded into the fabric of Brighton. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to nurture my relationship with my own sexuality, and I truly believe my hometown is responsible for how positively I feel about being in the community.
When I compare the Prides of 2012 and 2013 to the Pride of 2021, I see that we still have a way to go. Despite my positive queer upbringing, I can still see how LGBTQ+ representation needs to change for the better. I tend not to use labels for myself, but the ones which align closest to my orientation are bisexual and pansexual, which are not easy boxes to find yourself put into. Biphobia is a huge critique of LGBTQ+ culture, with many bisexual people feeling they exist in a sort of limbo – not fitting in with straight people, but also finding themselves judged by gay people. To make things even more tricky, in the world of TV and film, the word ‘bisexual’ is still treated as a taboo. We are gradually seeing more characters who are clearly shown to be attracted to more than one gender, but writers still shy away from ‘the B word’.
As we all know, there are many people across the globe who don’t get to see and witness other LGBTQ+ people nearly as much as they should. For the bisexual community, it feels like a huge win just to have the word said out loud. The success of Rupaul’s Drag Race – one of the only mainstream TV shows which centres solely on queer people – shows how desperate the community is for representation. For a young gay or trans person who spends most of their life hiding who they are, going to a Pride event or seeing representation in a movie is essential, and potentially life-saving. One of the challenges of Covid-19 is that two years’ worth of Pride parades have had to be cancelled, further isolating those who rely on these rare moments of recognition.
It’s all too easy for me to find myself dismissing the need for better Pride representation, because I’m not necessarily someone who needs it. I love Pride. Seeing people be truly comfortable with who they are, in a safe space, with other queer folks, is genuinely wonderful. But I forget that while I enjoy Pride, there are LGBTQ+ people out there who have almost no other resources to see their identity celebrated. To them, Pride is not just a fun party. It is a necessity. For those people, it is vitally important we keep Pride alive, even with its faults, year after year.