“Pride for me is about celebrating the differences within the LGBTQ+ community and the power of our unity” – Ruth’s Pride Month story
June is Pride Month, a month dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ communities around the world. To mark the month, read Ruth’s powerful story.
My name is Ruth and I identify as a gender non-conforming woman and gay. I have worked for the Trust for 6 months now as an assistant psychologist and recently taken on a role with a new service, TransBarnsley.
Pride for me is about celebrating the differences within the LGBTQ+ community and the power of our unity. Pride should always be a protest, we cannot forget those who came before us to fight for the rights we now have. We also can’t forget the people who work tirelessly still for equality and LGBTQ+ rights both nationally and globally.
Pride starts as a personal protest of beginning to overcome that internalised homophobia/transphobia/biphobia or queerphobia and shame. Once we show our true selves to the world, once we embrace our identities and live as our authentic self that pride is shone outwards to the world. This for me begins as activism as being yourself and potentially seen as different in a world that wants to see us conform is brave and lets the world know we exist.
I was once told by someone close to me as a teenager I must want attention otherwise I would not dress the way I do or have my hair the way I do. This struck me that even at that young age, I refused to conform for other people’s comfort. Society had an idea of how I as a young woman should look and behave. As someone who has always struggled with anxiety, being noticed is not something I wished for, but being comfortable in my own skin and my own identity outweighed wanting to shy away from other’s criticisms.
LGBTQ+ people are at higher risk of mental health issues. Is this surprising when we see how our wider society treats individuals? You only have to look how the AIDS crisis was handled in the UK or the current proposed banning of conversion therapy to leave out trans people to see how our community is seen as second-class citizens. Starting work with TransBarnsley has really enabled me to explore my passion of LGBTQ+ wellbeing and especially that of the Trans community. This project is going to save lives and build a community where Trans and non-binary people feel valued, listened to and free to be themselves.
Working for the Trust where there is an LGBT+ network has been fantastic, the work that has so far been done by the network is great to see. Even something as simple as pride lanyards and pride crossings at Kendray for example go a long way in making someone like me feel valued and like I belong. This work continues by us all, whether part of the LGBTQ+ community or not. Simply learning more about other aspects of the community we may not be as familiar with and the different intersectionalities of race, class, gender etc. Thinking about how we can learn from other people’s experiences and pursuing our own learning, then crucially putting it into practice. Knowledge is power; power to be inclusive, power to treat others with the respect they deserve and the power to love ourselves.