“I am proud to work somewhere which has over 50% LGBT+ staff, and I feel proud of the younger generation who are challenging stereotypes, boldly asserting who they are, and leading the way for us.”
To mark this years’ Pride Month, we asked LGBTQ+ staff working across the Student Hubs Network what ‘Pride’ means to them. As an organisation led by a majority queer-identifying staff team, we strive to create a culture whereby people’s activism, experiences, and authenticity is encouraged, valued and celebrated.
As a charity that strives to generate positive social change through working with university students and local communities, we do not shy away from the fact that Pride started as a riot. Pride commemorates the historic Stonewall Riots of 1969 and the proceeding three nights of protest against police brutality (headed by figures such as Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Stormé DeLarverie and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy) in the US. Now, Pride is a month marked across countries all over the world and takes many forms such as protests and parades.
What ‘Pride’ means to Student Hubs Staff:
How ‘Pride’ is celebrated, commemorated, or observed will be different according to each individual. We asked staff from across our network what ‘Pride’ means to them. In respect to our staff all being on their own individual journeys, some comments have been anonymised.
Pride as Empowerment
“Pride is a space in which we can empower others to become more educated in LGBTQ+ challenges/practices/stories. Although it shouldn’t be limited to Pride Month, I often find that it allows me to reconnect with other LGBTQ+ individuals, increase my understanding of different perspectives, and celebrate myself with others.” – Sorcha Young, Winchester Hub Programme Manager
“Pride is really complicated for me, and full of mixed feelings and meaning! I came out to my long-term partner last year as bisexual after a very challenging 2020 Pride not being able to find the words to talk about it, but there are still many people in my life who I haven’t come out to. So for Pride 2021, I feel proud that I was brave enough to come out to my partner, grateful that I’m able to be patient with myself, and happy to accept that choosing if/when to come out is a journey. I feel sad that I’m not quite there yet, and not quite willing to share the content I wish I could on my social media for celebrating Pride, but that’s okay too.” – Student Hubs Staff Member
Pride as Community
“To me, Pride is all about awareness raising and having conversations. Pride is still needed as a protest. I choose to spend Pride sharing resources created by people from across the LGBTQ+ community that highlight the continued struggle for equality. As well as connecting with fellow queer folk to celebrate each other’s continued dedication to authentic living and to create a community of love and support for those who are yet to come out or who do not wish to.” – Liz Alcock, Winchester Hub Manager
“I am proud to work somewhere which has over 50% LGBT+ staff, and I feel proud of the younger generation who are challenging stereotypes, boldly asserting who they are, and leading the way for us. Pride means a lot of different things for different people, and if you aren’t willing or ready to come out yet, or are still doing the important reflective work about your identity this Pride, all of that is okay – we see you at Student Hubs, and we wish you a happy Pride (even if it’s complicated!).” – Student Hubs Staff Member
“To me, Pride means living authentically without pressure, concern, worry, gaslight or need for validation. I imagine a world where there is no pressure to perform your sexuality or gender identity, that changing your pronouns isn’t met with a request of a backstory, and space isn’t a competition between us all. It echoes the fight of those before us, in particular trans women of colour, who fought the system and not each other. Pride means action and strength and power. Unfortunately, in my experience, the biphobia I have experienced has primarily come from LGBT+ communities, and the feeling that I don’t belong in any community feels alienating. Bisexuality is treated like a transition sexuality, and a state of indecision, where you’re gaslighted into thinking you should either be one or the other. Bisexuality, to me, is beautiful and freeing, it doesn’t belong in any binary and I want to feel joy in that, not exclusion. I feel grateful to be working for an organisation where over 50% of the workforce identify within the LGBT+ community, because it makes me feel accepted and brings out my most authentic self. I don’t feel a need to perform and that is so healing” – Laura Bea, Programme Manager, Cambridge Hub
Pride as Visibility
“Pride is not only the physical event but also a feeling that I have all year round, not just in June! I am so glad I get to be my authentic self as an adult, after a few difficult years as a teenager and be visibly queer, not only while interacting with my work colleagues but also students! I am proud to be queer and working in an organisation with majority queer staff” – Catherine, Southampton Hub Programmes Manager
“Pride has helped give me the confidence to embrace who I am. Discovering who I am and celebrating the queer parts of my identity is an ongoing journey, and one which Pride is an important part of. The act of ‘coming out’ is never a one-time event, no matter what the movies might tell you. I have come out in different ways, from offhand comments to organised conversations, and each time brings challenges but also so much joy. The feeling of being able to be my full self is one of freedom, and Pride has helped grant me that freedom by showing me in a public and magnificently colourful way that my identity is valid. Every time I progress on my journey and come out to someone new, I am supported by the momentum of Pride and the LGBTQ+ community which came before me and will follow me.
My journey is a personal one, but it is intrinsically tied to the journey of all LGBTQ+ people, and to me, Pride is a celebration of that connection. I will continue to come out for the rest of my life. As long as people assume I am not queer, I have to decide whether to come out to them or deny an important and beautiful part of my identity. Pride makes it easier to choose the former option. The visibility Pride gives the LGBTQ+ community, and the sheer excitement and fun it associates with that community, means I feel more comfortable publicly stating my place within it. It is not perfect; there continue to be issues with diverse representation, phobia within the community isolates certain queer groups, and Pride is not a fix-it which provides an ideal balm for the struggle of coming out. Despite all of that, it brings me happiness to surround myself with people whose ultimate goal is acceptance, and feel the love and support which I try every day to give myself. It is the imperfect sunshine in the rain, it is the rainbow which promises a better future for all of us.” – Elle, Bristol Hub Programmes Manager
And finally, pride as celebration. As described by Liz below…
“Pride is far more than painting your logo rainbow or hiring LGBT+ folk to speak at a one-off webinar series. It is a community, a celebration, a conversation, and a symbol of the continued struggle for equality – it is certainly not limited to June. Pride is as complex and individual as the people it represents. To allies I implore you to use this Pride month to educate yourself and your peers and to listen, to my fellow LGBT+ folk, mark this occasion in any way that feels good for you – happy Pride!” – Liz Alcock, Winchester Hub Manager