Do we still need Pride?by
Della Hudson shares her experience of her daughter coming out as a teenager and what role Pride plays for young people coming out today.
Do we still need Pride? It was a question asked by a gay friend who had been campaigning for gay rights since the 1980s. He believed that Pride marches had been hijacked from their original purpose and become mainly an excuse for a party for LGBT+ and friends. And, at first glance, it may appear that way.
But I believe that Pride does still have its place.
When my daughter came out, I wanted to show her that nothing had changed. She was still the child that I had loved all this time. Being different will always make life harder, but that is no reason to hide who we are. And it is much easier to get through anything if you know that you are loved unconditionally.
I went through the mental list of my LGBT+ friends and asked a few if there was anything I could say or do to make her feel more at ease with herself. They told some sad tales of coming out in less enlightened times.
I imagine that a generation ago, it came as a shock to parents. They may have reacted badly and opened a rift just when their child needed them most. If that happened to you, it must have hurt deeply, and I hope that any initial reactions have now been forgiven and you have re-established a good relationship.
These days, as a result of Pride and other campaigning, there is much more awareness of LGBT+ issues. Although I’m becoming increasingly aware that there is still much more to do.
A few of my lesbian friends offered to talk to my daughter if she wanted advice. I passed on the offer but, let’s face it, what teenager wants to talk to her mother’s friends? Younger members of your team may be struggling with no sympathetic support at home or even with active problems and abuse.
We need to be aware of these issues and at least support them in the workplace. And it isn’t just youngsters who are realising that they don’t fit into the heteronormative stereotype. It can be an even bigger emotional upheaval coming out or transitioning at a later age.
Everything is different as you make changes in your life. Where do you start with simple things such as choosing female work clothes if you’ve spent most of your life dressed as a male? It’s not always about making a statement; most people just want to live their own quiet lives. But there can be a lack of information about the small details of life.
I attended a talk by Ruth Hunt of Stonewall and she mentioned how she had struggled to find books to read for a teenager realising that she was different. She kindly offered some suggestions of fiction writers for my daughter who is an avid reader. I may have gone over the top with my Christmas shopping that year!
But what really seemed to make the difference was when we went to Bristol Pride that first year.
Neither of us was sure whether we were going to spectate or join in. We watched the end of the parade pass us by and then tagged onto the end. But my daughter was soon racing into the middle of the crowd as if she had finally found her place. Her people.
Me? I just wanted to offer sun cream to the scantily clad lad walking alongside me and to offer a hug to somebody on the other side describing their transition as bad as a second puberty.
And I was so proud of my daughter.
Straight kids don’t have to come out. Cis youngsters don’t have to transition. In the terrible world of teenage angst, they have it relatively easy. That Pride march was the day my daughter was proud to be gay and I was proud to be her mother.
But the following year was even better. I escorted seven teenage girls on the parade and to lunch afterwards. Seven wonderful girls with rainbow coloured nail polish who were proud to call my daughter their friend as they walked beside her in solidarity.
Do we still need Pride? I’m glad we do.
And if you want to come out I’ll be happy to walk beside you too. I’ll even bring the sun cream.
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Della Hudson was part of the class of 2009. She built up Hudson Business Accountants and Advisers from her kitchen table to a small team of flexible workers with independent premises in Nailsea, near Bristol. The firm ran regular Money Matters seminars and other training and webinars. Della sold the firm in 2017 in order to focus on the...