PRIDE: THE MISSION IS NOT YET ACCOMPLISHED

LGBTIQ Pride is still important, because it honours, remembers and serves the LGBTIQ communities of the past, present and future

Every year I hear people talk about how the Pride march has become irrelevant.

“Gay people are equal now!”

“What else do the gays want?”

“Maybe we should start a Straight Pride parade!”

In terms of equal rights for gay and straight people, Malta is now at the top of the crop with laws that protect and empower gay, lesbian and transgender people in their private, public and work lives. In a way, we have moved so far in so little time that it may seem like we’ve always been here; like we’ve always valued our LGBTQI brothers and sisters as much as we do now.

A couple kiss in Trafalgar Square. Source: Rob Stothard/Getty Images

But we didn’t, and we still have a long way to go. That is exactly the reason why we need to continue to hold and attend Pride.

To Honour: The struggle was incredibly real for members of the LGBTIQ community – a struggle which is still present in many members’ lives. Lobby groups pushed and worked hard for decades to get the governments of the past to even listen to what they had to say, let alone implement measures that would safeguard them. The moment we forget that will be the moment the battle for equality ends and we start regressing.

To Remember: LGBTIQ people didn’t just suffer in public through discrimination at work, bullying and homophobic attacks. Their uphill battle extended to private life, where one would expect to feel safe. Feeling unwanted and unloved by family and friends; feeling unworthy of love; feeling different – those were personal realities that affected the lives and mental health of many people. They deserved justice and got served discrimination. The fight for equality is a small way of telling them: We hear you; we understand what you went through; and we’re working so no one feels the same way ever again.

To Serve: Whenever you see a same-sex couple holding hands or getting married; whenever you cross over one of the many rainbow crosses in Malta or Gozo; remember that those things didn’t come easy or free. There is a history behind them that is still being written. In fact, Pride continues to fight the stigma that surrounds same-sex adoptions (which, although legal, are still a taboo), and against the fact that LGBTIQ people are expected to go through a coming-out process with their family and friends, among others.

Which leads me to the question of Straight Pride. As a straight man, I never had to go up to my parents or friends and tell them I slept with girls. I never had someone deny me the right to be with the person I loved based solely on my genitals. I never got bullied for sleeping with girls – if anything, it was the opposite! So no, we don’t need Straight Pride, because we never had to fight for our sexuality to become normalised. It was done automatically for us through movies, adverts, love songs, and laws – look around if you haven’t noticed.

Do you agree with James? Do we still need Pride?

Let us know in the comments section below.