Updated: May 27
June has finally arrived again, carrying with it warmer weather, and the iridescent colours of Pride Month.
Celebrated globally in honour of the LGBTQI+ community, Pride Month is not just a commemoration, it is an unabashed, exuberant celebration of individuality, diversity, and acceptance.
Our blog will take you on a journey through the history of Pride, celebrate the achievements of LGBTQI+ individuals in the UK, delve into recent statistics and discuss intersectionality within the community, and examine the experiences of LGBTQI+ individuals in the workplace.
The History of Pride in the UK
The Pride movement's roots date back to the late 1960s, fuelled by the Stonewall riots in New York. However, the flames of this transformative movement would soon cross the Atlantic, igniting a spark of change within the UK. The first UK Gay Pride Rally took place in London on 1 July 1972, coinciding with the date of the Stonewall riots. Over the years, this celebration of love and acceptance has morphed into a parade of vibrancy, with cities across the UK holding their unique Pride events.
Pride has evolved to embody more than just a single parade or event. Through festivals, educational events, parades, and parties, Pride Month provides a platform for the community to voice their experiences, demand equality, and celebrate their identity with pride.
The LGBTQI+ Community: A Statistical Insight
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) captures the demographics of the LGBTQI+ community through the UK Census. According to the 2021 Census in England and Wales, a new milestone was achieved as sexual orientation was included as a voluntary question for individuals aged 16 and above. Out of 44.9 million people who responded, making up 92.5% of the population aged 16 and over, around 1.5 million people, or 3.2%, identified as having an LGB+ orientation. This group encompasses those identifying as "Gay or Lesbian", "Bisexual", or those indicating "Other sexual orientation".
For those who didn't feel represented by the traditional categories and chose "Other sexual orientation", the term "pansexual" was the most frequently written response, with approximately 112,000 individuals (0.23%) identifying as such. Other popular write-ins included "asexual", tallying up 28,000 individuals or 0.06% of the respondents, and "queer", chosen by 15,000 individuals, amounting to 0.03% of the population.
Diversity within the LGBTQI+ Community
The LGBTQI+ community is an umbrella that encompasses a spectrum of identities. This includes lesbian (women attracted to women), gay (men attracted to men), bisexual (individuals attracted to both men and women), transgender (individuals whose gender identity differs from their assigned sex), intersex (individuals who do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies), and more. There's also the asexual community (individuals who do not experience sexual attraction) and the pansexual community (individuals attracted to people regardless of their sex or gender identity). Each subgroup within the community carries its unique struggles and experiences, united by a common pursuit of acceptance and equality.
Intersectionality within the LGBTQI+ Community
Intersectionality is an essential lens through which to understand the LGBTQI+ community's experiences. It emphasises the overlapping social identities (race, gender, sexuality, class, etc.) that can compound discrimination and marginalisation. For instance, a Black gay man's experience is shaped not only by homophobia but also by racism, and these experiences are not mutually exclusive but intertwine.
Recent years have seen increased visibility and discussion around Black and minority ethnic individuals within the LGBTQI+ community. Intersectionality underscores the importance of recognising the diversity of experiences within the community, leading to more inclusive activism and policy-making.
Experiences in the Workplace
Despite significant strides in societal acceptance and legal protection, LGBTQI+ individuals still face unique challenges in the workplace. In a recent Stonewall report, it was found that 18% of LGBTQI+ employees had been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues in the last year due to their identity. Moreover, 35% of LGBTQI+ employees have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination.
It's more important than ever that businesses actively promote a safe and affirming workplace for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Employers can show their support for the LGBTQI+ community by enacting non-discrimination rules, encouraging diversity and inclusion training, ensuring that all employees have access to the same benefits, and cultivating a positive work environment.
Progress and Accomplishment to Be Celebrated
It is crucial to recognise the outstanding contributions of LGBTQI+ people across fields as diverse as politics, entertainment, science, and sports. There are many LGBTQI+ people who have made important contributions to their fields and to society, including icons like Marsha P. Johnson, Goronwy Rees, Justin Fashanu, Nicola Adams, and Phyll Opoku-Gyimah.
Despite facing many obstacles, the rights of LGBTQI+ community in the UK has made some progress in recent years, although there is still much more to do. The United Kingdom passed a law in 2013 making it legal for people of different sexes to marry. The government of the United Kingdom recently pledged to outlaw the damaging practice of conversion therapy, which aims to alter a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
A More Inclusive Future, in Conclusiveness
The push for tolerance and inclusion continues. Every June, we are reminded of how far we've come and how far we still have to go during Pride Month. Together, we can create a more welcoming and accepting future if we take the time to learn about and appreciate the many perspectives represented by the LGBTQI+ community.
Pride Month is a time to remember those who battled for equality and acceptance, to show support for those who are still fighting, and to work toward a world in which everyone feels safe and comfortable being themselves. It's a time to celebrate the power of love that knows no bounds, to celebrate diversity, and to encourage acceptance.
The month of June should be used for introspection, activism, and celebration. Let's keep recognising how much our society benefits from the unique perspectives of those who identify as LGBTQI+.
After all, Pride is something to celebrate every day of the year.