Charlie works in vaccine research at the University. She shared her story of what Pride means to her - from being bullied about her sexuality as a young person, to building a sense of community through Oxford Pride, and looking ahead about how we can take action to further LGBT+ rights.
Building community and belonging
My experience of Pride was magical. Being around like-minded people really helped me feel like I belonged and gave me genuine euphoria. I went with my best friend, my partner and my puppy and all three of them had the best time too. I got to speak to people in similar sectors of work to me and it really made me feel as if I belonged. Seeing the rainbows fly with pride was a beautiful reminder of how far we have come since the stonewall riots, but also was a reminder of how far we still have to go- but the LGBT+ community are unified in fighting for the same equality.
My experience of Pride was magical.
As someone who’s coming out wasn’t accepted and made to feel like a disappointment and an oddity to everyone around me, and as someone who was heavily bullied for being queer during school, I struggled finding my place in the community and feeling like I belonged. Attending pride is important to me because it took me so long to find my own personal pride in my queer identity, but this is a place I can be loud, proud and truly myself with complete ease and confidence. It is a message to the bullies to let them know that they did not affect me, I am still queer and I am no longer ashamed.
Pride in 2023 and beyond
Pride continues to be relevant today because of the rise in transphobia and homophobia, because there are kids in school that feel alone and like they’re not accepted or don’t belong, and pride is a powerful message that they still belong. Pride is still relevant because there are countries in the world where it is illegal to be queer. Pride will be relevant until we truly live in a world of equality.
People can continue to support the community beyond Pride month through supporting queer businesses, donating to charity, fundraising, being an ally even when other queer folk aren't around. If you hear something that is homophobic/ transphobic- even if it’s a ‘joke’, then it is your place to say something.
My vision for the future is one in where kids feel safe to be out and queer and where homophobia is a distant memory.