Today marks the start of Pride month, when LGBTQ people come together to reflect on the progress made towards equality, raise awareness of current issues facing the community, and celebrate in the spirit of solidarity.
It’s also an opportunity for allies to show their support and make sure that LGBTQ individuals feel comfortable enough to be their true selves. In the present moment, this is more important than ever. The Covid-19 crisis has exposed and intensified systemic inequalities for the LGBTQ community, with LGBTQ people reporting worsening mental health, financial difficulties, increasing risk of domestic abuse, homelessness and isolation.
The pernicious rise of homophobia, transphobia and biphobia during the pandemic has pushed LGBTQ individuals even further to the margins. According to a study from University College London and Sussex University, 69% of LGBTQ respondents surveyed suffered from depression during the pandemic, while 90% of those who experienced homophobia or transphobia reported similar depressive symptoms. A recent study from DIVA and Stonewall released for Lesbian Visibility Week, meanwhile, revealed 77% of LGBT+ women and non-binary people are experiencing worse mental health as the result of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns.
The arrival of Pride gives us a chance to address this. That’s why, this month, the Maya Centre is renewing our commitment to creating an inclusive space for women from all backgrounds, without exception. “I’m delighted that Pride Month gives us this opportunity to reflect more specifically on the needs of LGBTQ women, who, as this research shows, are currently let down by a system that has yet to catch up with what inclusion really means – a multiplicity of identity and experience which we must, as the women’s sector, strive to meet and respond to,” says Emma Brech, CEO of the Maya Centre.
While encouraging tolerance is an important step in the path towards equality, we also believe the LGBTQ community deserves to be respected, embraced and celebrated. It’s a challenge to live freely and openly while prejudice and discrimination goes unchecked; and it’s everyone’s responsibility to increase our efforts to fight it. And so, as ever, it means setting our sights on action.
It means lobbying the government to push ahead with passing equality and anti-discrimination laws. It means raising awareness of issues affecting the LGBTQ community on social media, and amplifying the voices of the most marginalised among us. It means supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives. It means donating to LGBTQ organisations, if you can afford to do so. It means learning more about LGBTQ history. It means embracing LGBTQ culture, and encouraging those around us to do the same. It means creating safe, inclusive spaces in our schools, workplaces and wider communities.
There are a great many ways to address the inequality gaps within the LGBTQ community, and this list is just a starting point. While Pride month presents an opportunity to give the LGBTQ community the attention it deserves, we must continue to channel our energies into creating a more inclusive society all the year round.
From all of us at the Maya Centre, we wish you a very happy Pride!