On 2nd July 2018 at Central Park near to the Civic Centre a ceremony was held to celebrate pride month and show North Lincolnshire’s support for the LGBT and the diverse community.
I must add that I only knew of it as I follow NL council on Facebook and they only announced it a week in advance. It was held at 11am on a weekday, which meant at short notice not that many of the LGBT community knew about it or could make it.
In many places around the UK this would probably have been something to be happy about as a way of showing some sort of acceptance and support to the community here. There are quite a few of us for a small town, alot of us don’t push the fact we might be part of the LGBT community and we don’t tend to promote that we are in our daily lives with our jobs and families.
Personally, I don’t ask people for acceptance and I don’t expect everyone to give me it either. Of course it would be nice for it to be normality and over the years I had started to think it was getting more socially acceptable and not such a big deal.
How wrong was I? This low key flag event caused such distress to some people it would seem.
I have grown up in Scunthorpe, there were a couple of LGBT friendly nights where everyone was included and people from all different backgrounds and sexualities came together to enjoy a night out, where it was safe and free from discrimination obviously the odd “LESBIANS” comment in the street from time to time but nothing physical so it was just funny really and i’d even a little reply sometimes like “Omg, where?”.
Pride isn’t about fear of hand holding in public, nor is it about shouting about how gay you are. It’s not about being better than anyone else. I see people say, “Why keep going on about Pride, if you want to be equal stop banging on about it and wanting special treatment.” To an extent I can agree, I don’t want to go on about being gay but I also don’t want to be ashamed of it. Perhaps if it was acceptable and equal then you would hear less about it but why should people not be proud of who they are, what they are, how far they’ve come?
Pride is something different to everyone and to me it is about celebrating how far acceptance and laws have come over the years and celebrating the diversity of our country today. Which is why the comments raised online yesterday were very disheartening.
The other day in the supermarket I looked around, it wasn’t too busy and I went to hold my partners hand. I’m quite an anxious person anyway so over thinking it is very easy to do, anyway as I reached for my partners hand down the aisle a lady shopping with her husband looked at me and gave me a really endearing smile. So to me, this was lovely and even that little smile made me feel better as I do worry about offending people now I’m older, just not the extent I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night over it.
I can only speak for myself when I say I am rather lucky to have not faced much abuse for being who I am and no friends or family have ever turned against me for it. But I’m not sure that should be a thing, why should someone be lucky for not being abused for their sexuality. They shouldn’t be abused for any reason regarding race, gender, sexuality or ethnicity but it still happens.
Until yesterday I suppose I had started to live a bit of a sheltered life from what was going on in the LGBT community and the underlying aggression and disapproval that still seems very prominent in this area, as I say I don’t live my life defined as a lesbian, I’m just a female human and I don’t expect any special treatment or acknowledgement. Which is part of the argument caused by yesterday’s Rainbow flag raising.
“Why do you get a flag?”, “What are you proud of? because it makes us seem arrogant and egocentric (apparently). I don’t think it’s arrogant to want acceptance and celebrate who you are, if you want to celebrate your freedom and life you can.
The main question is “Why isn’t there straight pride?” and the most popular answer to this is, everyday is straight pride. People who are straight don’t really have to think about being straight because they aren’t going to offend anyone unless they are physically humping on the park bench, then perhaps they might get some funny looks. Marriage between a man and a woman has always been legal, no one had to fight for that. Yes, there are a lot of issues in the world but the fact of the matter is, this shouldn’t still be one of them and it quite clearly is.
There are so many reasons pride is celebrated and there are still people fighting for rights all over the world. In some countries being gay is still punishable by imprisonment or death. We don’t parade around with rainbow flags for ourselves, we show support to those still struggling and those who have struggled.
The fact this small low key flag raising has caused so much backlash for us is actually disgusting and most of us weren’t even involved in it or present, we didn’t ask for it, nor did we ask for you to use it as an opportunity to frame your homophobic thoughts or use it as an opportunity to argue and single out members of the LGBT community in rants.
I tend to go to Hull quite a lot, which isn’t far away and I look at their events and articles and I see positivity not bullying or bigotry. I see families at pride, children on their shoulders, smiles on their faces. Everyone having fun as a community not pushing each other apart. I urge you to visit a pride if you don’t understand it rather than judge it via a flag or a name, it’s for everyone.
It’s very sad, it’s not even about the flag. We don’t need a flag to know who we are no one does. But it seems to have upset a hell of a lot of people. I can’t forget that a small few have commented supportively but it was massively outweighed by awful comments and inappropriate emoji’s. I really can’t imagine what a public pride event in Scunthorpe would be like but in my head I can’t imagine it would be well received if they can’t even handle a flag.
I hope that some of the people that commented can think about how much this affects them? If the answer is, not at all. Then perhaps don’t involve yourself. Bullying or smart arse comments isn’t the way forward. I accept everyone has a right to an opinion but if it’s not directly causing you any problems, why find it so hard to scroll past it and comment on something worthwhile to you.
I don’t need the support but if you think, what if you knew someone, anyone, gay or straight facing troubles in life, is questioning something that makes them happy or feel supported a bad thing? I can only be thankful that I don’t need help or support or that I’m not a young person sitting at home alone reading some of the disrespectful and discouraging comments.
Apparently there is more coming up for the LGBT community, which is a scary thought now. And I really hope that North Lincolnshire council reach out to some of the wider LGBT community although I understand reaching this demographic isn’t an easy thing to do. I did used to run a support group when I was younger and also club nights but the demand did seem to dwindle over the years as I figured we had been able to just integrate more easily into society rather than be targeted. But possibly I was wrong?
I’m unsure what the local LGBT community want, mostly I think we just want to live our lives and go about day to day as anyone else would. A lot of us accepted that Scunthorpe is never going to have a “Gay Scene” but I do feel sorry for the younger generation who don’t have safe places to meet other LGBT or even find other LGBT. Sure these days there’s those handy phone apps, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about a social support network, finding and making friends. I’ve experienced helping some very troubled people who have faced some very hard times, whether it be facing who they are and not liking it or a lot deeper, darker and physical.
I ask that rather than judge anyone or tarnish a certain community with the same brush, you try to think of the people reading your words and what message you are sending to them. You don’t know what troubles people face whether they are LGBT or not, it’s never OK.
Update: If you were wondering where the flag’s gone….
The flag has now been removed for the day (3rd July), the day after it was raised and it has been replaced with the St George’s flag to support the England game tonight. I don’t think the council quite expected the backlash the Rainbow flag would cause and have instead decided to calm the storm with football support. I can’t help but question. If you wanted to raise the England flag for the world cup, is there not more than one flag pole? Or perhaps maybe even just hold off on raising and celebrating the rainbow flag until after the world cup so it doesn’t get changed the next day. It sort of makes the whole thing a little silly and meaningless, but that’s my opinion. But Hey, now everyone can be happy right?….
I am not easily offended so if you have any questions regarding this article then feel free to comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org