The start of June marked the beginning of Pride month the world over, an important time of year for representation in the LGBTQ+ community.
Like all months celebrating a marginalised group in society, it has devolved into a chance for corporations to create rainbow logos, or for confectionery companies to stop selling colourful sweets “because during Pride, only one rainbow matters”, before moving on once July comes around.
But Pride is far more than corporate slogans and empty gestures.
Ben Wills, 24, President-Elect of the Nottingham Trent Student Union (NTSU) commented on the importance of marching, a mainstay event in major metropolitan cities around the globe, including right here in Nottingham.
He says: “After years of discrimination and years of hatred for the LGBTQ+ community, it’s great to see people march in their thousands.”
While to the masses Pride may have morphed into something sterilised, it remains a significant time for those who use it as a platform to express their truest identity.
Speaking before the crowd at Nottingham’s eventual Pride march in September 2021, Leigh Ellis, chairperson of Nottinghamshire Pride stated: “If you feel able to join the march, turn up as your proudest self – unfiltered and fabulous, whatever that means for you.”
That’s really the crux at the heart of Pride month. Pride celebrations and the act of marching – being able to be your truest self.
For Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse, 22, Editor of CBJ Magazine for the day and who identifies as queer, Pride is about celebrating those who need to feel safe.
She says: “I have marched in the past, but as someone who is straight-passing, it isn’t necessarily about me at those events.
“But for people who aren’t passing, and who do get abuse daily, being able to march as part of a community that makes you feel safe is amazing.”
Nottingham in particular has a proud relationship with the LGBTQ+ community.
The executive officers of the NTSU, regardless of their orientation, will be attending the Pride march this coming July.
President-Elect Wills says: “Every single person I know has somebody in their life who is involved in the LGBTQ+ movement. So, it’s vital that we get involved, that we learn about the culture, learn about the kind of struggles that they go through every single day and try and help to actively improve them.”
It isn’t just the university that maintains strong ties with the local LGBTQ+ community.
Nottingham is home to a variety of businesses which are LGBTQ+ friendly, from Broadway Cinema which regularly screens LGBTQ+ films, to Five Leaves Bookshop which has a vast collection of queer literature for sale.
Ross Bradshaw, owner of Five Leaves, says the bookshop has always had an LGBTQ+ section of literature, and it always will have, adding that even if none of the staff were members of the LGBTQ+ community, it is important for that section to remain regardless.
Bradshaw adds: “As well as the stock, we’ve often hosted or organised LGBT events, ranging from poetry readings, a talk on LGBTQ+ workers and trade unions, an afternoon of tea and scones for local LGBTQ+ readers.”
There is little joy to take from current affairs right now – a quick sojourn through any newsfeed will tell you that.
A cost of living crisis on home soil and countless tragedies on foreign soil, all the while a pandemic continues to cover the world.
While the Pride celebrations don’t diminish or alleviate the plight of everyone right now, they do offer some respite; a chance for people, within the LGBTQ+ community and out, to find that little bit of joy.