#ProudToBeMe by Iestyn Wyn, Stonewall Cymru
This weekend people across Wales will come together to celebrate equality and diversity at Pride Cymru.
You may be one of the many people joining in this year’s event or be showing your support in other ways. Perhaps, you are one of the people who think that having won many hard-fought fundamental rights over the past decade there is no need for such a visible celebration or perhaps you are someone who cannot accept our sexuality…
Despite a major societal and cultural shift in accepting and celebrating diversity we still have a long way to go to eradicate prejudice.
Over 54% of LGBT children and young people have experienced bullying because of their sexuality in our schools, over 90% of LGBT people have experienced verbal abuse, 70% of LGBT people feel uncomfortable holding hands in public and two in five trans young people (41 per cent) have at some point attempted to take their own life. These are not figures that portray genuine equality.
The above statistics remind us of the need and relevance of Prides. The LGBT community still face many challenges and barriers, it is vital that we still see Prides in 2018 as a protest for equality, the same as when the citizens of New York marched back in 1970, a year following the Stonewall riots which sparked a movement towards a battle for LGBT rights and equality.
Growing up gay in Wales has been a mixed experience, mainly a positive one, but stating that I haven’t faced barriers based on my identity as a gay individual, would be a lie. I grew up in a rural, Welsh speaking area and I felt isolated and under pressure to “fit in”, not able to share my thoughts and feelings.
There were very few role models within the Welsh language community which reflected my experiences and choices, with the exception of a few storylines, now and again on TV. Visibility of LGBT issues and people are vital to ensure that we are represented. If a person can’t identify with what they see around them, then the narrative of being the ‘other’ will always exist.
It was such a proud and overwhelming moment for me personally recently to work on the Mas ar y Maes campaign at the National Eisteddfod which gave a platform and an opportunity for the Welsh language LGBT community to meet and speak in our mother tongue.
It may sound cliché but I do feel positive about the future. It filled my heart with such joy when Llantwit Major, a small, coastal village announced their own Pride celebrations. Imagine if every village, town and city in Wales had their own Pride celebrations, imagine the positive impact it could have on challenging and eradicating the casual verbal abuse, such as “you’re so gay” to the more serious physical abuse.
A message to our future generations; I am committed to work towards a fairer and a more equal Wales and I’ll be one of those people shouting, singing and dancing while celebrating diversity this weekend, and that with pride.
This weekend I will stand shoulder to shoulder with my LGBT friends and family and I will forever be #ProudToBeMe
Iestyn Wyn |