EPIC’s celebrating Pride 2023

Friday, 23 June 2023

Marking the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Pride is both protest and celebration. It’s an opportunity for advocacy, and to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in all its diversity: to come together in solidarity, defiance, and shared joy.

This year, Pride takes place in a context of escalating anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. With anti-transgender backlash accelerating around the world, London Pride 2023 selected the theme “Never March Alone” in solidarity with the transgender and non-binary community. Pride in London’s CEO Christopher Joell-Deshields explained:

“Pride in London is much more than a celebration of our vibrant community; it is a powerful gathering that fosters unity and support. Amidst the ongoing adversity faced by the LGBT+ community worldwide, we want every trans and non-binary person to feel the unwavering solidarity we offer.”

Progress for LGBTQ+ rights is stalling in 2023. Up until 2015, the UK consistently topped the rankings of LGBTQ+ friendly countries in Europe. By 2022, the UK had fallen to 14th place. This year, the UK has dropped again to 17th place. ILGA-Europe explains this as the cumulative impact of numerous factors – from rising anti-trans rhetoric in the mainstream media, to politicians perpetuating a crackdown on transgender rights, to the delay and exclusion of transgender identity from a proposed ban on conversion therapy.

Anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime is drastically on the increase. The government’s most recent hate crime statistics show homophobic hate crimes increased by 41% and transphobic hate crimes by 56% in England and Wales in just one year. In Scotland, the number of transphobic hate crimes increased by 87%. 57% of trans students, 58% of bisexual students, and 70% of lesbian and gay students report experiencing bullying in Scottish schools, while the number of LGBTQ+ young people who agree Scotland is ‘a good place for LGBTI young people to live’ dropped from 81% to 65% over a five year period.

Societal hostility contributes to worsen rates of mental ill health amongst LGBTQ+ people, who are consistently found to experience higher rates than the general population. This disparity is even more pronounced amongst LGBTQ+ people of colour, disabled LGBTQ+ people, and LGBTQ+ people who have experienced a hate crime. Stonewall’s 2018 LGBT In Britain – Health Report found 52% of LGBTQ+ respondents had experienced depression in the last year. This rate rose to 67% for transgender respondents – 12% of whom reported attempting to take their lives over the same time period, compared to 2% of cis LGB people, and 13% of LGBTQ+ people aged 18-24 (one in eight).

These statistics underline that Pride in 2023 is as crucial as ever. In the midst of a spiralling moral panic, LGBTQ+ people need support, understanding, and solidarity from allies, and to know the strength of our community. LGBT Foundation write,

“Building strong, supportive communities is essential to creating a world where LGBTQ+ people can thrive. We know that it’s not enough to simply fight against the forces of oppression; we must also actively cultivate joy, hope, and love in our lives.”

This June, EPIC wants to showcase the resiliency of the LGBTQ+ community. As Stonewall asserts,

“Despite oppressive laws and societal discrimination, LGBTQ+ people have persisted, and we’ve resisted. We’ve always found one another, inspired one another, and broken barriers to provide visibility for others. And it’s partly this visibility that has allowed more LGBTQ+ people to be openly themselves in the UK in the last two decades.”

Our next post will explore instances of queer joy, love, hope, humour, and resistance in fiction and in history.

In addition, EPIC are excited to share that inside the International Youth Project, there is a workshop that aims to break down gender stereotypes and celebrate the diverse identities within the LGBTQI+ community.

Lastly, mark your calendars for the 29th of June as well! On this day, at 6:30 PM there will be the Traveller Pride Mental Health Awareness Workshop on Zoom, held in partnership with Traveller LGBT Pride. This workshop will cover the following topics:

  • Identity and not enough-ness
  • Isolation and not belonging
  • Neurodivergence

Email us at [email protected] or send us a direct message on our social media to get the link.

Author: Dorian Rose