Pride: No Prejudice
It is a truth universally acknowledged that belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community means you will have experienced one, or perhaps both, of these concepts.
Today, I’m reflecting on the fact that it is, once again, LGBT History Month. For those of us who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s an odd moment – a time to think about how far our community has come in terms of finding acceptance and inclusion and a sense of pride, but also, sadly, a time to think about how far there still is for us to go – here in the UK, and, often in much worse ways, in many other places around the world.
The history of LGBTQIA+ identities appears, on the surface, to be one of fear, shame and prejudice. You may be reading this as someone who was exploring their queer identity when homosexuality and “cross-dressing” (yes, really!) was still criminalised in this country, or as someone who vividly remembers the judgement and horror induced by the ‘Don’t die of ignorance’ slogan, or as someone who was educated under the long shadow of Section 28.
Last LGBT History Month, we were all watching It’s A Sin on Channel 4. It’s A Sin mattered because the stories it told were moving, and real, and relatable. It started conversations. It exposed and challenged prejudice. It cast homosexual actors to play homosexual characters. It took years for Russell T. Davies to get approval to make It’s A Sin because many people still aren’t ready to confront the reality of LGBTQIA+ history. It’s a history that hurts. A history that shames. Not a history that shames our community, but one that shames heteronormativity and cisnormativity.
But. LGBTQIA+ history is other things too. Strength. Beauty. Love. Friendship. Acceptance. Community. Family. Hope. Belonging. Positivity.
The concept of pride for our community is an incredible feat. The first Pride event in New York was a commemoration of the Stonewall Riots – themselves a demonstration of pride through defiance and alliance. Stormé DeLarverie famously preferred the terms “uprising” or “rebellion” to describe the events which followed the police harassment and brutality which took place at the Stonewall Inn – an early demonstration of her own pride in the actions of those gay, lesbian and transgender patrons who took a stand against prejudice.
Pride – by which I mean both organised events and the feeling within you – is powerful. It lets you walk tall, expressing your gender, expressing your sexuality, expressing your love, expressing yourself. Authentically, and without apology. For me, the process of finding pride in my identity was incredibly empowering. I no longer felt a sense of wrongness or awkwardness about myself. I stopped feeling like I was broken, or that I needed to hide away things that were shameful. Instead, being visible, owning my identity and living as my authentic self was like coming home. Belonging.
Maybe you don’t feel pride in your identity yet. Maybe you’re reading this thinking: I don’t understand how you feel like that. Maybe you think: I’ll never feel like that. Maybe you look at Pride events and think: I wish… Maybe you listen to someone else come out and think: One day… Maybe you think you’re too old to be grappling with your identity, too settled, too professional, too established.
Maybe it’s just that you need some support to feel able to be the best version of yourself. And the thing is…you’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll start to feel better, about yourself and within yourself, when you are living fully and unapologetically as yourself.
There is a certain perception that when a queer person “comes out”, everything resolves. The truth is, coming out isn’t a one-off. The first coming out is to yourself. And then to the people around you – over, and over, and over again, for the rest of your life. When you change job. With your extended family. With friends of friends. Socially. Sometimes, no matter how good they are at being allies, straight, cis people simply don’t get it. We still live in a society where people are straight-and-cis until proven otherwise. Having to make a statement about how you identify – or choosing not to make that statement – isn’t always easy. Feeling a deep, genuine sense of self-acceptance can make that easier, and hypnotherapy can help you find that self-acceptance.
Historically, it has certainly been the case that it has been enormously challenging – and often impossible – for those of us in the LGBTQIA+ community to seek mental health support. From the horrors of conversion therapy to exhausting daily microaggressions – I know you think you’re gay, but is it maybe just that you haven’t met the right man/woman yet? – it can be incredibly hard to reach out for support and trust that someone will show you genuine compassion and treat you with complete acceptance.
I am passionate about facilitating that support for members of the community that I am a part of. Hypnotherapy can resolve trauma, open the door to self-acceptance, be a safe place to question and explore, allow you to experience pride. Hypnotherapy with me is effective, inclusive, understanding and accepting.
Prejudice means, literally, to make a judgement in advance. Often, there is still an expectation that members of the LGBTQIA+ community will be stereotypically visible – Roscoe’s style in It’s A Sin is a perfect example. But we all know that these oversimplifications are frustrating at best, and damaging at worst. Author, feminist and illustrator Florence Given puts it best when she says that “There is no one way to look, present, or act queer.” I believe this to be true. I believe that however you present, whatever label you use, however you have moved through the world until now, your LGBTQIA+ identity is valid. I can promise to make no judgements about you – not before I meet you, and not at any other time, either.
I want you to know that I accept you, even if I don’t know you yet. I accept your pronouns (mine are she/her, by the way). I accept your sexuality. I accept your gender identity. I accept you as you transition. I accept your experiences. I accept your trauma. I accept the prejudice you have faced.
Whether you are queer, questioning, an ally (or all three!), I hear you, and I’m here for you, to help you be the best version of yourself.
This LGBT History Month, forget about prejudice – instead, let me help your pride shine through.