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Pride, LGBT, Being brave – my story.

When I first moved to Glasgow in 2012 my mind was set in certain ways. I never saw a use for Pride then as I felt it was dated (past tense, note.) I saw the LGBT community reach historic milestones and achieve equality through politics, debates, changing the minds and opening the eyes of others. I always felt Pride didn’t do that for me. I come from a small town, one that is was, and I guess still is, fairly rife with homophobia. This played a pivotal part in shaping my view back then.

All I had growing up was the stereotypes you see perpetuated at Pride thrown in my face. People assumed because I was gay guy that I wanted to be like that, dress like that. So the bullying I was subjected too caused me to have a warped perception of Pride and what it did for the LGBT community. All I got from it was harassment from my peers, rude comments, locked out the changing rooms at gym. I didn’t have an army of people marching beside me, I had to fight my own battles. There wasn’t any other gays in the area at the time, or out ones anyway, and my family didn’t know, they didn’t want to know. So I was literally on my own and this made me bitter. Later on, not long before I moved, I got black eyes, bloody noses, death threats, verbal abuse…and a vicious rumour that destroyed my life.

Prior to moving to Glasgow I had only attended Pride once before, when I was 17, and it wasn’t a good exigence for me. I feel that left a lingering sourness. I remember going and just feeling so out of place. I wasn’t the best looking, I’m still not, and I felt the glare of judgement cast upon me by these slightly older and confident guys that marched past. I kept with it and eventually a couple of older men started talking to me. Naïve as I was at the time I felt they were just being friendly, but soon realised that it wasn’t friendship the were after. So couple that with the bullying, rumours, having my life literally turned upside down (the reason I had to move to Glasgow in the first place stemmed from a bull-shit homophobic rumour) and I wound up hating something that I perhaps all along needed to embrace, but because of the past I felt nothing but shame.

After Sunday’s events I’ve once again felt the sting of persecution; that horrible feeling of being hated simply for being you. The feeling I carried around with me ever since I came out when I was 13. But only this time it’s not made me hate Pride, it’s made me want to embrace it. So for the first time since I was 17 I am going to attend Pride because all the Orlando massacre has proven is that we as a community are not safe and not equals.

The act itself was horrific, but the aftermath was just as bad. The hateful tweets, the demeaning comments Owen Jones was subjected too; the remarks on social media praising the attack or, and this for me is the worst, the silence from a lot of straight people in my life. Say what you want, claim not to be homophobic, but at the end of the day a lot of people will just think “some gays were gunned down.” Not people, but ‘gays.’

I’ve had likes and comments and shares from yesterday’s post, pictures, and interviews I’ve shared from (some) friends and family members; but as you scroll through Facebook ask yourself this: how many friends have said nothing? They might argue that it’s not just about sexuality, but you know what? It is. We are taking it personally because it IS personal. That club was targeted because it was frequented by members of the LGBT community – it was a gay bar. The one place where we are meant to feel safe, to feel welcome. I’ve harped on in the past about how bitchy those clubs can be, and they are, but at the end of the day those remarks made stem from someone’s personality, not out of homophobia. It’s 2016 in Glasgow and I still don’t think I’d be comfortable walking down the street holding another guys hand; nor would I feel safe kissing one somewhere that wasn’t a gay bar.

Too many people stay silent. They think because we have achieved the right to get married, to adopt children (in some places) that it’s all dandy; that there aren’t any issues. Well, there fucking is.  There’s loads. Homophobia is still rearing its ugly, outdated head all the time but it’s all under rug swept.

Sure people have banded together now, and will do so for a few weeks, but will it last? It needs to last, otherwise this will keep happening. You need to speak up, I need to speak up. Even small remarks like ‘fag’ used as a derogatory term in passing conversation, something I’ve done myself, needs to stop.  I’m not going to tolerate it anymore, because after Sunday I am no longer ashamed of my sexuality. It’s not just a word, or a sentence, or a couple ignorant guys beating a gay guy up. Nor is it simply being disowned by your family, being made to feel totally alone: It was a guy who was part of a cult (ISIS) gunning down with pure hatred our fellow members of the LGBT community. And none of that is OK!

How many people still think that most gay men turn out to be paedophiles? That a girl can be too butch or a guy too feminine? That we are dirty? That we all have AIDS or are more prone to STDS? That simply because we love a member of the same sex we are sinners? What makes our love any different than yours? To those people I say this: Fuck you and the bigoted horse you rode in on.

I apologise for being so scared of being myself before; for the remarks I’ve made in the past about Pride because I know now that we do need it. I never want to use my sexuality as my identifier, there’s more to me than my sexual preference, but at the same time I need to accept it is a massive part of who I am. I hear my self saying it all the time, small remarks like ‘I can’t wear that because it makes me look too gay.’ So bloody what if it does? I am gay.  Whatever has happened to me in the past needs to be buried and forgotten in order for me to be truly comfortable with myself – glitter ‘n’ all.

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