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Pride - why we still need it and those who disagree.

Having helped to set up, attended and played music at the marvellously organised Exmouth Pride day last month, I was, as I am every year, asked why we even need it anymore. Lgbtq+ people can get married now. Surely that’s enough? While important, that alone does not signify a panacea where we can all live happily ever after in our fluffy little rainbow world.

Aside from highlighting the fact that around the world, people still die because of who they are, are beaten and ridiculed, lose their jobs and family, there are still some pernicious elements in UK society which need addressing. The application to hold Pride was, surprisingly, not as easy as you might think. Duly sorted though, all went swimmingly.

Since that event, however, I have become increasingly frustrated by the actions of one East Devon Conservative councillor who has been posting a stream of links to articles on the internet from what I now understand to be fairly fundamentalist Christian groups questioning LGBTQ rights. Posted to address the ‘unbalanced indoctrination’ the world is supposedly being subjected to.

Now, I must at this stage say, I’m not religious - I have no problem with anyone who is, I used to work for Exeter Cathedral School, and both my understanding and experience of Christianity is one of acceptance, welcome and love. That’s what I thought, and still think, all faiths should represent. And I completely uphold this particular member’s right to free speech. He can, to a large degree, say what he likes. And boy, does he let you know when he feels he’s being prevented from exercising that right.

But this week, I lost patience with it - a line was crossed, whether deliberately or not, that has irked me to the point of writing this, and publicising his intolerance further.

A link to an article, here, suggests in point 3, by using a completely unrelated piece of scripture I might add, that LGBTQ+ people would be better off dead at the bottom of an ocean with a millstone around their neck.

Yeah…I know, right….

This councillor is deeply religious, and as I say I completely respect that. And I know that I’ll never change his views on homosexuality. But if he continues to post this hate speech on his Twitter account, making reference in his Bio to his status as a district councillor, I will call him out each and every time. You cannot use your faith to justify your hate, threats and wish that LGBTQ people didn’t exist.

I have reached out to this councillor on several occasions to try and engage in some kind of dialogue. I am met with silence or worse still, denials of hate and the old, trite response of ‘I work with many LGBTQ people and have no problem with them.’ Oh, how marvellous of you! I can only therefore presume that I am being pitied, tolerated and (worst of all) prayed for. No thanks - I don’t want anything of the sort. He also justified this link on the grounds of protecting the children - ‘What do we do with the paedophiles?’, he asks in one reply to me. Pride has nothing, diddly squat, nada, not a sausage to do with paedophilia. Neither does the article he has tweeted. I’m utterly sick of the continued assumption among the usually older, very conservative population that gay equals paedophile. It’s incredibly damaging and hurtful.

I’ve invited him to meet some of the LGBTQ+ youngsters I work with, but I suspect he’s worried they’ll tie his arguments in knots and throw him out of the door screaming at him. They’re better than that though - they’d more than likely sit, listen, offer him a biscuit and then tear him to shreds with argument and reason, not hate or worse still, pity.

So in short, if you’re representing a council, or any other organisation, and you distribute any kind of text that wishes people were dead or didn’t exist or should be locked up then have the temerity to justify this using your apparently loving and caring faith, you will be called out on it. You have free speech, but so do I. I’ll use it responsibly and inclusively. Will you?

And this isn’t ‘woke’ or ‘snowflake’ behaviour - it’s standing up for everyone. That’s why Pride still exists.


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