After a 20 year absence, Pride returned to Southampton last weekend. Chris Hammond, Councillor for Woolston, gives his own personal perspective:
A lot’s changed since 1996, including our phenomenal progress towards equality. LGBT people can marry, adopt and have protections against various forms of discrimination - all of these changes have occurred since the last parade went through the city’s streets. An LGBT child born today will grow up in a more tolerant and accepting society than at any time before. This is something we should all be proud of.
Southampton Pride was a fun event for all the family: it had great music, people and acts to enjoy over the Bank Holiday weekend.
We had much to celebrate, but we mustn’t forget that we still don’t have full equality. Gay men cannot donate blood unless they practice 'abstinence' for a year – I doubt anyone is that altruistic. Some children face homophobic abuse (whether they are gay or not), reinforcing a perception that being LGBT is wrong. The Daily Echo recently reported how hate crime has risen by 50% in Hampshire since June. This is even before you factor in such tragedies as the Orlando shooting in June.
No one in Southampton should have to feel afraid, ashamed or hate who they are: we’re all part of the beautiful diversity in this city. If Pride helped one person feel more at ease with their place in this city, it’ll all be worth it. Long may it continue.