STUDENT VOICES: National Student Pride

Matthew O’Leary talks about a personal experience at this years National Student Pride that reminded him why these events are so important.

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As a gay man, I attend pride every year, always seeing it as a good way to meet people or to party, more like a kind of ridiculous, “We are queer, we are here” kind of event. Really, all I thought it was worth was a good day out.  It wasn’t until 2 days ago when my thoughts on Pride had changed.

I have never been “obviously gay” as such, and therefore have never encountered any form of homophobia. I have always felt comfortable to be who I am, and to express myself in any way I wanted to. However despite being covert, inside I’ve always known I am a minority, but never thought it would affect me ever. However, for me I encountered my first real form of homophobia on the day of National Student Pride 2013 – held here in Brighton.

Student Pride ever year possesses a great convivial atmosphere, as it is not everyday that students from across the country can come together under one roof to celebrating who they are. It’s events like this that help “normalise” being gay in society. Student Pride this year was filled with engaging debates and discussion between a very diverse panel. An underlying value throughout the debate was that, as human beings, it is inherent we stand up for our own rights as individuals. I don’t just mean the LGBT community, but people from any walk of life. This is something I wish I had remembered later that day.

After the event had finished, I went to meet my partner and his friends at Vodka Revolutions on West Street. I had a sticker on my shirt with a caption saying “Student pride ’13”. The bouncer told me to, “Take that disgusting thing off!” To which I replied, “What thing?” He then (aggressively) said “That sticker”. So, without thinking I did take it off, and then he accused me of being drunk (which I wasn’t).

It completely crushed my day. I had left pride feeling positive about being a part of the LGBT community, only to have this feeling swept from beneath me. I felt the same shame I felt as a teenager realising I was gay. Not the shame of being gay, but the shame of realising other people could have a problem with me and stop me being who I am. This narrow-minded bouncer has highlighted the importance of Pride events to me. So whatever your background, sexuality, ethnicity, whatever, I say to you – Let your voice be heard! Celebrate who you are, and never let your suppressors suppress.

If you ever face any kind of homophobia whilst being a student, or even after you leave University, do not suffer alone. Here are some useful sites to let your voice be heard: 

 

By Matthew O’Leary

The Verse Staff

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