From coping with coronavirus, to the cancelling of Pride events, to the continuing anti-trans hatred that circles around social media and has lethal, real-life consequences: this year our community needs our rainbow flag more than ever to celebrate #Pride.
During the coronavirus pandemic, rainbow paintings, signs and flags have adorned many of the road-facing windows of UK homes to signify support for our amazing key workers. This display of solidarity is a beautiful thing, however some have questioned whether it has disassociated the rainbow away from the LGBT+ community, noting the negative impact this can have.
Highlighting the problems caused by this disassociation, Manchester resident Alex spoke out about his experience of homophobic abuse after hanging a rainbow flag in his window. 10 months following the incident, his street was engulfed by an array of rainbow signs to represent support for the NHS. This contrast in support for rainbow symbols is frustrating for LGBT+ people like Alex, and understandably so.
The disappointing cancellation of Pride events around the country has left members of the LGBT+ community feeling more isolated than ever. LGBT+ youth are especially affected; in our recent LGBT<25 Survey we found that 68.5% of young people are afraid to come out to immediate family. This means that these same young people will have felt more pressure than ever to hide their LGBT+ identity during the past few months.
The rainbow flag, when used to celebrate Pride or the LGBT+ community, is not just a celebration of identity, it is also an indication of allyship, of safe spaces, community and togetherness. Just think of the impact that seeing a Pride flag in a neighbour’s window can have on a young LGBT+ or questioning person who is grappling with their identity. In the absence of the multitude of rainbow paraphernalia flaunted to celebrate Pride at parades this year, we need to fly the flags from our windows, fences and social media feeds to reach community members who are experiencing isolation.
Stephen Fry puts it best in his speech at the 2019 British LGBT Awards:
“If you think about the Wizard of Oz… it starts off in black and white, and Dorothy lives in a black and white world. She has an opening song, she thinks about a world that is over the rainbow where she can fly and be free. And that’s why gay people love that song: because gay people everywhere dreamt of being over the rainbow. If every little blue bird can fly over the rainbow why, oh why, can’t I?”