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Celebrating Pride beyond June: an interview with King's LGBTQ+ society

Three students celebrating

As Pride Month draws to a close, we wanted to reflect on how we can continue celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. We spoke to King’s LGBTQ+ Society’s committee members J (she/her), who has decided to remain anonymous, and Ali (any/all), about their experiences and recommendations.

What does pride mean to you?

J: I think pride means what it says on the tin, being proud of who you are.
Not only as an individual but as a community and how far we’ve come in the past hundred years or so.

Ali: Pride means being happy with the person that I am. It means sharing space with other beautiful queer people and supporting one another. It means wearing as many bright colours as possible and reminding the world that whatever you have pride in is amazing.

What has your journey with pride been?

J: I've been part of the LGBTQ+ community for nearly a decade and I have overcome a lot of obstacles. As a collective, we have also gone through a lot of awful stuff and always pulled through.

The reverse of the conversion therapy ban was a big kick in the guts especially as I was on the committee that recommended the bill. Having our rights taken away little by little reminds me more and more of how important it is that we stick together.

Ali: My journey with pride hasn’t been straightforward (no pun intended). I’m asexual, and I often don’t feel like there is space made for asexual people during Pride Month.

That being said, pride for me grows with every day. It's an act of self-compassion, as well as a statement. It’s been a working journey that I’m not at the end of, but I’m at a point where there is more than enough to be proud of.

Why is celebrating Pride beyond June important?

J: Queer people don't just exist in June. That’s it.

Ali: LGBTQ+ people, cultures, and communities always have been there and will always be there, 365 days of the year. So, pride will exist year-round as well.

Why do you think allies are important to the LGBTQ+ community?

J: 10% of the UK’s population is queer, give or take, and the other 90% dictates what happens to us. As vocal as we are, we don't have the numbers, so allies who stand up for us are essential.

Ali: Homophobia and transphobia happen every day through big actions and little comments that build up. We need support and respect, just like anybody who's not part of the LGBTQ+ community would expect.

Can you share a positive experience with allyship?

J: There are celebrities like Pedro Pascal who has a trans sister and is a huge trans ally. He's very vocal about it. Having people like him as role models in popular culture normalises not only queerness but allyship, which is just as important.

Ali: As a medical student I’ve done lots of exam practice questions written by other King’s students. I came across one that made a connection between being asexual and being diagnosed with a personality disorder. This was acephobic because it encourages medical students to make assumptions about somebody's health and prescribe a course of treatment based on their sexuality. I raised it with my teacher and suggested to him this needs to be rewritten. We worked to reframe the question together. He made time for me and was very open to resolving the issue, which I appreciated.

How do you celebrate Pride throughout the year?

J: I spend time with the people I love. Just existing together is monumental because of how oppressed we are.

Protecting people is also important. Whether it’s something small like talking to a friend when they're feeling down or standing up for someone when they're being discriminated against. Personally, I volunteer at Gendered Intelligence. We provide a safe space for trans youth who have been stigmatised their whole lives.

Ali: I respect my own identity. I came out as non-binary three years ago. It marked a moment where I started to make active decisions about the way I see myself. That built pride for me because I wasn't restricting myself anymore. I was doing what my heart had always wanted, but I just didn't realise it until I knew the word 'non-binary'.

I also celebrate by standing up for my community. This year, I made a banner advocating for better trans healthcare that was exhibited in a gallery. That was a wonderful moment of showing pride.

What LGBTQ+ spaces and events in London do you enjoy visiting?

J: Gendered Intelligence is probably the main one, for me. It's such a vital space for transgender people. I also like the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre in Blackfriars.

Ali: Well, I have to say I have really enjoyed being a member of King’s LGBTQ+ Society this year. The Common Press bookshop is a wonderful place. If you’re asexual, then check out Ace Space London on social media. And I’ve been meaning to go to La Camionera, a new lesbian café because it’s a small, queer-owned business with a cat.