Pride Guest Blogger: Beth Ashley

Pride Guest Blogger: Beth Ashley
Celebrating Pride at Home with Beth Ashley

As a queer person, Pride is very close to my heart. It’s difficult to fully explain what Pride provides to a person in the LGBTQ+ community, and what it means to me while doing it justice. Pride, ultimately, provides a sense of belonging that queer people don’t always experience in our day to day lives. For many queer people (and it’s something I’m unfortunately no stranger to), being presentably “different” invites experiences of oppression, isolation, shame, and even hiding. For people who’ve been confronted with this feeling, Pride offers a space where the community can be united, and every one of us can feel recognised, empowered and celebrated. Even queer people who spend all too often feeling like they’re on the outskirts of society can come forward and celebrate themselves proudly.

This year, Pride is obviously very different. With Pride events across the world being cancelled one by one, it’s easy to feel gloomy, like something’s been taken from us. Not having in-person events where we can physically come together is, of course, a disappointment. But over the last few months, I’ve watched the queer community get organised and creative, finding innovative, interesting ways to celebrate Pride and engage in queer-related protests within the confines of quarantining and social distancing. The vast amount of online Pride panels, parties, fashion videos, protests and even raves shows how much love the community has for one another, and how much we care for ourselves. Knowing that there are still opportunities for queer people of all ages, races, abilities and genders to explore, celebrate and empower themselves warms my heart.

There are myriad ways for us, as queers missing our festivals, parades and protests, to celebrate our identities from home. For me, fashion and makeup have served as a wonderful outlet for me to celebrate my identity and explore my queerness. Personal style has always been an important part of queer history, with many LGBT+ people seeing their style as not only important but a personal manifesto. Right now, all I want to dress in is rainbow prints, boxy silhouettes and red lipsticks!

Another option for bringing Pride to your home is through the magic of queer cinema. Crack out your favourite DVDs and search Netflix for the best films featuring queer romance and excellent musical numbers. I’m personally a fan of constantly watching Blue is the Warmest Colour, Rocky Horror, and Call Me By Your Name on a continuous loop!

Last but not least, get organised at home. Pride isn’t just a celebration. It’s also a protest! Now more than ever, in a health pandemic that presents unique ramifications for queer people and a racial pandemic that leaves our black, queer sisters feeling vulnerable, it’s time to take care of our own and focus on those in our community who need our help most. Pay attention to the black lives matter movement, and what trans activists are sharing at the moment. Listen to them, learn from them, and most importantly: believe them. Sign petitions, donate where you can, and offer your unique skills and creativity to support the causes that help them. For more info, check out Mermaid’s Gender and this Black Lives Matter card.

One organisation I’d really like to raise awareness of, for all LGBT+ people, is Far and Pride. The wonderful queer artists and activists behind Far and Pride are a wonderful example of queer people coming together creatively to offer digital alternatives for Pride. What’s more, they’re even finding that these digital methods are more accessible and have the potential to include more people.

Far and Pride acts as a virtual Pride (mainly operating on Instagram). The team, which is made up of well-known queer artists Hannah Daisy, Wednesday Holmes and writer Prishita Maheshwari-Aplin use illustration, moving image and creative writing to focus on LGBTQ+ issues and assist people (queer and otherwise) through the impacts of lockdown, whether that’s by pointing their audience to important resources, or providing a fun, affordable recipe. Their content ranges from virtual panels (not unlike those we would see at an outdoor Pride event!), general guidance for queer people, intersectional queer support resources, and artistic activities with an LGBTQ+, organizing twist, such as their workshop on creating gifs to be used social media activism posts. Definitely check them out if you’re stuck for ideas on how to be involved in Pride!

Thank you SO much Beth for such an informative blog, you can keep up with Beth on her instagram.

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