Pride in Humber Week, 2020

Published: 17 August 2020

Every summer, the LGBT+ community celebrates all around the world. Various events are held in cities across the globe, as a way of recognising the importance of LGBT+ awareness and its influence on the world today. As well as a celebration, Pride also provides an opportunity for people to stand up for what is right. It’s a time to peacefully protest against issues the community continue to face, and an opportunity to raise political awareness.

This year, however, things were very different due to the Coronavirus pandemic, which lead to hundreds of events being cancelled worldwide. In these circumstances, we knew it was more important than ever to come together and stand in solidarity with one another. To lift up our LGBT+ communities and support their efforts, despite being unable to meet face to face.

As such, we felt it was important to host an event in any way that we could. Which lead to our virtual Pride in Humber programme.

Our key goal when developing this programme was to bring people together and to spread awareness of local LGBT+ communities and groups in the region. To achieve this, we reached out to Martin Storey, Education Development Co-ordinator at Mesmac, Sophie Bracewell from Leeds Gender Identity Services, Andy Train, Chair, Hull & ER LGBT+ Forum and Kyle McInnes, Trainee Advanced Clinical Practitioner and Rainbow Alliance group Chair.

These three key individuals were kind enough to agree to speak during our virtual events and help us to learn, grow and understand better LGBT+ members and allies.

Andy Train shared his lived experiences as an LGBT+ community member. He outlined his confusion growing up in a world that didn’t define men as anything but straight. With those who acted differently to this norm on television simply being noted as ‘camp’ and to be laughed at.

He also shared with us the feeling of pressure to get married and have a family, and for him it was not until he’d done those things that people began speaking more openly about being gay and bisexual.

This new way of thinking introduced a lot of pain and hurt into Andy’s life, he explained a feeling of loss and that he’d made all the wrong choices. Despite feeling like he had it all – the house, the wife, the job – he still felt extreme feelings of loneliness and despair.

Luckily, Andy’s story does have a happy ending. He eventually got the support him and his wife needed to move on amicably and he gained a new lease of life living his authentic self. However, Andy’s story taught the audience a lot about the struggles with coming to terms with who you really are at all different stages of life. It opened our eyes to the importance of acceptance and positivity, and for that we’re grateful to Andy for sharing such an honest and emotive story with us.

Martin Storey and Sophie Bracewell joined us during Pride in Humber, to speak to us about Transgender awareness. The talk began with Sophie sharing her lived experiences with us. Sophie works in the Leeds Gender Identity Clinic. She outlined how, when she needed support, she was referred to her own services for help, and reminding us the importance of recognising that sometimes the patients can be the experts as well.

Sophie also outlined the hardships that come with coming out as transgender and how best to ask someone what their titles or pronouns are.

“It’s much better to politely ask. Never guess, because although if you get it right it can be a real ego-boost, if you get it wrong, it can really hurt that individual for a long time.”

“Just simply say ‘Hi, I’m Sophie and I identify myself as she/her. What pronouns do you use?”

Following Sophie’s raw and insightful depiction of life as a transgender woman, Martin Storey went on to reaffirm the learnings and tell us about the important work Mesmac are currently doing to support and empower transgender individuals with brave and safe spaces which are an inclusive place for all. To find out more, visit https://www.mesmac.co.uk/.

Finally, we closed the Pride in Humber week with a talk by Kyle McInnes, who leads the Rainbow Alliance LGBT+ community group at Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust.

Our Trust places a huge emphasis on diversity and inclusion, and our Rainbow Alliance LGBT+ community is a central part of our efforts to ensure all our staff and members feel accepted and supported.

Kyle reminded us of the importance of supporting LGBT+ members by simply being an understanding and kind ally. He reaffirmed the notion that you indeed do not need to identify yourself in any particular way to be a part of the Rainbow Alliance.

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