Updated: Jun 25, 2019
I'm a gay lad myself (don't worry, I came out years ago - that wasn't my big reveal!) and as a gay dad, our family celebrate pride at home as an annual holiday with our kids in the Summer holidays. Lyall and Richard are very proud of their LGBTQ+ heritage - they duly wave their little rainbow flags and make lovely rainbow paintings for their doting two dads.
In September our family attends the big pride event in the city to watch the colourful people as they shimmy along the streets in the parade. It's great fun and increasingly family-centred year-on-year.
Back in 1990, as a gay little boy growing up in Devon, the same age as my own kids now - it was a dark time for gay people. You wouldn't know it from that happy picture there, but I was expected to hide in plain sight behind a brave, straight facade while kids, teachers, BBC TV comedies and celebrities openly used phrases like 'pufter', 'queer' and 'fag'. And that's just scratching the surface - ordinary, well respected members of society were openly homophobic and it was widely accepted that homophobic behaviour was correct and homosexuality wasn't.
Fast forward thirty-ish years (almost giving away my age there), standing tall in the Pride parade with my fiancé Tom and our kids among all these colourful people, it feels like we've come a long way. We're part of a brilliant, vibrant community and we feel very proud.
2018 has been a fantastic year for #Pride. Not least because some of the UK's favourite household brands came out in support of the country's LGBTQ+ community. Notably Barclay Card UK, Sony PlayStation, Levi's, Urban Outfitters and Skittles appeared on my Facebook and Instagram feed daily with lovely bright rainbow-filled messages and pictures.
#Marmite had a go too, but slightly bodged up their supportive campaign by censoring the word gay from their personalised pride jars and capping their donation to LGBTQ+ causes to £5000. Honestly we couldn't believe it either! Don't worry, I reported the issue and received a timely apology - it's all sorted now... Bravo, Marmite. We still love you (well, Daddy does, Tom and the boys not so much, unrelated to this).
LGBTQ+ support is not limited to enormous conglomerates like those, either. Hundreds of businesses proudly featured rainbows within their logos, A boards and adverts and some innovated with interactive features or personalised rainbow pride themed products. We've seen rainbow billboards, adverts on television and sponsorship of pride events across the country. It's incredibly touching.
Corporate support for Pride, particularly on brands' social media accounts shows solidarity, inclusivity and bravery. But it also has one extremely valuable side-effect that further strengthens support for the LGBTQ+ community. It exposes homophobia and allows the general public - LGBTQ+ allies to respond to homophobic trolls with supportive words.
Homophobic trolls still exist? Yes they do - in their droves and they love to publically stop by for their hateful tuppenceworth whenever a rainbow appears. Take a look at the screenshots I took from comments beneath a PlayStation rainbow profile picture. Thankfully PlayStation's followers were quick to respond with lovely messages of love and support. It actually feels quite helpful that these bullies still exist and pop up in situations like this, it only highlights how extreme, alone and ridiculous they are.
The big difference between homophobia back in 1990 and the homophobia now is society's perspective has flipped completely; with homophobia completely unacceptable but homosexuality perfectly acceptable, just as it should be.
I applaud the brands and their followers for supporting their LGBTQ+ friends rather than blocking homophobic comments and hiding the issue away.
Does corporate support or sponsorship of LGBTQ+ Pride influence my likelihood to support the brands? Yes I think it does, generally. But for my continued support, brands need to extend their LGBTQ+ initiatives beyond Pride month and into the rest of the year.
PS here's an adorable picture of our son, Richard, all decked out and ready for pride.
See more of our proud little family over on Instagram by clicking here.
Happy Pride 🌈