As Pride Month rolls around, it is my wont to write something a little more serious and considered than the usual ranting, expletive-laden frivolity you’re likely to encounter on my Twitter account. I appreciate I’ve left it a little late this year, but I reckon not dealing with things until you absolutely have to is 2018’s jam, so I should still be ok.

I’m not even sure what this piece will be about, I just felt as though I should write…something. I think, though, I’d like to talk about myself for a while. I know that’s probably going to elicit a few groans, but fuck it: I’m in charge here, not you.

For those of you who don’t know, my situation is a little unusual. It started off fairly typically, I guess: closeted guy gets married, has a family, finally comes out…you know how that one ends. Except it didn’t end that way for me. My wife and I are still together, and not just to keep up appearances or because we have a child, but because we actually want to be together.

In many ways, this is the best outcome I could have hoped for. With the odd (quite understandable) wobble aside, she has been unflinchingly understanding and supportive, and, whilst our relationship has unarguably altered substantially over the past two years, that change has been, to an overwhelming degree, positive. So I had the benefit of being able to be honest about who I am, with none of the upheaval of a messy divorce and all the associated unpleasantness. Great.

But that’s not quite the whole story.

You see, I’ve always struggled with my identity, and that struggle continues to this day. I spent 37 years feeling like I didn’t fit, like I didn’t really belong anywhere. Then I came out, and, for obvious reasons, immediately began to identify as bisexual. That was great at first, but after the initial euphoria of being out had started to abate, I realised that I didn’t really feel bisexual. With the exception of the one with whom I’d spent the past decade and a half of my life, I wasn’t really attracted to women at all. 

So I started to identify as gay. This felt better to me – more honest at least – but it brought with it its own problems. Primary amongst these is the fact that I’ve never really felt accepted by other gay men. I feel like they view me as an outsider, an imposter. Indeed, some have explicitly stated as much to my face. As a result, I started to feel that way about myself, not least of all because, when you look at it objectively, their argument has some merit. So I’d gone from not really fitting in as a straight guy to not really fitting in as a gay guy. I felt like I’d been cast adrift, back into that ocean of not belonging. 

Then there are the questions. Oh, Jesus, the fucking questions:

“Why are you still married?”

“You’re not really gay then, are you?”

“Do you still have sex?”

“How does THAT work?”

Quite aside from the fact that these things are no one’s fucking business but my own, I wonder how many people would presume to ask a straight person they hardly know (or even one they know quite well) why they bother to stay married, or indeed whether they still have sex with their spouse.

These questions began to take their toll because, whilst I’m very open about who I am online, I still wasn’t totally comfortable in real life situations being a queer guy who’s married to a woman. So I found myself reverting to the old habit of ‘passing’ as straight to avoid the funny looks or the probing questions. And I fucking hated it. I’d spent most of my life pretending to be someone I wasn’t, and it felt like I was still hiding even after risking everything by coming out.

I’ve attempted to explain my situation a thousand different ways to a thousand different people, but I’m not sure any of them really get it. All I know is that I’ve been through an awful lot of shit over the course of my adult life – some soaring highs and some desperate, crashing lows – and the one person I’ve always known I can rely on to be there, without question, without equivocation, is my wife. 

We laugh a lot. Sometimes we cry. We take the piss out of each other mercilessly. We argue, but not very often. We mourn our departed pets like they’re members of our family because that’s exactly what they are. We celebrate each other’s victories as though they were our own, and commiserate on each other’s failures to an equal degree. We lift each other up during times of hardship, and appreciate the good times all the more for it. We drink wine and go for walks, though not usually at the same time. We share common values and work together to instill them in our son, who we’re certain will one day turn out to be a fine young man. So whereas we might not have ended up together had I had the courage to be honest about who I was when I was 20, I feel like it’s an awful lot to throw away now I’m pushing 40.

I realise I’m rambling now, but I wanted to provide a little context to the statement that this last year has been what you might describe as a little bit really fucking awful for me. On top of the stuff I’ve already mentioned, my son was hospitalised in quite a dramatic and somewhat traumatic fashion in February/March, and I also endured the most stressful house purchase/move it’s possible to imagine shortly after that. There have been times over the past 12 months when it’s fair to say I’ve been in a bit of a state.

I’ve suffered some pretty horrible bouts of depression going back several years, and I waited far too long to seek treatment. When I did eventually decide to get help, I had to battle with the gatekeepers of my local NHS trust’s mental health services in order to be allowed access to even a short course of counselling. I know I’ve said it many times before, and I will no doubt say it again a million times in the future, but fuck every single member of this uniquely fucking evil government.

Anyway, after I had finally secured the treatment I needed, I started having some therapy earlier this year. I don’t feel as though I got the best out of the sessions as my anxiety was off the fucking chart with the house stuff, but it definitely helped. I don’t even think my therapist was particularly amazing at dealing with my particular issues, but just being able to talk to someone impartial was a huge positive for me.

If nothing else, I think the sessions helped me to change the way I think about certain problems. I still struggle with my identity, but I’ve learned not to dwell on it too much. One day I suspect such labels as ‘gay’ and ‘bi’ will be redundant and people will just be attracted to whoever they’re attracted to without worrying about which particular box they fit into. Maybe I was just born a few hundred years too early.

I’ve also learned to be less bothered by the inappropriate questions because, ultimately, they’re not a thing I can control. All I can do is be the best version of myself it’s possible to be, to be open and honest about who I am, and to invite those who don’t like it to go eat a big fucking bucketful of Trump dicks. I am what I am, and all that.

Which brings me neatly back onto Pride Month. This year, as with every other, there have been the usual cries of, “Why do you still need Pride?” from people who really shouldn’t be allowed to operate anything more dangerous than a fucking duvet without professional supervision. There are a whole range of very general answers to this eminently fucking ridiculous question, but I hope this article provides a more specific, personal example. I still need Pride, and I suspect I always will because it’s never gonna be easy being who I am. It is getting easier, though.

I guess sometimes, if you’re really lucky, life works out exactly as you had planned and everything just falls perfectly into place. More often than not, however, we have to play an imperfect hand and try not to lose the farm. Well it’s been a monumental fucking struggle, but I still have my farm and the soil is reasonably fertile and there are even some pigs and chickens wandering around somewhere. It’s doing ok.

I have a confession to make: I’m a pedant. I am the sort of person who will react like a steak-deprived Jeremy Clarkson at the sight of an erroneous your/you’re, and who will beat his fist on the desk like a millionaire Tory MP who’s just been told about a proposed £3 per month increase in the rate of disability benefits at the use of the word ‘I’ when it should rightly be ‘me’. For many of you, this will hardly come as a surprise, but it did give me cause to stop and think about my reaction over the past few days to the persistent use of the term ‘Gay Pride’ by a range of news outlets and social media users.

The BBC News channel’s coverage of Belfast Pride on Saturday repeatedly referred to the event as ‘Gay Pride’ (though they also referred to homophobic fuckweasels as ‘religious conservatives’, so accuracy obviously isn’t high on their agenda); that bastion of left wing inclusivity The Guardian told us yesterday that the National Trust had reversed its decision to require volunteers to wear ‘gay pride badges’ (because even those volunteering for charities should be free to behave like arseholes, presumably); and The Star proudly reported how Michaella McCollum (no, me neither) was pictured ‘flashing her nips at Gay Pride in Brighton’, which is presumably the sort of hard-hitting journalism the author, Nicholas Bieber, feels justifiably proud of having produced. The monumental titwank.

Perhaps most worryingly, though, a quick Google search for the term ‘Gay Pride’ brought up the following result:

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I can’t even begin to explain that last one, but the organisers of a Pride event really ought to know better.

Every time I hear the words ‘Gay Pride’, my reaction is similar to that experienced when I witness ‘imply’ and ‘infer’ being used interchangeably: my brow furrows, my buttocks clench (often audibly) and I let out the exasperated sigh of a teenage boy whose parents simply won’t fuck off out so that he can have a wank. Given my self-confessed pedantry, therefore, it was only natural that I should start to wonder whether my objection to this phrase is just another manifestation of my somewhat anal commitment to linguistic accuracy.

The short answer is that it is not. Having given the matter a good degree of thought, I have reached the conclusion that my bristling is actually quite justified. Whereas the first Pride events were routinely referred to as ‘Gay Pride’, this hasn’t been the case now for many years, and rightly so. Our lesbian, bisexual, trans and other queer friends have been with us from the start, playing an instrumental role in the Stonewall riots of 1969, and in organising the very first Pride event the following year.

For the most part, LGB rights have improved immeasurably since the late 1960s, but it’s sad to say that the rights of trans, intersex and non-binary people haven’t kept pace. Whilst LGBT+ people still experience disproportionately high rates mental illness across the board, by far the worst affected are trans people, around 40% of whom will attempt suicide at some point in their lives. And far from looking upon this as a reason for attitudes to change, many a loathsome shit will actually use the intolerably high rates of attempted suicide as a stick with which to beat trans people:

“Trans people aren’t ‘stuck in the wrong body’, they’re just mentally ill – look at their suicide rates!”

What these subhuman sacks of festering excrement fail to realise (or do realise but are simply too fucking vile to care), is that trans people aren’t taking their own lives because they’re who they are, but because of the nasty, small-minded shite fountains who abuse, belittle and attack them for who they are. Their families disown them, their friends ridicule them and a rabid, unchecked right wing media portrays them as something to fear and deride. High-profile commentators, like the arse-faced, steaming bucket of pig jizz that is Piers Morgan, routinely use their platforms to make bigoted statements about trans people with little or no backlash. And whilst it would be nice to lay all the blame at the door of oily, shitty little cunts like Morgan, it’s disappointing to report that it’s not possible to do so. As I touched on in my previous article for Pride Month, casual (and not so casual) transphobia is still rife in the LGB community. All too often, I hear words like ‘tranny’ and ‘she-male’ being thrown around by assorted cis-gay fucktrumpets who, quite understandably, don’t particularly like it when they’re referred to as ‘poofs’ or ‘faggots’. It really has to stop.

Another problem we face as a community is our tendency to dismiss bisexual people as ‘confused’ or ‘undecided’, with a troublingly large minority of gays and lesbians being willing to declare that ‘bisexuality doesn’t really exist’. I have to say, I bear a good degree of residual guilt for the prevalence of such views because, although it’s certainly not an idea I subscribe to in any way, I did feed into this narrative by identifying as bisexual when I first came out. I think my reasons for that were fairly easy to justify (it wasn’t a conscious decision – I actually was a little confused), but it doesn’t stop me feeling like a gigantic twat, all the same. That said, it’s important to note that, whilst there are confused people who identify as bisexual, not all bisexuals are confused. And neither are they an inconsequential part of our community that we can simply forget about when it suits us.

Like it or not, we are in this together. From the lesbian who incited the unrest after being hit on the head by a police officer outside the Stonewall bar, to the trans women who risked everything to throw rocks at law enforcement officials and the bisexual people who fought alongside them; our pasts, and our futures, are inextricably linked. It seems a little like some in the gay community are happy to reap the benefits of the support we received from lesbian, bisexual, trans and queer activists then, and in the many years since Stonewall, without feeling the need to return the favour when it’s most needed.

So I urge you, fellow gays, to drop the term ‘Gay Pride’ from your vocabulary. It erases those members of our community who have stood up alongside us for so many years and betrays exactly the same level of privileged bollocks that so many straight people unthinkingly shit out on a daily basis (straight pride, anyone?). Moreover, if you see others referring to Pride as ‘Gay Pride’, correct them. Whether it’s a 300-follower user of Twitter, your Daily Mail-reading aunt on Facebook, or an international media outlet, it’s an exercise worth undertaking. None of us are free until all of us are free, and it’s up to us to ensure that every single part of our community is represented. It’s patently obvious that we can’t trust the media to regulate itself in this regard, so we have to accept responsibility for saying to them that it’s not ok to erase the LBTQ people upon whose shoulders we are so fortunate to stand.

For those of you who missed it, yesterday was Heterosexual Pride Day. At least, it was on Twitter, where the topic was the number one worldwide trend for several hours. I have to say, it’s about bloody time.

For too long now, life for straight people in this country (and others) has been a seemingly endless uphill struggle against LGBT tyranny, and it’s time for the privileged queer majority to sit up and take notice. So many of us can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to not even be able to hold our partner’s hand in public for fear of being ridiculed, abused or beaten, and what most LGBT people don’t realise is that, in certain parts of the UK, straight people still can’t legally be married.

It goes further than this though. Did you know, for example, that until around a decade ago, it was perfectly legal to discriminate against non-LGBT people based on their sexual orientation? In everything from employment, to housing, to provision of goods and services, this downtrodden straight minority was afforded zero protection under the law. Some were even evicted from their homes for no other reason than that they were in an opposite sex relationship.

And whilst things have improved for heterosexual people over the years, their struggle continues to this very day. The way straight people are portrayed in TV programmes as ridiculous, over the top stereotypes, for example, or the way gay characters in sitcoms still routinely imply that their friends are straight as a kind of jokey insult, perpetuates the notion that straight people are somehow lesser, that it’s ok for them to be the butt of the joke. The huge public outcry every time a man is seen kissing a woman in a pre-watershed TV soap is further evidence that full equality remains a long way off.

Even the news that Germany has finally legalised opposite sex marriage this week was tempered by the fact that their Chancellor, Angela Merkel, so often held up as the sort of leader we could only dream about in this country, voted against the legislation because she feels that marriage should only be permitted between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. And our own government here in the UK has recently entered into an arrangement to enable them to cling onto power, with a party whose leaders have equated straight sex with besiality and paedophilia.

It’s important, then, that a day exists where straight people can celebrate the progress that has been made in recent years, and to raise awareness of the many battles they have yet to win. And how fitting that this day should come during LGBT Pride month, giving a massive middle finger to the self-interested, attention-seeking dykes, poofs, greedy bastards and trannies who have dominated the discussion for far too long.

“They couldn’t get him on his record, so they got him on his racism. I’m deeply uncomfortable with that.”

“He was asked whether black people are inherently inferior, and I think he clearly feels they are, but couldn’t say so. This troubles me.” 

“He thinks that white people are the superior race, but it doesn’t matter what he thinks, it matters how he acts. Anything else is the persecution of private convictions.” 

“I’ll argue against anyone who thinks black people are somehow beneath white people, but I wouldn’t preclude those who do think that from politics or public life.” 

“Denying people the right to be racist is not liberalism, it’s intolerance.” 

“He can be racist for moral or religious reasons, and I don’t understand why it’s not possible to be ok with that.”

Sounds horrible doesn’t it?

It sounds horrible because, for most people, racism is objectively wrong. There are no grey areas – it’s unacceptable, whatever the justification. It’s difficult to imagine that anyone would seek to defend racist views in the manner outlined above because, whilst we value our right to free speech, it’s generally accepted that free speech does not mean that there shouldn’t be any consequences associated with our decision to exercise that right.

If you were a politician who had generally voted in favour of equal rights for people from minority ethnic backgrounds, therefore, and it later came to light that your private beliefs were somewhat racist, there would, quite rightly, be a considerable degree of public consternation. To move that on a step, if you were the leader of a progressive political party and you privately held racist views, you would, almost universally I suspect, be considered unsuitable to continue in that particular post.

If it’s not yet obvious, I should inform you that each of the quotes at the beginning of this piece has been altered. The original statements referred to Tim Farron’s decision to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats and were made by people seeking to excuse homophobia rather than racism. And whereas the quotes in the form that they appear above would be jarring to the sensibilities of most non-racist people, if they appeared in their unaltered form, many of the same people would be nodding along in agreement.

This begs the question as to why it’s still considered acceptable (or at least, less unacceptable) to hold negative views about LGBT people, when views of a racist nature would not be tolerated.

Much of this stems from the undue reverence we still afford to religious belief, which, apparently, must never be questioned under any circumstances. However readily a religious person would seek to denigrate you for things over which you have no control, their views must always be treated with unwavering respect. So if a politician is, as Mr Farron was, so conflicted between his personal views about gay sex and his role as the leader of a liberal party that he felt he had no other option but to resign, it’s really the fault of us intolerant gays, who dared not to respect his ‘sincerely held belief’ that we’re upsetting his god by having sex with one another.

This ‘free pass’ that religion seems to enjoy where other ideologies would be justifiably criticised is irksome enough in and of itself, but when you factor in the blatant and unashamed cherry-picking that accompanies religiously-justified prejudice, it’s utterly incomprehensible. You see, unless Mr Farron thinks that slavery is acceptable, that women who are raped should be stoned to death, that it’s an abomination to wear a cotton/linen blend and that the Lord will smite him for eating a prawn sandwich, his apologists don’t get to excuse his views on gay sex by simply saying, “It’s prohibited in The Bible.”

In the book of Leviticus alone, there are 76 different things that we’re told we must not do lest we upset the divine creator of the universe. Most Christians have abandoned many of these prohibitions as unworkable, outdated, or just plain silly, and yet, ‘lying with a man as with a woman’ still seems to be a sticking point for some of them. It’s almost as if this particular verse conveniently validates their personal prejudices, so they choose to believe that Yahweh gets really angry about gay sex, but not so much about the trimming of beards.

I think the other reason for this double standard between racism and homophobia is the enduring belief of some unenlightened individuals that being LGBT is a ‘lifestyle choice’. Of course, these people ignore the obvious arguments that ‘choosing’ to be LGBT means choosing to limit the number of people with whom we could conceivably enter into a relationship to a tiny fraction of the population, choosing to risk being ostracised by our family and friends, and choosing to place ourselves at greater risk of being physically attacked as a result of our ‘decision’, but that’s another issue. Even among those who don’t literally believe that we choose to be LGBT, there are those who seek to trivialise homophobia as if they really did believe that.

Many young LGBT people grow up with internalised feelings of shame about who they are, believing on some level that they’re ‘wrong’ or ‘abnormal’. This is hardly surprising when, according to an LGBT Foundation survey, 95% of school pupils have heard the word ‘gay’ being used as a pejorative, 75% of school staff have witnessed homophobic bullying, and only 9% of the pupils asked thought that a young LGBT person would feel safe coming out at school. It’s no surprise, then, that rates of depression, self harm and suicide are more than twice as high for LGBT people as they are for heterosexual people.

And this, in my opinion, is the crux of the whole issue. By saying that he thinks gay sex is a sin (or prevaricating on so many occasions when asked whether he thinks that this is the case), Mr Farron is feeding into this sense of being ‘other than’ that so many young LGBT people experience. After all, if the leader of a party with the word ‘liberal’ in its name can’t state unequivocally that gay sex is no different to straight sex in the eyes of his chosen deity without being badgered into it, how is the young person struggling with their sexual identity supposed to interpret that?

Support from LGBT allies is arguably the single most important factor in staring to reverse the disproportionately high rates of mental illness (and worse) in LGBT people. People in positions of power and influence standing up and saying clearly and unambiguously that there’s nothing inherently wrong or sinful about any aspect of being LGBT can have a hugely beneficial effect on those who might be struggling with their sexuality or gender identity. And any reluctance to do so can have precisely the opposite effect.

So no, political commentators and assorted Twitter account holders, it’s not ‘persecution’ for us to reject religion as the cloak of acceptability in which Mr Farron’s bronze age views are draped. It’s not ‘intolerant’ to decry homophobia as unacceptable in any circumstances, just as deploring racism is not in itself a form of bigotry. And it’s not unreasonable to expect that a person describing themselves as ‘liberal’, should hold exclusively liberal beliefs on LGBT-related issues, both publicly and in private.

I was a little late to the party where Pride is concerned. This time last year, I was still contemplating the prospect of emerging from the closet in which I had spent the previous 37 years.

My secondary school was an unforgiving sort of place, a hulking, miserable pile of concrete in which anyone uttering the phrase, “I’m attracted to other guys,” would have spent a disproportionate amount of time with their head forcibly inserted into a toilet bowl. I found life there unpleasant enough without the added bonus of daily beatings, so pretending to be someone I wasn’t seemed like the path of least resistance.

By the time I reached adulthood, I didn’t know anything else. I got married, had a son, did what was expected of me. But it was there. It was always there, no matter how hard I tried to push it away. And I did try. I tried really hard.

Up until I turned thirty, I was pretty good at it, though I can see now that this level of self-denial was anything other than ‘good’. I don’t know what happened in my early thirties, but the feelings I had tried so long to suppress began to re-emerge, growing in strength as time progressed. I recall the surreptitious glances at handsome guys in the street, or the times when my wife and I would be in a restaurant and I would find myself gazing a little too intently at the attractive waiter. I remember trying to rationalise such incidents to myself after they had occurred, performing mental gymnastics to convince myself that there was some explanation other than the one I dared not articulate.

When I did eventually get to the stage where I could admit to myself that I was attracted to other men, it took a further three or four months for me to mobilise the courage required to be able to tell my wife. Those weeks were comfortably the most difficult part of the whole process, wanting desperately to be honest with the person who meant the most to me, and being terrified that doing so would cause everything to blow up in my face.

As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. She cried when I told her, but not for herself. Her first thought was for me, for the suffering I had endured in all those years leading up to that point. With her acceptance, her love, her support and encouragement, I was able to let go of any residual guilt and begin to be my true self. Or nearly my true self.

When I first came out, I identified as bisexual, and I think that was the last lie I told myself. ‘Bisexual’ felt like a much less destructive bomb to drop than ‘gay’, and besides, I couldn’t be gay if I was still in love with my wife, right?

Maybe that is the case, and maybe it isn’t, but, with one exception, I have no romantic interest in women whatsoever. I guess it can be difficult for some people to understand how I can identify as gay and still be in love with a woman, but when someone has been a central figure – the central figure – in your life for sixteen years, it’s pretty difficult to just flick a switch and turn those feelings off. If I’d been honest with myself before we met, we probably wouldn’t have ended up together, but I can’t regret a single minute of it, in that sense, at least. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend the majority of my adult life with my best friend, and we’ve somehow managed to produce a beautiful, caring, accepting and open-minded son together. My coming out served only to bring us closer together, and I really can’t imagine my life without her in it. So maybe I’m gay, maybe I’m bi, or maybe I just don’t fit neatly into a particular box. Either way, I’m not particularly precious about labels.

So why am I telling you this, and what on Earth does it have to do with Pride? Why does my particular story matter in the context of this global celebration of the LGBT+ community?

I think the answer to that question is that my story is your story, and your story is mine. Our community is the sum of those tales, each one unique, and each as important as the last. Every triumph and every tragedy we experience helps to shape who we are, to inform where we’re heading. Which is why, to me, Pride is as much about celebrating the diversity within our community as it is promoting tolerance and acceptance from without.

When I first came out, I had this (somewhat naive, as it turns out) vision of the LGBT+ community as a safe, supportive and loving place, where everyone looked out for each other and no one was left behind. And whilst this is undoubtedly the case in a large proportion of instances, there’s an ugly underbelly to our community that it’s incumbent on every single one of us to help eradicate.

In a little under a year, I’ve witnessed and, in some cases, been on the receiving end of, countless instances of intolerance and bigotry towards LGBT people from the very individuals who ought to be acutely aware of the painful, destructive consequences of such actions. Even a cursory perusal of gay dating apps will pull up a worryingly large number of profiles saying such charming things as, “No blacks, no Asians, no fems.” Then you have the ‘straight-acting’ gays who say camp or effeminate gays ‘give the rest of us a bad name’, the lesbians who hate gay men altogether, and the gays and lesbians who say, “Bisexuals don’t really exist, they’re just confused.”

Seeing these ‘friendly fire’ incidents unfold with such unsettling regularity has left me baffled, disillusioned, and often angry. I don’t think I’ll ever get my head around what causes a person who has almost certainly been on the receiving end of judgement and prejudice at some point in their life to visit that same intolerance on others.

And whilst all of this LGB infighting is undoubtedly concerning, I think the biggest issue facing us right now is the tendency for the ’T’ to be figuratively erased from the LGBT+ acronym, as though trans people are somehow a lesser part of our community. Of all the incidents of ‘internal’ LGBT intolerance I have witnessed, transphobic attacks have been by far the most abundant.

The struggle for trans equality in general is probably a decade or two behind where we are with LGB rights, with this lack of acceptance being fuelled by the many shocking instances of transphobia in the right wing media. For the rest of us to be anything less than 100% behind our trans friends at this time is a gross dereliction of duty.

Now more than ever, this part of our community needs us. They need us to stand up and state, unequivocally, that we are with them, that we won’t tolerate any attempts to diminish them, or to erase them. They are us, and we are them. The only difference is time.

So, this Pride month, I ask you to reflect on how you can play your part in making the LGBT+ community more open, more accepting and more inclusive than at any time before. As we continue our inexorable march towards equality, consider the fact that there’s no way we’ll ever have true acceptance from those outside of our community if we don’t make more of an effort to support each other, and to raise up those who so many would seek to knock down.

The comparatively benign atmosphere we currently enjoy in this country is built on foundations laid down by those who have gone before, many of whom paid the ultimate price in our fight against intolerance. It’s our collective responsibility to honour their sacrifice by opposing bigotry in all its forms, by speaking up for those who don’t have a voice, by accepting those who aren’t the same as us and those who are, by being proud of who we are, and by celebrating both the diversity and the commonality that binds us together.