By Gareth Kitson, RPS Professional Development and Engagement Lead
I had known for a long time that I was gay but had never had to acknowledge it. I never engaged with the LGBT+ community at Uni as I had a ready-made group of friends. I wasn’t confident enough to engage with members of the community as I felt I had to behave in a certain way. After moving to London I was pushed into the one of the most vibrant and diverse communities in the world and wasn’t ready for the effect it would have on me.
Every aspect of the LGBT+ community had “tribes” or “communities” and I really struggled to find my place. I also found it really hard to make friends outside of a dating environment. Most gay men will tell you the same story – insecurity, isolation and the struggle to “fit in”.
In July 2012 I was out shopping on Oxford Street and accidentally stumbled on the Pride in London Parade. I felt overwhelmed, curious and confused as to what was happening. I stopped and watched the entire Parade pass by and spent the rest of the day reflecting on what I had just seen.
For the first time, I suddenly felt that I wasn’t alone. I suddenly realised that there were other people living in the same city as me who identified as a member of the LGBT+ community. There were opportunities to meet people who may have gone through the same experiences as you, be it coming to terms with your own identity or coming out to your family and friends.
This one day showed me that people from all backgrounds can stand next to each other and be proud of who they are. That families can gather and show their children that it is OK for a man to love a man and that some of their friends may have two mummies instead of a mummy and a daddy.
It was heart-warming, confidence-boosting and empowering when I finally realised that I wasn’t alone. That I could live my life as I wanted, being true to who I really was, in the city I now called home. That’s why Pride matters.
Members of staff and members of the RPS will be walking in the Parade on 6th July. If you see us, give us a wave #wearepharmacy.