Every year, the LGBT+ staff and students at LTU joins with the larger Leeds community to celebrate Pride Month, in order to celebrate who we are, what we’ve accomplished and to promote acceptance, inclusivity and diversity within the city. The decision to cancel the Leeds Pride event on Sunday 2 August is understandable. Despite it being the 50th anniversary of the original Pride event in New York in 1970, Leeds City Council have taken the decision to cancel the annual parade and are encouraging us to celebrate at home with friends and family instead. I think this is pretty sound advice.

Who am I?

As a newly appointed member of the Leeds Trinity staff community, I was very much looking forward to celebrating in Leeds this year. As a former graduate of the city, Leeds was the first place where I felt comfortable enough to begin to get to know the real me, even if it took some time to truly figure it all out. I’m a non-binary pansexual person, and my gender identity aligns somewhere within the middle of a gender spectrum, where I consider myself to be an androgyne, or in my case gender neutral.

What’s a non-binary androgyne?

I identify with androgyny as a gender-presentation. For me, this means I don’t really feel either male or female, even though at times I may look like a specific gender identity – most people assume I am male. This was particularly confusing for me growing into adulthood, as people would use terms such as ‘bi-sexual’ to describe me as I dated both male and female partners and would nod as though that was my identity crisis solved. Instead, I struggled for years. It took  meeting another non-binary person to help me come to realise who I really was and find a place of acceptance for myself in my life. Not only that, I’ve come to realise that there is a whole community of non-binary gender-queer people out there too who accept me without judgement and take me for who I am no questions asked!

What does Pride mean to me?

For me, Pride is about multiple things, but I believe it starts with acceptance. That generally is and should be a big part of the wider LGBT+ community and I believe we are getting there. It’s not just about queer communities though. I think it is about embracing a greater culture of inclusivity, acceptance and celebrating diversity in all its forms, and that for me is a lovely thing to strive for. For me, Pride is also about hope. I believe as a member of the LGBT+ community that I have a right to be respected and accepted for who I am, and I hope that such individual rights will be accepted more in the future. Looking back over the last twenty years of my life and how LGBT+ rights have changed, I have confidence that they will.

What will I be doing for pride this year?

Well, I’m stuck in Liverpool, rather than my spiritual Yorkshire home, which is where I was hoping to be this summer. So instead, I am probably going to Stay indoors, celebrate online and maybe have a few real drinks in a number of virtual get-togethers online. Social distancing, staying safe and hoping for a brighter and healthier future for us all. Oh, and I shall probably hang out with my cat and watch season two of The Umbrella Academy. Not just a gender-queer, but also a sci-fi nerd at heart.

So, with that I’d like to say best wishes to you all in the upcoming new University year and hopefully we can all be together on campus soon!

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