Recently, I’ve been asked why, as a heterosexual, cisgender female, I work Chester pride each year?
Yes – it is a very a long and tiring day. Yes - it’s sometimes a little difficult being responsible for a group of young people in such a busy environment, trying to support them with their various mental health difficulties through the day whilst keeping an eye on everything else.
Yes – it means I give up a whole Saturday (shock horror!)
And no – we don’t get funded to do this, or to buy our t shirts, or transport, food or drink.
My answer is simple:
I do my job because I care about young people’s mental health and the research shows that nearly 1 in 4 LGBT+ young people have tried to take their own life, with 52% reporting self-harm (compared to apparently 25% of heterosexual young people).
This stark difference is due to many factors- including but not limited to social isolation, bullying, feelings of distress and not being accepted; all of which can cause anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.
In my opinion, it is my duty (as a human being, not just as a mental health practitioner) to stand with the LGBT+ community and show the young people I work with that I support them; that I believe in them and that I stand for their rights as well as my own.
To show them that it’s ok to be different, that you can explore and experiment in life if you want to, that you can love who you want and that all that matters is that you are happy, healthy and kind to others.
We know that young people in general need our support and need us to show up for them and I would do this for any young person or community that needed it… we work in a caring profession because we care and because we want to help.
I am proud to stand with my young people at Chester Pride every year....they teach and inspire me so much and I’m incredibly grateful for that.