With so much entertainment and activities to partake in, it would be easy to miss the humble store where Stonewall UK were set up. A simple stand draped in some merchandise and literature isn’t really one’s first point of call at a festival. However, the importance of their presence entwined with the message they were communicating this year is by no means humble.

The national charity was born out of the need to ensure the acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals without acceptation. With this years Birmingham Pride returning to its political roots in the face of the ‘No Outsiders’ protests across Birmingham, this message was needed more than ever. 

Across Birmingham, unrest has been building with the introduction of the ‘No Outsiders‘ programme in Parkfield Community School which teaches an intersectional approach to equality. Whether it be disability, race or sexuality, it teaches children that it is okay to be different and that everyone, regardless of their intersection, deserves equality and respect.

At this point in time, protests are ongoing by parents who view the programme as inappropriate for children due to its normalisation of the spectrum of sexuality.

Joshua Williams
Volunteers on Stonewall’s stand welcomed visitors with a warm smile and an open mind

Stonewall’s presence alone symbolises the true meaning behind Pride. The protest. The fight. The desire to be visible and accepted regardless of who you are. But, what it also demonstrated, to me, was hope.

On this year’s stand, Stonewall UK had blank pages for visitors to write on, simply titled, “My hope for LGBT equality is…”. In talking to them, they explained that they want messages of hope for the future of the LGBT community.

Joshua Williams
The stand was bursting with messages of hope for the future of the LGBT community

Now, I’m a writer and a speaker of many topics but this concept left me without a word initially. When we speak of LGBTQ+ equality, we often say about equal marriage, equal rights, acceptance etc. However, this Birmingham Pride demonstrated to me that equality exists on completely different levels within the LGBTQ+ community.

My personal struggle and my personal fight as a queer person of colour will differ substantially to another, depending on what intersections they present. And I can’t say that making me more equal in certain aspects will do anything to uplift, say, a white, queer person.

What I took away from this, and what I always try to stay true to, is that our fight is not uniform. It is not clear cut. We are all facing our personal fight and our personal battles.

Joshua Williams
Stonewall UK’s humble stand is monumental in what it represents for the future of the queer community

However, with this brings opportunity. Everybody within this community deserves to be respected. Everybody within this community deserves to be validated, living their lives free from persecution for expressing who they truly are. What we need, however, is not to pick and choose our battles.

What we need to do is listen. Listen to others within the community that you reside in. Listen to their struggles. Their battles. Their own personal fight for equality. We cannot fight solely for what will make one individual, or one group of people, more equal. We must fight to ensure that every voice, every body, every single person who identifies along the beautiful spectrum of sexuality and gender is validated. We must uplift every group – even if it seems like it may not benefit you in the short term.

To achieve equality, we must fight not only for ourselves and our own identity, but for every single intersection within this community. We must be allies in every sense of the world to our queer family.

Joshua Williams
My handwritten note on Stonewall UK’s Birmingham Pride stand advocates for queer people of colour

To me, my hope for LGBT equality is for queer people of colour to be fully at peace with both intersections of their identity. I want people like myself, torn between their sexuality and their racial expression to find solace in being who they are. In this, I hope that, in time, it becomes normalised within my culture so that no queer person of colour ever has to experience being ostracised, or disowned or insulted.

My fight is my fight. And your fight is your fight. But in demonstrating all of our battles alongside each other, Stonewall have shown that we must do more to uplift every body within this community or face strengthening the LGBTQ+ hierarchy that already exists.

WATCH: Andrew Moffat and Muslim groups leading Birmingham Pride make history…

Birmingham Pride takes place on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26thMay over the Bank Holiday weekend. Tickets are still available here.

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