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Offering visibility and a sense of love and freedom
In celebration of Malta Pride Month this September, Malta Together caught up with CLAYTON MERCIECA from ALLIED RAINBOW COMMUNITIES to discover the importance of this movement and the impact it has on the local community:
"Malta Pride was always and will always be about our yearning for belonging, to be considered as equals and to live our lives expressed the way we want it without condemnation.
The first Malta Pride took place in 2004 and was organised by the Malta Gay Rights Movement back then. It was a very different time for LGBTIQ people and, in fact, less than 100 people turned up for the march in Valletta because there was a lot of fear of coming out. I remember attending that first Pride March as a partially closeted gay teenager, being only 18 and only a couple of friends knew of my sexual orientation. In fact, I stayed on the sidelines, watching and following from a safe distance. But being there, it felt that finally I was not alone. That is something I will always remember Pride to have given me. A sense of belonging.
Growing up and realising you have feelings for individuals of the same sex rather than the opposite was a very confusing moment for me and for which I denied for many years. I remember crying in bed every night and hoping I won't wake up again. Many LGBTIQ people share the same struggle because they feel alone. Back then, social media and the internet was inexistent and always dreamt of the technology where I could just find others like me.
Having said that, nowadays, although this kind of technology is available, and LGBTIQ people feel more comfortable coming out at a much younger age, that sense of affirmation is far from reality for many. Many of us still hear subtle messages of hate, experience forms of micro-aggression and are stared at weirdly for expressing our authentic selves.
Pride remains an important movement for our community, it offers visibility and a sense of love and freedom that no other event could provide.
We definitely hope to keep growing the movement year after year, once it's safe to gather, in order to keep bringing about acceptance for all minorities. Let's not forget that each new generation has to face a coming out and Pride can be a lifeline for those who feel isolated and misunderstood.
It was definitely a beautiful surprise this year seeing the Malta Police Force adding pride colours to their logo this month and obviously many other organisations joined along. We just hope this transpires in changing attitudes that truly welcomes diversity in all its forms."
To show your support for this initiative, become a Rainbow Member of Allied Rainbow Communities this month and get a free Progress Pride flag delivered to you! Rainbow Members will also be part of a quarterly draw with amazing prizes to be won and will get a virtual membership card on their smart phone containing a number of benefits and discounts!