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I always knew I was ‘different’ from a young age but didn’t really know what that meant until I was around 11 years old. I felt embarrassed and ashamed for a long time. I repressed my identity and just wanted to fit in.

Growing up, I struggled to relate to other people. I’d always compare myself and wonder why I felt that I didn’t really belong. This was a common theme throughout my time at school. Being LGBTQ+ wasn’t really spoken about and I didn’t see much representation in the media.

It wasn’t until I left school and found other LGBTQ+ people who had similar experiences to me, that I started to feel more comfortable with my sexuality.

Being South Asian and LGBTQ+ can be difficult – though I’m part of two communities, I feel as though I’m not truly part of either one. I’ve had to deal with homophobia from one group and racism from the other. Which has had a massive impact on my own mental health over the years.

Coming from a religious upbringing was difficult as I had certain cultural expectations which didn’t really align with my own beliefs and what I wanted to do with my life – this led to feelings of shame, for me personally but also for my family too.

I’m really lucky to have a family that’s supportive. I remember coming out to my Mum and my two brothers and the response was “…we already know”. I’d made an assumption in my own head and the reality was totally different. However, it’s not something I’ve felt comfortable being open about with my extended family. So there is a line.

I’ve found safety and comfort in queer spaces for people of colour, but there aren’t many especially in smaller cities like Leicester – where there are gay spaces but they often cater for white cis gay men. We still have a lot of work to do when it comes to finding inclusive, accessible and representative spaces.

What does Pride mean to me?

  • It’s about honouring the people before us who’ve paved the way for LGBTQ+ rights and celebrating the contribution of LGBTQ+ people all over the world.
  • It’s about continuing the fight for issues that we’re still facing – e.g. violence against trans people, particularly those of colour, banning conversion therapy practices, and more simply – changing attitudes and challenging perceptions.
  • It’s about visibility – we have a lot of power as an organisation and it’s important people from all different backgrounds feel that Mind is also there to support them, and making a proactive effort to reach this community.
  • It’s about showing people that there is so much to celebrate being LGBTQ+ and it’s okay to have some fun along the way!