Welwyn Garden City councillor details coming out story and advocates LGBT+ community to have Herts Pride

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 August 2020

Welwyn Hatfield borough councillor Max Holloway. Picture: Supplied by Cllr Holloway

Welwyn Hatfield borough councillor Max Holloway. Picture: Supplied by Cllr Holloway

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Herts Pride is cancelled but the party continues online with a WGC councillor urging the community to use their voices.

Borough councillor Max Holloway, respresenting Howlands, explained how “borrowing enough courage” from his friends he was able to come out to his mum when he was 16.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome – she was accepting, comforting and just relieved that I was ok. I wish this was everyone’s experience, but sadly it’s not and that’s why LGBT+ history month and events like Herts and London Pride are so important.

“In the early days of lockdown, I hosted a discussion panel across the East of England on Pride in lockdown, and how this uniquely impacts the LGBT+ Community. I was so happy to hear from people across the region and across Hertfordshire on the ways the community had rallied around and created a host of online events. Now these certainly don’t replace the physical atmosphere of Pride, but they do capture its spirit – and that’s what’s so important.

“Lockdown has ironically opened up Pride – instead of a park in Watford or a parade in London, this year it’s streamed direct into people’s homes through webinars and Zoom calls. It’s allowed the community to come together at a time when we couldn’t feel further apart, especially those enduring isolation either alone, or with families that are unsupportive.

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“Pride for me has a root in protest and I think that’s something we shouldn’t lose sight of. From the public outcry against the homophobic Section 28, to the cross-community solidarity of LGSM (Lesbian and Gays support the Miners) in the 80’s. Pride has always been a place that celebrates the concept of solidarity – and I think that’s what I like about it the most.

“But there’s still lots to do – the struggles of the 70s, 80s and even 90s haven’t gone away. There’s still prejudice out there – and while I feel Welwyn Hatfield is in large an inclusive place to grow up, there’s always room for improvement. Nationally we see hate crime rising and trans people are suffering horrendous assaults from the Government and the press.

“So, I’d encourage anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ or an ally to feel comfortable and empowered to use your voice – it’s so important. Yes, we’ve made a lot of progress but there’s still a way to go.”

Many LGBT+ people have had a very negative experience during the lockdown and pandemic, with a recent study by University College London (UCL) and Sussex University finding that 69 per cent of respondents suffered depressive symptoms as a result.

So this year for Herts Pride, which was set for Saturday but will go ahead in August 2021, The Welwyn Hatfield Times is sharing stories of pride online.

For more on the festival please go here hertfordshirepridesociety.co.uk.


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