Pride is ‘beacon of hope’ when LGBT+ community ‘ridiculed and persecuted’ say first openly gay Potters Bar couple at Hertsmere council
PUBLISHED: 10:05 19 August 2020 | UPDATED: 11:35 19 August 2020
Two Potters Bar councillors – who are the first openly gay Hertsmere Borough Council couple – have spoken out about their work since being elected in May 2019.
Furzefield ward’s Cllr Christian Grey and Cllr Chris Myers look back on their focus for inclusivity in the week that Herts Pride does not go-ahead due to coronavirus.
They said: “We were elected on a local platform to address local issues for the residents of our ward in Potters Bar. First, and foremost, we represent those residents and that is our number one priority.
“We firmly believe that representative democracy should be just that, representative. This is as important in local government as in the dizzying heights of the Palaces of Westminster. However, there is no getting away from the fact we are the first openly gay couple to sit in the chamber at Hertsmere.
“Indeed, we did not shy away from the subject on the doorstep when we were canvassing last year. The question came up from time to time, and barely a negative word came our way. In fact, we actually met other members of the LGBTQ+ community whilst knocking on those doors, and we have continued to do so ever since in our capacity as borough councillors.
“We see our wider role on the council as representing the LGBTQ+ community of our borough and giving a voice to the often forgotten minority group to which we belong. It was vitally important to both us that we make our voices heard in the chamber and advocate for equality and inclusivity of the diverse peoples of Hertsmere.
“In the last year, we have tabled two motions in the chamber. The first aimed to introduce a whole range of measures to make Hertsmere more inclusive. Although the motion was not heard, nor voted on, we have worked with officers and allies to implement some of the measures which the motion would have delivered. This included the raising of the rainbow freedom flag for Herts Pride week each year. Pride events are a beacon of hope and celebration and a reminder that in the not too distant past, our community was ridiculed and persecuted.
“Our second motion, which was tabled last month, enjoyed cross party support from all corners of the chamber. It recognised the importance of LGBTQ+ relationship education in schools. We are both immensely proud that we have been able to effect some change for the LGBTQ+ community here in our Borough, and we will continue to do so for as long as we are able.”
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 but Herts Pride, which was set for Saturday, will go ahead in August 2021.
For more on the festival please go here hertfordshirepridesociety.co.uk.
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