Part three – Ying, Zhang and Joshua
Ying (left) and her girlfriend, Zhang
Both UG, Biomedical Sciences (BSc)
How do you identify?
Ying: My pronoun is she/her and I self-identify as a lesbian.
Zhang: I identify myself as a bisexual woman.
What does Pride mean to you?
Ying: Pride for me is to be my true self and to love who I love bravely.
Zhang: To me pride is just being proud of me being myself.
Have you been on a Pride march before and what are your memories?
Ying: I haven’t got a chance to go for a march before, but I will join one this month. I suppose it’ll be a fabulous chance to celebrate our identities 🙂
Zhang: Unfortunately, I haven’t, but I’m looking forward to joining the March in Bristol this year.
What does it mean to you to be part of the LGBTQ+ community?
Ying: We might be different, but we can still understand others. Being part of the LGBTQ+ community, we cheer up people like us and stand out for us.
Zhang: It’s good to know that there are also other people like me. It means that there’ll always be someone either within or outside the community willing to respect and support others.
And how important is it to study in such a diverse place?
Ying: People can be different just like a rainbow has seven colours. Studying in such a diverse place gives me a sense of acceptance and inclusion.
Zhang: Since I first came to study in the Bristol Uni, I’ve never felt that I’m too unique or weird to fit in. I haven’t felt uncomfortable when I tried to tell others my self-identification. I guess studying in such a diverse place means leaving with much less pressure and more freedom.
Research Fellow, Bristol Medical School
How do you identify?
What does Pride mean to me?
Pride is extremely important to me. It’s validity, diversity, visibility. A useful reminder that you do belong somewhere, and you can just be your authentic self.
I grew up in a place where being openly LGBT was, and still is, difficult. Bermuda is a small conservative island, ~60k people. A public vote was held there as recently as 2016 on whether to allow same-sex marriage – a totally inappropriate thing to vote on in the first place – and ~32% were supportive.
Most shocking to me was that a poll at the time suggested that 22% think that gays and lesbians don’t even deserve human rights protection (another 5% ‘not sure’). Things are improving – a 2020 poll found 53% support for same-sex marriage, though this still lags far behind the UK where this is ~80%. Those not in favour of human rights protection are down to ~8%. And 2019 saw Bermuda’s first Pride.
Marriage is just one issue, and probably not what impacts most on the health and daily lives of LGBT people, particularly those living outside major cities. Pride to me is a yearly reminder of these struggles and a chance to celebrate progress and be thankful for those who fought and still fight for our rights. Pride to me means validity, diversity, and visibility.
I have a road sign which was used for Bermuda’s same-sex marriage vote in 2016. It reads ‘Referendum: Same-sex relationships, June 23, 2016’, a stark reminder that struggles for equality are active in many parts of the world.
Can you tell me about your very first Pride march?
My first Pride was in London 10 years ago. I watched the parade from the side – at the time I couldn’t imagine marching myself. The scale and energy of it was a shock, in the best way. It felt liberating – there’s strength in numbers and visibility is so important.
Had there been Pride where I grew up, I probably would’ve figured myself out sooner. I learned that I definitely wasn’t alone and didn’t need to hide – that we all deserve to take up space and live authentically. Seeing the contrast between that and where I started makes me appreciate that atmosphere more.