Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation and LGBT+ Network member, Claire Morphy shares her recent experience at Pride promoting organ donation.
I have been representing Organ Donation at Scotland’s Pride events (Aberdeen and Edinburgh done, Glasgow and Dundee still to go!) for the last 3 years and this has allowed me to help address perceived inequalities particularly in the MSM (Men who have sex with Men) community about the ability to donate organs after death. We have found that there are widespread misconceptions surrounding the donation of organs, many believing that the same rules apply for organ donation as for blood donation. There have been some really positive reactions within the HIV positive community to the news that they can also be organ donors and we have seen many people signing up to donate.
In being involved in this way, it has really struck me what an evolution Pride has come through over the years. From the first Pride march in 1970, born out of political activism in reaction to terrible events which took place at the Stonewall Inn, New York City in 1969 to the first Pride festival in my adopted home Aberdeen which could only be seen as a celebration of diversity and all things LGBTQ+.
Pride for me is an annual reminder not only to celebrate our diversity, but also to remember the history which unites us. In my lifetime, the LGBTQ+ community have fought relentlessly in so many different ways: against the legal system to decriminalise homosexuality, against disease, against death, against drug companies who would not invest in anti-HIV medications, against Governments to make anti-retroviral drugs available to all, and most recently to make PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) available in the UK.
The LGBTQ+ community have fought against prejudice, against fear, against stigma, against hatred, against shame. We have pressed for, and seen the advent of the Equality Act 2010 which protects us in a way that we have never before been protected under UK law. We should be proud! It’s an amazing legacy.
What strikes me now is that many of our young emerging LGBTQ+ people do not have any knowledge of this past, for them Pride is a celebration of personal acceptance, of belonging, of freedom from judgement. It is about everything that makes us different in all our bright colours, uniting us in rainbow styling. It is happy, joyful, loud and liberating. It is a festival, not a political statement. Perhaps this is the greatest legacy of all, that laws and attitudes have changed so much over such a short space of time, driven by the brave and the proud, to allow the LGBTQ+ community of the future to rejoice in just being their true, authentic selves and to love whoever they want to love. Bravo!
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