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Student Pride profile - Gemma Stokes

Identifying as a queer, cisgender woman, Pride is essential to me in many ways. In my mind, Pride is more than just the annual march (although the parade is incredibly uplifting). I look to incorporate Pride into every aspect of my life and identity, in order to be more unashamedly myself and maybe even inspire others along the way.

25 June 2020

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What are you currently studying at Queen Mary? English BA.

What have you enjoyed learning about the most throughout your studies so far? Over the past two years, I’ve loved studying contemporary theory – mostly queer theory. My favourite module so far is The Long Contemporary.

What does Pride mean to you and why do you think it is important to celebrate it? Identifying as a queer, cisgender woman, Pride is essential to me in many ways. In my mind, Pride is more than just the annual march (although the parade is incredibly uplifting). I look to incorporate Pride into every aspect of my life and identity, in order to be more unashamedly myself and maybe even inspire others along the way.

How will you be celebrating Pride this year given the restrictions due to COVID-19? I’ll be celebrating Pride month in lockdown with my girlfriend, but more importantly, co-ordinating with other members of the Black Lives Matter movement to educate and celebrate queer people of colour that have long been under-appreciated and underrepresented in our community.

What do you think still needs to be done to give greater equality and representation to the LGBTQ+ community? Pride and the LGBTQ+ community would not be what it is without queer people of colour. I think the LGBTQ+ community needs to work harder on intersectionality/representation and removing its biases in order to be a safe space for everyone, regardless of identity.

What words of advice would you give to someone who might identify with the LGBTQ+ community but who is too scared to be open about their sexuality for fear of what other people might think/say/do? Never feel pressured to ‘come out’. You can be open about your sexuality with the ones you love and trust, without having to live life declaring your identity. This isn’t to say hide who you are, or be ashamed, but always put your safety first. Sexuality is a spectrum, which is why I identify as queer, so don’t ever feel like you’re hiding yourself by not telling people. I’d encourage you to find members of the LGBTQ+ community you can talk to and trust, because the community is such a welcoming space, and knowing like-minded people makes a world of difference. Experiment with your sexuality - comfortably and safely. If you ever need any queer advice, or help, feel free to DM me on Instagram - @gemstokes.