United by Pride

Pride 2022 Press Conference Full Speech

We are gathered here today to commemorate 53 years from one of the biggest milestones in the history of the LGBTQI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Plus) movement: the Stonewall Uprising. The urge and the need for Pride were born out of shame, disenfranchisement, neglect and persecution. Two trans women said “no more”, and our community demanded to fight for everything that is rightfully ours. That means equal rights, equal participation and equal benefits in every aspect of social, political, and economic life, governance and polity.

We have collaborated as a group of five different organisations and groups: Queer Cyprus Association, Queer Collective CY, LGBT-PILIPINAS, LGBT Africa and LGBTQIA+ & Allies Students Club of the University of Cyprus, in order to bring to the community OUR version of what Pride means.

Our version of Pride means presence, visibility, intersectionality and demands for the future. Our future, however, does not end at a checkpoint or a mediaeval wall. Our future is universal, united and interconnected. The struggles we face are also connected. They are not the same nor are they monolithic. They are intersectional, and they do not end with gender identity, sexual orientation, or sexual expression. They involve ethnicity, nationality, social status, economic class, religion and every single one of the characteristics that make a human be treated as Othered.

As such, the rise of the far-right within Cyprus, and Europe at large, jeopardises the work which has been done inter-communally and sets us back years. We are forced back into the closet, in the name of their love for a homeland which they have violated repeatedly and will keep on exploiting. With the resilience and strength of expression that characterize the Queer Community, we will NOT be put back in the closet, we will NOT be silenced and we will NOT be appropriated.

This first Intercommunal Pride which we have organised today is intended to show that our community wishes to be the frontrunner in breaking these barriers, listening to those not heard, inspire discussions, show solidarity, regardless of the intersections that make us different, and to set the agenda for a better Cyprus. A united Cyprus, a single Cyprus and a Cyprus that respects the dignity of every single one of its citizens and residents.

We would also like to make a special reference to LGBT Africa, one of the co-hosting groups mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, the Police only allows persons with a settled refugee status to cross within the UN Buffer Zone and not to asylum seekers. These and a number of the people have not been able to join the final part of this first Intercommunal Pride, but they are here with us in spirit. This exclusion of an invisible minority from this event is even more telling of the need for a peaceful solution to the Cyprus conflict. A solution that has to take into account not only the island’s multicultural history but its refreshed reality as a diverse island with different communities and minorities. It is a reminder that the wider fight to be treated as rightful equals is not limited to LGBTQI+ individuals, but includes any upcoming minoritarian oppressions, across ours and the generations to come, our society, or the person beside us.

We thank each and every single one of you for coming together today to mark our Pride as a historical event for the LGBTQI+ movement of this island. If the respective authorities on the two sides of the divide do not solve the conflict, we will continuously remind them that we are here, we are queer, and we will tear down these walls!

Thank you very much.

United by Pride