Dr Ranj: 'Being proud was not a feeling I grew up with'

‘Pride’ has always been a strange word to me. Being proud was not a feeling I grew up with. I was a shy, timid, anxious and sometimes even scared kid. But proud? Not really.

I guess I never felt truly proud until I was able to be myself completely. And that wasn’t until my 30s. ‘Coming out’ was a big turning point of course, but it was my first Pride event that cemented my real sense of identity.

It was a bright and sunny day in London and I’d had a couple of drinks to calm my nerves and pluck up some courage. I’d been invited to be part of the parade with a wonderful group of on-screen LGBTQ+ people.

Looking out I saw a sea of smiling faces all celebrating, cheering and championing MY community (and me) just for being us.

My heart gushed with pride. And it gushed for Pride. That’s when I realised its value and importance.

Over the last 50 years, Pride has come a long way, and evolved in terms of its intentions and iterations. I think it still has a long way to go to ensure that it is completely inclusive.

But at its core, it remains the same: it should be for all of us, especially those who feel left out. It’s also a time to remind us about the universal challenges we all face as a community, particularly when it comes to things like healthcare (which is obviously my area of interest). We may be a beautifully diverse community, but our similarities and especially our mutual struggles, are what binds us.

That’s why during my Pride Guest Editor Takeover, I want to amplify two main themes: the important health issues we need to know about (especially mental health), and giving a voice to those who are not heard often enough or topics that don’t get enough coverage.

You’ll read about how we are trying to make the NHS a more inclusive space for patients and staff, the ‘health MOT’ that all LGBTQ+ people need to think about, advances in HIV prevention, trans health, and we’ll celebrate some LGBTQ+ health heroes (or my ‘queeroes’ as I affectionately call them!).

Because, after 50 years, surely we ALL deserve to feel proud… as I finally can.

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