Celebrating Pride Month With Niall Underwood
Niall Underwood is a model with Elite London, as well as being a writer, an artist, director of short films and soon to be Head of Content at fashion site Stylindex. To celebrate Pride month around the world, we sat down with Niall to discuss the reason for the season, progress in 2018 and the inevitable afterparties.
What does the idea of Pride mean for you?
Well, queer people across the globe face a daily fight against shame. Pride is one of the few chances we are awarded to acknowledge this struggle visibly and as a community, rather than within the lonely context of our own day-to-day lives.
Is Pride relevant to everyone?
It’s not, but it should be! I’m sure for many people it’s just a chance to party. I’m for our friends within the straight community joining in on the fun, but I think - much like the Notting Hill Carnival for the black community in London - the real point of Pride is often lost along the way.
Some people would say that being gay is now accepted more than ever before, and there is less of a need for something like Pride. Would you agree?
I whole heartedly disagree. With regards to being gay, I had as privileged an upbringing as anybody. I never had to go through the trauma of ‘coming out’, both of my parents accept me completely, I was never really bullied - everything and everyone was on my side. However, I still had (and have) unresolved issues relating to my sexuality which have made my life difficult at times. Why? Because institutional homophobia exists in every corner of our society. I’m endlessly grateful for the support network I have and I cannot imagine what life would have been like had I been born into a less fortunate position. I believe that every single queer person, including middle-class white boys from Brighton, needs Pride, and until a utopian time (in however many centuries) when humans are genuinely regarded as equal, I believe this will always be the case.
What qualities or ideas does Pride promote?
Growing up in Brighton, my memories of Pride are pretty mixed! However, today I would hope that the aim of Pride is to promote inclusivity; it’s a chance for all of us who’ve been othered to stand together and enjoy a sense of unity.
What was your first experience with Pride?
I’m pretty sure my Dad took me to Brighton Pride for the first time, but I would have been too young to remember properly. By the time I reached 13 or 14, Pride was an major event on the calendar. As I said before, the expression of Pride still had a long way to come (and still does) but people have definitely become a little more aware of Queer communities and of intersectionality since then.
Are you going to attend Pride this year?
Absolutely! I think it’s best to go in with no plans - see where the energy (and the drinks!) take you. The best London Pride was the year it coincided with the release of the Ab Fab movie, meaning I distinctly remember an army of Patsy/Eddie-style drag queens jumping into the pool at Shoreditch House. Hopefully this year will top that.
What are the challenges of something like Pride?
I think the challenge is regressive attitudes - from both sides - and lack of public spending on anything that matters.
What are you most looking forward to about Pride this year?
I don’t want to say ‘the afterparty’, but I’m gay, so probably the afterparty…