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It's officially Pride season! And here at Matalan, we're proud to support diversity, inclusion and being proud of who you are. We asked some LGBTQ+ influencers and some of our lovely staff what Pride means to them and how they celebrate. Plus the fabulous illustrator, @domandink gives some tips on how to do Pride from home this year and you can shop the influencer looks at the bottom of this page.

Danielle Vanier, @daniellevanier

Although this is by no means my first celebration of Pride, this is the first year where I’ve found the courage to live my whole truth. In preceding years I have been a firm ally of the Pride movement, but this year my voice emanates on a more personal level. Recently coming out as queer has not only been a personally liberating experience but it has also encouraged me to educate myself further on the history of Pride and the need to examine the prejudices within our own community.

Transphobia, racism and other forms of non-inclusion still exist in LGBTQ+ spaces, which is why this year it is more important than ever for me to donate, learn about and work with charities who strive to ensure that nobody is left behind to experience oppression, especially from those who claim to be allies. Supporting @aktcharity, a charity that works with homeless and disadvantaged LGBTQ+ young people, was an absolute no-brainer and I am proud to be working with Matalan on this campaign.

This year I am going to be spending Pride at home, in my support bubble with my first ever (and hopefully last) girlfriend. I have never experienced love quite like this. I think it’s the first healthy relationship I have ever been in and I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am.

Wishing you all, a very happy pride!

@daniellevanier

Danielle Vanier, @daniellevanier

Although this is by no means my first celebration of Pride, this is the first year where I’ve found the courage to live my whole truth. In preceding years I have been a firm ally of the Pride movement, but this year my voice emanates on a more personal level. Recently coming out as queer has not only been a personally liberating experience but it has also encouraged me to educate myself further on the history of Pride and the need to examine the prejudices within our own community.

Transphobia, racism and other forms of non-inclusion still exist in LGBTQ+ spaces, which is why this year it is more important than ever for me to donate, learn about and work with charities who strive to ensure that nobody is left behind to experience oppression, especially from those who claim to be allies. Supporting @aktcharity, a charity that works with homeless and disadvantaged LGBTQ+ young people, was an absolute no-brainer and I am proud to be working with Matalan on this campaign.

This year I am going to be spending Pride at home, in my support bubble with my first ever (and hopefully last) girlfriend. I have never experienced love quite like this. I think it’s the first healthy relationship I have ever been in and I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am.

Wishing you all, a very happy pride!

@daniellevanier

Tom Cox, @unlikelydad

When I was younger I had no idea if I wanted to be a dad or not. It wasn’t even on my radar until I was around 28/29. When it was time and we felt ‘ready’ (pah!!) we started the adoption process. And I didn’t even realise that if it were 13 years earlier then it wouldn’t have been possible.

This Pride month I’m really taking the time to learn about the trailblazers who made our life as a family possible. Those who fought for equality. Same sex marriage. Same sex parenting. Because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to so freely make a decision to become a dad. That’s what Pride is all about for me.

@unlikelydad

Tom Cox, @unlikelydad

When I was younger I had no idea if I wanted to be a dad or not. It wasn’t even on my radar until I was around 28/29. When it was time and we felt ‘ready’ (pah!!) we started the adoption process. And I didn’t even realise that if it were 13 years earlier then it wouldn’t have been possible.

This Pride month I’m really taking the time to learn about the trailblazers who made our life as a family possible. Those who fought for equality. Same sex marriage. Same sex parenting. Because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to so freely make a decision to become a dad. That’s what Pride is all about for me.

@unlikelydad

Aaron Hickton, VM Manager

Pride to me is appreciating and showing respect for all the struggles generations before me had to fight, for me to be able to live in a world where my family is accepted as ‘normal’. I’ve been very fortunate to have a loving family and friends that have always supported me, not everyone is so lucky.

I feel more accepted as the years pass, yet I still face homophobia and discrimination in everyday life, partly I just accept this, ignore it, or put it down to ignorance. This is why Pride is so important - it’s not only a great celebration bringing people together, but also so important to show support to our community who are battling acceptance.

Hopefully one day we will live in a world where everyone is accepted and free to live the life they choose to live without discrimination.

Aaron Hickton, VM Manager

Pride to me is appreciating and showing respect for all the struggles generations before me had to fight, for me to be able to live in a world where my family is accepted as ‘normal’. I’ve been very fortunate to have a loving family and friends that have always supported me, not everyone is so lucky.

I feel more accepted as the years pass, yet I still face homophobia and discrimination in everyday life, partly I just accept this, ignore it, or put it down to ignorance. This is why Pride is so important - it’s not only a great celebration bringing people together, but also so important to show support to our community who are battling acceptance.

Hopefully one day we will live in a world where everyone is accepted and free to live the life they choose to live without discrimination.

Abigail, General Sales Assistant

Pride means a lot to me, so much I can hardly put into words. Pride month is the one month of the year that being part of the LGBTQ+ community is celebrated all over social media and through the streets of towns and cities everywhere.

Pride month is to celebrate the stonewall riots, the riots that brought round the gay liberation movement and brought some justice to the LGBTQ+ community. Of course there is still discrimination, but Pride month makes it better as more and more people accept the community. It brings happiness in people who still might not be accepted in their own families.

This month helps me, and everyone part of this community, to feel accepted for being who they are. It’s so important knowing I’m not alone and whatever discrimination I face, I never face it alone. Pride is a beautiful celebration of life and the individuality of who we all are.

Abigail, General Sales Assistant

Pride means a lot to me, so much I can hardly put into words. Pride month is the one month of the year that being part of the LGBTQ+ community is celebrated all over social media and through the streets of towns and cities everywhere.

Pride month is to celebrate the stonewall riots, the riots that brought round the gay liberation movement and brought some justice to the LGBTQ+ community. Of course there is still discrimination, but Pride month makes it better as more and more people accept the community. It brings happiness in people who still might not be accepted in their own families.

This month helps me, and everyone part of this community, to feel accepted for being who they are. It’s so important knowing I’m not alone and whatever discrimination I face, I never face it alone. Pride is a beautiful celebration of life and the individuality of who we all are.

Ben Pechey, @benpechey

Pride is one of those magic words that is unique to each and every one of us in the LGBTQ+ community. One of the joys of my job is creating content that highlights the many different experiences in the LGBTQ+ community; our differences and personal journeys are what make it so wonderfully diverse. Pride encapsulates this and celebrates it.

Pride to me personally is a myriad of things, good and bad. Let us start with the good. Pride season highlights the incredible nature of owning who you are, and in doing that unapologetically; we have so much power. I cannot describe the difference in my own mental wellbeing, but it is monumental. Never before have I been as comfortable as I am right now and I feel like we are on the cusp of more acceptance in our society. Yet I know that in reality, that cusp is far far away, and we have so much work to do. Many members of the community, myself included, cannot walk down my local high street without people stopping and staring; hate crimes are at an all-time high, and the LGBTQ+ community take the brunt of so much abuse. So the bad, well Pride is, was and always will be a protest. Remember Pride commemorates the Stonewall Riots of June 1969, which were five days of rioting, looting, and violence. The queer community, lead by black transgender vanguards, fought back against the brutal treatment by the police. They started the fight for the rights we have in the LGBTQ+ community in 2020.

Fast-forward 51 years; we have come such a long way, but we are far away from the utopia many would have believed possible. Transgender rights are under serious threat in the UK and that is devastating for the whole community, who have worked so hard, for it to be thrown back in our faces. As recent developments in the UK and US have shown, we cannot afford to stop fighting for what is right, because if we do, things will only get worse.

As a proud non-binary person, I am undoubtedly indebted to the trans generations past, who gifted us the freedoms we have and I always take the time to pay it forwards. Creating content that educates, uplifts, and spotlights overlooked voices. Of late, however, it seems like a harder job, and outside my own echo chamber, I worry very little change is happening.

Pride is a beacon of hope for the community, but it's also an annual reminder that as far as we have come; there is so much more for us to do. We cannot afford to forget this and so Pride to me will always be a poignant reminder that we have so much more ground to cover. We need allies, we need a government that does not pander to transphobic rhetoric, and we need actual change.

@benpechey