RGS Guildford courtyard with students

Reflection: Pride

When writing this Reflection, I wasn’t sure I would be able to convince all of you about the importance of Pride – maybe I will prove myself wrong.  But what I did know, and what I do know now, is that I can convince every one of you in this room to care about the image that this school has and the image that you all carry with you when you wear your tie.

So, how do I do that?  It’s a bit of a roundabout, but it will come together in the end, so bear with me.  Let’s start with Pride.  We ought to celebrate Pride all year round, but June is named Pride Month in remembrance of the Stonewall riots, which occurred in this month following a brutal police raid in the USA that targeted queer individuals at the Stonewall inn.  This is one of countless attacks on the queer community that we see even in our own time.  While we remember the Stonewall riots as a landmark in gaining traction for the Pride movement, it is important to remember that riots like the Dewey’s restaurant sit-in, or the Black Cat Tavern protests, which I am sure few of you have heard of, are not failures because they aren’t recognised as being just as important as others.  The fact that Stonewall has gained the most notoriety is, while commendable and amazing, not what justifies or gives worth to the action.  It is not what defines it as a success.  What gives value to trying to make change is the powerful desire of those involved to make the world better.  It is that drive to make change, regardless how small, that we can take and implement in our own lives.

I believe that when we look on any past mistake or any current problem we ought to be motivated to enact change.  In the song Pride by U2, Bono sings the lyrics “one man, he resist” – talking about resisting current norms and making change – and “they took your life they could not take your pride” – which places Pride as the power and dignity of one’s life.  The song itself is about non-violent protest and how those who fight for positive change do so with a level, not of arrogance, but of the pride one feels when fighting for the dignity of human life.  That is why we call this month Pride Month, because it is a yearly reminder that individuals can and should be proud in enacting positive change motivated by the dignity of each and every person.

Now to bring this back to home, and back to the RGS, I have a brief anecdote.  A number of weeks ago a friend of mine at a different school was involved in a group working with local authorities to tackle crime, and crime in relation to discrimination.  At one of the first meetings of those representing the youth, they felt as though private schools in the area were not as inclusive as they could be.  So in the spirit of Pride we must look back on our past mistakes and current decisions.  I know that if we want to change the name we have managed to create, as I know each one of you does, we need to start making change in our lives here at school.  We need to look upon the mistakes and problems that are unresolved and solve them: whether that is calling out discrimination; going to speak to your Head of Year or the Senior Management Team about unfair rules that should be changed or systems that should be put in place, so that everyone at this school can be supported in their flourishing as a human worth of respect and acceptance.

And so, I conclude by asking you all, if you take nothing else away from this Reflection, remember this: be kind to others, be proud to fight for others, and be motivated to enact the change you wish to see in everyone.  Thank you.

Gabriel Meadowcroft

Lower Sixth Form