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I can no longer be a proud, gay British man because of Brexit

I can no longer be a proud, gay British man because of Brexit

I am white, born in Essex, and I am privileged. Before I moved to London, three years ago, I never really felt politics affected my way of life, so I carried on like my privileges were manifold for everyone.

I was ignorant not to even consider how deeply our lives are governed by rules and boundaries.

Then 23 June happened, with Britain voting to leave the EU, and although, through my time living in London, I’d come to understand the differences between myself and immigrants – which to me sounds derogatory in itself – the full extent of what a leave vote would mean didn’t truly hit me until it had happened.

I began to ache at the belief that my soul, as an LGBTI person, had been betrayed by my ethnicity, race and privilege and I woke – along with 48.1% of the United Kingdom that voted to remain – feeling guilty of a crime against humanity we hadn’t committed.

I realized that a decision had been made for me and against my will; forcibly assimilated into an ideology I can never in good conscious condone and gifted with the fear of the suspicion that I may believe in firing culture and difference out over our borders.

For the first time I knew how humanity is compartmentalized and I couldn’t look at friends – equal in my eyes – who came to our once great country to experience its magic, numerous possibilities and vastly open culture because all I saw was the reflection of the dark part of what being British means today – and I’m powerless to change it.

I was furious – why did I deserve privileges and a sense of belonging over others?

Two days later, in light of Brexit, the LGBTI community came together for Pride in London to celebrate and to stand with the victims of Orlando. I expected a sense of deflation, defeat and despair; strength, courage and unity are what I witnessed.

After everything that has happened in the past few weeks, and in a period of reflection and unease, this community proved once again how human they are – accepting, loving and pure – and how they instinctively understand what is right and how the world should be.

But I couldn’t shake the sense of shame, all of these beautiful things going on around me were tainted and I just felt even worse about the decision the country had made. London is known as a metropolis of cultures and this is no different for its LGBTI community – how could anybody vote to make these people feel unwelcome and discarded when they are part of what makes this city, and country, great?

I admit I am bias, I live in London – one of only a few regions in England and Wales to vote remain – but I believe in enjoying living in a cosmopolitan environment and seeing one of the greatest cities in the world made great by the people here that make it shine.

Londoners and Liverpudlians, along with Scotland, understand the importance of having diversity as a part of everyday life and have a positive vision of the future for us all – as one – and these places are the template for what the United Kingdom should be: an inclusive, welcoming and multicultural harmony.

Pride, anywhere in the world in fact, is the very definition of this.

Although I’m not sure how, I hope our wounds heal and I hope my friends know my heart is hurting too. If I was given the choice I would renounce my British citizenship and join the European Union and everyone who believes in working together, not apart.

I used to think, naively, politics didn’t affect my way of life, but now I, as many, have never felt so strongly about an error in political judgement that threatens our very way of life – and that can’t be wrong.

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