JUNE 26, 2019
LONDON – During a visit today to akt (Albert Kennedy Trust), a charity that helps young and homeless LBGTQ people, Prince William said it would be “absolutely fine” with him one of his children identified as LGBTQ.
The Duke of Cambridge — who is father to Prince George, 5, Princess Charlotte, 4, and Prince Louis, one — spoke when he officially opened akt’s new services center in Hoxton, east London, which began with a group chat with several young people who are currently being supported by the charity.
One young gay man, who asked not to be identified, asked William, “If your child one day in the future said ‘Oh I’m gay, oh I’m lesbian’ whatever, how would you react?”
The Duke replied: “Do you know what, I’ve been giving that some thought recently because a couple of other parents said that to me as well. I think you really don’t start thinking about that until you are a parent, and I think – obviously absolutely fine by me.”
He went on to say: “The one thing I’d be worried about is how they – particularly the roles my children fill – is how that is going to be interpreted and seen.
“So Catherine and I have been doing a lot of talking about it to make sure they were prepared. I think communication is so important with everything, in order to help understand it you’ve got to talk a lot about stuff and make sure how to support each other and how to go through the process.
“It worries me, not because of them being gay, it worries me as to how everyone else will react and perceive it and then the pressure is then on them.”
During what is thought to be the first time a member of the royal family has visited a dedicated LGBTQ organization, William also took part in a group discussion with several akt ambassadors – young people who have been supported by the charity and now mentor others using its services.
Faz Bukhari, 28, from east London, experienced problems at home from the age of 24 when he began to identify as transgender. Faz left home soon after and found support and accommodation through the charity’s Purple Door refuge scheme. He now works for a housing association in London and acts as one of akt’s ambassadors and mentors.
Echoing the earlier conversation, he asked William: “You coming here is a great opportunity and platform. What would you think about it if one your children was LGBT?”
William answered: “I’ve only started thinking about it since becoming a parent, and it is something I’m nervous about. Not of the fact if any of them were to be gay, but because of the pressures they’ll face, because of my family and the position we’re in. I’d fully support whatever they decisions they make. It worries me how many barriers, persecution and hate they’d face. But that’s for all of us to try and correct.”
During his conversation with the charity’s ambassadors, he also joked about the cover he did in 2016 for Attitude, a gay magazine in the UK. “I did my Attitiude magazine cover, which was a good day. But I’d seen some of the previous front covers, and I was a bit nervous about what they might ask me to do,” he laughed. “Thankfully there were no small briefs for me!”
After the chat, Faz said: “I thought his answer was so good, to hear him talk about having fears about what people might think of his children and how they might take to them, if they were identified as LGBT.
“That he recognises that, and is aware there could be a backlash, he understands the issues and hopefully with his comments we can get more awareness across to more parents of the issues.”
During his visit, William spoke of how “stifling” many young people find the burden of coming out to their families and also of his concerns about young LGBTQ people taking their own lives. “It’s a real pressure to live under,” he said during a conversation with Cath Hall, akt’s founder. “I’ve been looking into issues around suicide and I imagine that the figures in the LGBT community are high, because of all the barriers and stigma around acceptance.”
Another young person using akt’s services who spoke with William was Claire Evans, 26, from Newcastle, who came out to her parents as a lesbian at 16, which caused friction at home, as her parents were not initially accepting. She came across akt when she was 22, and the charity helped her deal with tensions with her parents, and later also supported her when she lost both her father to cancer in 2015 and her mother in 2017.
She told William: “It is so difficult, with family members, who aren’t always accepting and it’s hard to know where to go, so akt has been like a family to so many of us. There is often the feeling that you can’t turn to anyone, and you feel isolated.”
William asked Claire and the group: “Did some of you find it hard coming to terms with who you are? Was it daunting, worrying about society possibly judging you?”
Claire said: “It is daunting, but you try and find people who accept you for who you are.”
William also heard from Bridie Honour, 22, from Newcastle. Bridie, who identifies as nonbinary, is currently in a relationship with a woman. She went out on her own at 18 due to troubles at home, and was helped by akt and given access to supported accommodation. She now studies psychology at Teesside University.
Bridie said: “There’s a massive stigma around homelessness and LGBT, and it brings a lot of mental health issues as you come to terms with who you are. I was badly bullied at school, people told me they didn’t want to be around me. Even now, walking down the street holding my partner’s hand, I get nasty comments from older people. I’ve been spat at. akt gives you so much support with all of that.”
Shaking his head and looking angry, William said: “I’m so sad for you guys that persecution like that is still there. Things have progressed, but not nearly as much as they need to.”
William also told the group how shocked he had been by the recent bus attack on the lesbian couple in London. “I was really appalled by that attack,” he said. “That stuff like that still happens.”
William was visiting akt’s new headquarters in Hoxton ahead of the annual Pride in London parade next weekend and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.
As patron of the homelessness charities Centrepoint and The Passage, he also heard more about LGBTQ issues and youth homelessness, and the work undertaken by akt through its “prevention and early action” approach.
Courtesy/Source: Evening Standard