With Pride events cancelled due to COVID-19, there’s no doubt there will be an impact on the LGBTQ+ community. We chatted with Suzi Ruffell, comedian and CALM ambassador, to talk about her new podcast, Pride, and how she plans to celebrate.
From Isolated Laughs to Comedy Against Living Miserably, these utterly weird times haven’t stopped Suzi spreading the LOLs. She’s 10 episodes into her new podcast Out with Suzi Ruffell, which explores the inspiring lives of LGBTQ+ people – with guests boasting Oscars, BAFTAs, and even the title of Baroness.
“I wanted to get a diverse selection of queer people who are inspiring and hopeful in their own ways. I sometimes find there’s often some sort of tragedy linked to gay stories that are out in the media, so with this podcast – it links into the kind of comedy that I like to create which is about putting joy out there”.
You’ll also hear stories from Suzi’s listeners and followers: “I wanted there to be an element of audience participation. I wanted to celebrate the listeners too. There’ll be people listening that have never told their family, whose parents are no longer here, or who don’t have relationships with their parents. I think it’s hopeful and affirming to hear that people’s minds can be changed and they can come around in a way that you weren’t expecting them to”.
Suzi’s dedication to opening up the conversation and making LGBTQ+ voices heard extends to her participation in Pride. It’s something she feels will be keenly missed in 2020.
“I think there not being a Pride event where people know they can be themselves and celebrate and march, it will be a massive thing missing from people’s diaries. Lots of people are living in scenarios right now where they can’t be themselves. I think that must be really, really damaging, it must be really isolating and quite scary. I think it will have a massive effect on people’s mental health.
“There are countries where it’s still not okay to be gay. Pride’s about those voices that don’t get heard and being loud enough for them. It’s for people who can’t protest because it’s not safe for them to do so. That’s what makes Pride so important.”
Suzi’s Pride month is usually spent performing at gigs, getting involved with queer initiatives and events, and ‘having a few shandies’, but this year she’ll be doing things a little differently. As well as dropping in on a Zoom chat with a youth group from her hometown of Portsmouth, Suzi will also be using her other podcast Like Minded Friends to highlight Pride and inspire their audience: “Maybe this year, your way of celebrating Pride could be a night in watching a queer film with the person you love or a Zoom party with friends. Or maybe it’s treating yourself to a couple of books about different things”.
“I think, for me, this year Pride will be a bit more of a quiet reflection on the steps we’ve taken forward, the steps we need to continue to take in order for everyone to have equality, and how I can be useful and lend my voice in the most supportive way. ”
Her final words of advice?
“Pride will be huge next year. Hold on and remember that this [lockdown] won’t last forever. This is just a very strange diversion in the road. If you are a person that is living in a scenario where you don’t feel you can be yourself, or if things get so bad you can’t cope, reach out. There’s CALM, and then there’s the work that charities like AKT formerly known as the Albert Kennedy Trust do. There’s ways around it, so if you do feel like you can’t be where you are, try talking out to them.”
Need support? Worried about someone? CALM’s helpline and webchat are open daily 5pm-midnight. Find support here.
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