The Duke of Cambridge today visited the Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT) in London, a dedicated LGBTQ+ charity that supports homeless young people, who identify as LGBTQ+ (this term stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer and other members of the Rainbow Community). He was very open in saying that he would support any of his children, if they identified as gay, or part of the community.
Prince William’s visit was visiting the organisation’s new headquarters in Hoxton, London, ahead of the annual Pride in London next weekend, and to mark 50 years since the Stonewall uprising. It is often considered that the riots – caused after the police raided a gay club in New York – started the international gay rights movement.
The visit ties in to his work as patron of the homelessness charities Centrepoint and The Passage. But William has been vocal in his support of the community, and was voted ‘celebrity straight ally‘ of the year in 2017.
Prince William took part in a group discussion with AKT ambassadors, who have previously been supported by the charity and now mentor others in a similar situation.
Almost 1/4 of the 150,000 young people facing or experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ, and 77% of those say rejection or abuse from their families was a key factor in them being homeless.
One young gay man, who asked not to be identified, asked the future King: “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.”
“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.”
Another at the session, 28-year-old Faz Bukhari, 28, asked similar questions. Faz experienced problems at home four years ago, when he began to identify as transgender, and left the family. He asked: “You coming here is a great opportunity and platform, what would you think about it if one your children was LGBT?”
The Royal replied: “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.”
Faz was pleased by the response; he told the press: “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.”
Of course, mental health is of great interest to the Prince, which is tied in to LGBTQ+ issues. “It’s a real pressure to live under,” the Duke said to 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.”
Bridie Honour, 22, from Newcastle, spoke about this connection Bridie identifies as non-binary, and is currently in a relationship with a woman. “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.”
The royal visitor shook his head: “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.” He also commented on the recent attack on a lesbian couple on a bus in London; “I was really appalled by that attack. That stuff like that still happens.”
The Duke also joked about his Attitude magazine cover in 2016, where he voiced his support for the LGBTQ+ community. “I’d seen some of the previous front covers and I was a bit nervous about what they might ask me to do,” William said. “Thankfully there were no small briefs for me!”
The Duke of Cambridge also unveiled a plaque to mark his visit, with which Tim Sigsworth, the charity’s chief executive, was very pleased. He said the comments made by William would make a ‘massive difference’ and would convey ‘a message that we need to support, and empower LGBT people’.