Pride is a time not only to celebrate the difference of LGBT+ people, but also a time for society to come together and celebrate the shared humanity that binds us all together.
For one young man at the London Pride main stage in Trafalgar Square on Saturday (July 8), the day was even more poignant than usual after his friends and family surprised him with a special message that played out to the thousands gathered under the iconic London monument.
Dean Eastmond, 21, was first diagnosed with cancer just over a year ago, and has since documented his fight against the disease in a popular online blog, as well as the queer magazine he helped to found, HISKIND.
After learning that chemotherapy would leave him infertile but that his same-sex partner would not be able to use his sperm in the event of his death, Dean has used his own experiences to fight ongoing discrimination against LGBT in the healthcare system, and was honoured with an Attitude Pride Award for his work last Friday (July 10).
The young writer and activist has been given less than a 20% chance of survival and is set to undergo another round of chemotherapy on Monday, but that didn’t stop him showing his LGBT+ pride in London over the weekend, where there was a moving surprise in store for him.
Footage captured the moment Dean heard his own name mentioned on stage as he watched acts perform in Trafalgar Square, before a video dedicated to his brave battle was played across the big screen.
The moving video featured special messages from Dean’s family, friends and colleagues, who paid tribute to his bravery, resilience, and desire to use his own experiences to improve those of others who may find themselves in similar situations further down the line.
Speaking after the inspiring moment took place, a “shocked and overwhelmed” Dean said: “When the drag queen on stage mentioned a 21 year old with cancer, my initial reaction was ‘oh wow, there’s someone here like me’. It took a while for it to click on that she was talking about me!
“The video has really shown me how important my friends are to me and (apparently) how important I am to them! I have no idea how they kept it as quiet as they did, but it was a beautiful last moment until I re-start chemotherapy.”
Mike Buonaiuto, Executive Director of Shape History, who helped to organise the video, said: “When we first heard Dean’s story we were truly touched and inspired by what he has been working on in spite of going through treatment for cancer.”
“He’s campaigned and stopped discrimination faced by LGBT people living with cancer wanting to freeze their sperm, he has launched a successful queer culture magazine across the UK for young people, and has written about his struggles going through cancer – inspiring thousands online in the process.”
“When his treatment was unsuccessful we decided as a team we had to do something – and spread Dean’s message to thousands more people in Trafalgar Square on Saturday – surprising Dean in the process. It’s our hope more people will find his work and be inspired.”
You can find out more about Attitude Pride Award winner Dean Eastmond’s story below: