‘Traveller Pride: Johnny’s Story’, a beautiful short documentary depicting the journey of a young gay Traveller, has been released by Pavee Point to celebrate LGBT+ Traveller identity and advocate for the inclusion of LGBT+ Travellers in both LGBT+ and Traveller organisations.
In the video, Johnny Maughan speaks about his life as both a Traveller and a gay man. In his early years, moving from place to place meant constantly being the new kid in school, which was especially difficult because of how the other students perceived Travellers. “I was called a knacker, I was called gypsy, pikey. The words didn’t mean anything because I didn’t understand them at the time, but I knew they were angry. It’s like I upset them and I didn’t even know what I’d done.”
As time went on, his realisation of his sexuality added to the feeling of being ostracised: “I wasn’t accepted in the settled community because I was a Traveller and I wasn’t accepted in the Travelling community because I was gay. It kinda made me feel like I don’t belong anywhere.”
Johnny came out to his family when he was 20. His mother initially thought it should be kept a secret from his father, but his father’s reaction proved to be more supportive than initially expected. “There were so many things going through my head. I start crying and I said I wish I could change it. If I could change it, I would. He told me, ‘Stop crying. Stop crying, son’. He said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with you’, he said, ‘If you go around thinking there’s something wrong with you, you’re going to be a very unhappy person’…I get goosebumps now even talking about it.”
Despite his difficulties, Johnny holds no grudges against his community: “I don’t blame the Travelling community at all. At one point I was very angry with them, but it isn’t their fault because they’re following this tradition of their ancestors.”
The heartwarming video from Pavee Point aims to support LGBT+ Travellers to live authentic lives with dignity and respect, and to both educate and create awareness for the diversity of their experience. As Johnny says at the end of the video, “I’m a proud travelling man and I’m a proud gay man.”
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