I AM an out and proud 72-year-old gay man.
But, for 23 of those years, I was a criminal just for being me. Can you imagine how that feels?
So many of the LGBT community hide away, pretending to be something they are not, suffering mental health problems, leading fake lives, feeling they can't go on.
I was put through aversion therapy, one of the most horrific experiences a person can be put through just to try and be "normal".
Now I look around and see so much happiness and I am proud that we have come so far from those dark times to be able to live in a society were people are free to be themselves and not be scared. Fifty- one years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, and I can say I am a now a Patron of Liverpool Pride, a charity run by volunteers who do so much for the LGBT+ community in this city, and I am absolutely flattered.
But Liverpool Pride does not happen with the wave of a wand from the magic Pride Fairy, it costs the charity (which receives no core funding) £175,000 to deliver one of the most fabulous and colourful events in this incredible city. So, what are you doing to help?
Did you know that the average attendee to any Pride festival donates 23p to support it? A group called "Pride Pics" which attends as many festivals each year, found this out and made a video calling for your help.
Pride cannot happen without generous donations from everyone and I see so many businesses making money off Pride - but what exactly do they do for the charity?
If they are putting on ticketed events over the Pride weekend when the main festival is free, are they giving a percentage of those ticket sales to Pride?
Selling rainbow-themed merchandise, are the proceeds going to Pride?
Pride festivals are demonstrations of equality, diversity and protesting against the poor treatment of the LGBT+ community around the world. Until everyone can walk down the street holding their partner's hand without fear of being ridiculed or beaten, there is a need for Pride.
Please get behind Liverpool Pride - donate, fundraise, give a slice of your pink pound profits to the charity, without whom those profits wouldn't exist!
And, once again, thank you to the team at Liverpool Pride for asking me to become a Patron. I am still speechless and we all know how rare that is!
Make a donation to Liverpool Pride today by heading to their website - www.liverpoolpride.co.uk
And I'll see you on Tithebarn Street on Saturday, July 28 and The Bluecoat on Sunday, July 29, at Liverpool Pride! © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services LimitedPete when he was a teenager