We’re delighted that 15-year-old Robin Jago has chosen to join us for their work experience again, and for their first ever London Pride! In this blog post, they explain what Pride means to them.

I realised I wasn’t ‘straight’ at what some may call a young age. I was 12 and it was during lockdown when I realised: I liked girls just as much as I liked boys – which, to be fair at that age, was not much at all!

Alongside this I then had the honour of being invited to write, and in turn being persuaded(!) by Darren into performing, a piece for Damn Cheek’s Valentine’s Virus Vaccine – in which a 12-year-old me made it very clear that I strongly believed love seemed pointless to me given that so many people were unable to love freely due to their sexuality. (If you’re interested, you can read the script for this below.)

Fast forward 3 years, and I’m now far more optimistic and confident regarding my sexuality and who I love, in large parts due to Pride movements and finding more spaces that are accepting of me, and others like me. 

To me, Pride is community and acceptance of one another, including celebrating our differences.

In school, my drama teacher set up an LGBTQ+ group. This gave me such a valuable opportunity to connect with others who were just like me, and the support to properly come out as trans and advocate for myself, the usage of my name, and my pronouns.

A couple of years ago, I went to the Pride picnic in my town, which had a myriad of people in attendance, all of whom were wonderfully welcoming and fabulously fascinating. That event helped me feel even less alone, knowing that there were so many people like me, even where I lived.

As I ventured further into the world, in June 2023 I had the opportunity to do a week’s work experience with Damn Cheek. Everyone in the company was so incredibly accepting and welcoming of me, my pronouns, and my presence in the company. It’s a community of real openness and acceptance, and one in which I never feel anything but very safe.

This week, I’m lucky enough to be doing work experience with Damn Cheek again. And fortunately, this year it falls in the week leading up to London Pride, which we will then be attending!

I am so very excited for my first proper Pride, especially one of such magnitude and with such history. I can’t wait to be a part of such a bright and fabulous event, surrounded by wonderful people of all different backgrounds, experiences and identities, and am grateful to be attending it with my Damn Cheek ‘family’!

Love is pointless

[From Damn Cheek’s Valentine’s Virus Vaccine in 2021.]

Love seems a bit pointless to me. It could be because I’m young and haven’t experienced the supposed “glory” of love, but it still seems pointless. See, I may be young but I still understand love. This is because from such a young age, society pushes love onto people.

A little boy sits playing with a little girl and the parents start whispering. “Look at them, they’re so cute together”

“He’s going to be a heartbreaker, I can tell”

“Her dad better keep an eye on her, all the boys will be after her”

These little children are just sat playing, clueless to the fact that society sees a wedding.

Fast forward a few years and these children are old enough to understand Valentine’s Day. The boy comes into school hiding a chocolate bar under his jacket. When no one is looking, her slips it onto the girl’s desk with a note attached that reads, “I love you, happy Valentine’s Day”.

Breaktime ends and all the children flood back into their classroom taking their seats at their desks. The little girl arrives at hers and is shocked by the sight of the chocolate bar. She examines the note carefully then grind and slides it into her bag. The boy watches from afar and smiles trying not to blush.

The little children go onto secondary school and aren’t such little children any more. One by one all their friends begin to date.

Except for them.

You see, the boy is waiting for the girl but the girl doesn’t want the boy. Any time the girl mentions any male associates, there are oohs and ahhs, teasing her and asking if she fancies him. But the girl doesn’t care much for boys, rather for a girl in her science class, with long brown hair and glasses, who spends more of the lessons with her head in the clouds. In fact, the girl is head over heels for the other and the way she randomly jots down notes or doodles in her notebook. This frightens the girl because since she was little, she was always told how she would fall in love with the boy, settle down with him and get married. Since she was little, she was also told by others how the boys would be after her and that she would eventually find the right one.

But she loves Juliet, not Romeo.

She tries to tell people but they say she is confused and that it is just a phase. She tries to tell people but is met with glares and looks of disgust. She tries to tell people but she is quick to realise that people only encourage love if it is a certain way with certain people. She tries to tell people but she is quick to realise people only encourage love if it makes others look good, or conforms to a discriminatory society.

Thousands of miles away there is a boy sobbing, trying to muffle his cries. The boy likes Romeo, not Juliet, and because of this, he now weeps at night, fearing for his own life. If anyone were to know his secret, he can only imagine the pain and damage that might be inflicted. But it isn’t just him and it isn’t just his country. In 72 countries, there are people terrified and ashamed of something out of their control. There are people silenced just for being in love.

As long as people who want to love aren’t able to love freely, and be proud of their love, then love will only seem pointless to me.