Plaid Cymru’s gay leader Adam Price on attempt to take own life: ‘I couldn’t find a way out’
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has opened up about his experiences of suicide as a young gay man.
Britain’s only openly LGBTQ+ political leader recalled a haunting moment walking home when he was a student in the early 1990s in which he considered taking his own life.
“I came here to Cardiff for university and even though we had a very active LGBT society there was something in me that was holding me back,” he said at the PinkNews Cardiff Summer Reception on Tuesday (14 June) evening.
“I remember literally walking home from the centre of town with my eyes closed, hoping that I’d be knocked down by a car.
“It was my suicidal depression that many of us will identify with. Because I couldn’t find a way out for myself, I couldn’t see a road to happiness. I had no role models, I was basically taught to have a deep feeling of shame.
“Until one day, finally, I decided I’m going to love myself. And today my daughter is one-year-old.
“I never imagined that I would be here today,” the father of two added, “an LGBT leader of a political party – imperfect and flawed and has got a lot of growing and learning still to do – and I’m committed to doing that.”
Adam Price is not alone. Nearly three in four LGBTQ+ people aged between 11 to 18 in Wales have experienced suicidal thoughts, according to queer youth charity Just Like Us.
Hoping to change that, in 2021 the Welsh Labour government announced an LGBTQ+ action plan with a simple aim – to become the most LGBTQ-friendly place in Europe.
Among the LGBT Action Plan’s aims, ministers hope to crowbar out of Westminster the devolved powers needed to reform the Gender Recognition Act after the British government ditched live-saving reforms altogether.
Banning “all aspects” of conversion therapy – something Boris Johnson has struggled to do – establishing a national Pride fund have also been suggested.
Officials are now rifling through responses to a consultation on the plan that ended last October.
Price called on the Senedd, Wales’ parliament, to back the LGBT Action Plan to “deliver the kind of society that we want to see”.
But he had some notes for Labour ministers. “These are great aspirations but ultimately, it’s not words and deeds, it’s about action,” he said.
He called on the government to do more to protect and open more LGBTQ+ community-owned spaces as well as offer more specialised mental health services.
“I think the truth is that we are traumatised, we’re dealing with pain. Trauma overwhelms us and many of us growing up as gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans know exactly what I mean by that,” he said.
“It stays with us long into life.”
“We can get there,” he said, adding that Wales can one day become a “beacon of hope” for the LGBTQ+ community.
“But we’ve got to be kind and support each other and hold each other to account and if we do, we will get there together.”
Welsh Tories leader says party ‘has a lot of work’ to do on LGBTQ+ rights
Price joined Welsh Conservative Party leader Andrew RT Davies and ministers Hannah Blythyn and Jeremy Miles at the National Museum in Cardiff for the reception.
All united to take a stand against the deepening torrent of transphobia highlighted by fellow speaker Shash Appan, co-founder of mutual aid group Trans Aid Cymru.
Appan delivered an impassioned and at times breathless speech condemning elected officials – the Tories in particular – for stoking a culture war around the lives of a marginalised and vulnerable demographic.
“Transphobia is essentially Tory policy,” she said. “We have been excluded from the conversion therapy ban. GRA reform was undemocratically dropped. Boris Johnson himself got on television to drop transphobic dog whistles to distract from his failings.”
“There are probably people in this room who will say they support trans people’s right to exist but will not use their power to remove transphobia in their parties, institutions and workplaces,” she added.
“We see through it. Your platitudes won’t save us. Our friends and family are dying in silence. We need action.”
Addressing Appan after taking to the stage, Davies acknowledged the Conservative Party’s woeful track record on trans rights.
“I put my hands up – our party has a lot of work to do on this. We need to make that progress,” he said.
Both Andrew RT Davies and Adam Price stressed their parties will fully support – and hold accountable – Labour’s LGBT Action Plan.
The strategy, social partnership minister Blythyn and education secretary Miles said, will offer Wales a blueprint to tear down the hurdles LGBTQ+ Welsh people have long faced. And work has already begun for it.
From September, school classrooms will begin teaching an inclusive sex and relationship curriculum, Miles said.
While Blythyn stressed the importance of the government’s proposal to inject vital funds to even the smallest Pride parades – like the one held in her hometown of Flintshire.
Blythyn revealed in April that the government has begun making preparations to introduce a trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban.
As much as politicians locked arms to bolster LGBTQ+ rights in Wales, they had choice words for neighbouring England.
“My heart breaks to see how young trans people are treated in all parts of the UK,” Miles said. “The demonisation of trans people is appalling and it too often features in our political debates certainly across the border.”
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“Trans people, we have your back,” Miles added. “We want Wales to be a nation of compassion, a nation of love.
“The progress we’ve made is fantastic and there’s a long way to go”
The reception was supported by Lewis Silkin with Trans Aid Cymru, a mutual aid group, as a community partner.
Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.