Prince William recently invited a group of nine people to his home in Kensington Palace to speak about their experiences being bullied for their sexuality, as part of a feature in the British LGBT magazine Attitude.
William’s appearance on the cover of the magazine—the first time a royal has appeared in an LGBT magazine—comes just days after the mass shooting at gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida. William and Princess Kate Middleton paid their respects to victims of the attack by signing a book of condolence at the U.S. Embassy in London.
Following his meeting with young gay, lesbian and transgender individuals, William released a statement to the magazine saying, "No one should be bullied for their sexuality or any other reason and no one should have to put up with the kind of hate that these young people have endured in their lives."
The people and families he met spoke about how homophobic and transphobic bullying drastically affected their self-esteem, resulting in suicide attempts, eating disorders, mental illness and drug addiction. William praised their bravery "to speak out and to give hope to people who are going through terrible bullying right now," adding, "Their sense of strength and optimism…should give us all encouragement to stand up to bullying wherever we see it. You should be proud of the person you are and you have nothing to be ashamed of."
Attitude editor Matthew Todd says of William, "He put us all at ease despite the fact that we were talking about some intense and sometimes harrowing things.” "I was completely bowled over by him," he added. "He was absolutely passionate, compassionate and relaxed. Someone got upset during the conversation and he said, 'It's okay to cry. You can cry and be strong.'"
This meeting is part of Prince William's campaign with Kate and Prince Harry called "Heads Together," which promotes mental health and well-being. William's spokesperson said in a statement, "The Duke of Cambridge is working hard to support the fight against bullying and to help break the stigma around mental health."
"He knows that LGBT young people suffer unacceptably high rates of bullying and he was grateful to Attitude for facilitating such a serious conversation on this topic," his spokesperson continued. "He was moved by the stories he heard and impressed by the positivity and courage of the people he met.”
Now more than ever, the international LGBTQIA+ community needs more allies willing to stand up against homophobic and transphobic behavior. We're glad Prince William is using his platform to raise awareness of this serious issue in the wake of recent events.