Bradley Birkholz (BA 2017) is an LGBT+ creator, activist, and performer – and as Pride Cymru comes to Cardiff (24-26 August), he tells us of his personal journey.
My name is Bradley and I grew up in a small town near the coast of California.
In early life, I was deeply closeted. In a rural community quite opposed to any identity other than the heteronormative (man and wife, making a family one) my experience of being LGBT+ was rather negative; embroiled in internalised homophobia and attempts at convincing myself that I might somehow be or become straight.
Cardiff has been a safe place for me. Before choosing it as a place to study, I hadn’t heard much about the city – but I have Welsh heritage and had visited Wales before, so I was excited to choose it as the locale for my academic life.
I’m so glad it’s where I ended up, and not at all surprised to find I loved it enough to stay.
As I explain in a recent BBC Sesh video, I didn’t feel I had any choice about how to come out. I thought that my family would react poorly, and they did. Having time and distance was really helpful in that painful period, and I’m immensely grateful to the local community and especially the LGBT+ society at Cardiff (CU Pride) for their support.
Cardiff has also seen me follow my passions. I’ve always loved to write, hence why I studied English Literature. Starting a blog seemed like a natural extension of my creative tendencies, and it was also where I first came out to friends and family. Eventually I started watching other LGBT+ creators online and was inspired to start sharing my story more publicly on YouTube as well.
I tend to call myself a creator and performer (I have a drag queen alter ego named Bella Tempus, which means good time) but I’m an activist first. My ambition is to facilitate change and connect with people whilst doing it and I want people to know that there’s a community out there to support you in living as your most authentic self.
Coming out, and even attending a Pride event, can be enormously intimidating to those in the closet, questioning, or to those who are out but aren’t sure if or where they belong. If anyone reading this is wondering whether it’s for them, I want to assure you that Pride is a place for everyone regardless of background or identity.
For me, an event like this is about celebrating our shared identity – but even more importantly, it’s about the roots of our movement: fighting for holistic equality for every member of our broad and diverse community.
Pride Cymru was my first ever pride. I’m thrilled to be attending for the 3rd time this year and I hope to see you there. Let’s spread the love, celebrate fiercely, and keep on fighting. Pride Cymru Hapus!