Over the last two weekends I have attended Eastleigh and Portsmouth Pride, which were both awesome events.
It has been remarkable to see what the organisers of the two events have achieved, without mentioning that this was the first Eastleigh Pride and only the forth Pompey Pride.
Pompey was notably larger than last year, with more stalls and more people. However it was Eastleigh Pride that really blew me away. Being the first Pride in Eastleigh, I couldn't believe how well the event team had done. They had great performers throughout the day and the stalls were great too. There was an awesome array of supportive services there from; sexual health, mental health, NHS, local LGBT+ groups, groups for specific sexualities or gender identities, along with general health, transport and the LAGLOs (Lesbian and Gay Liaison Officers).
Both events were attended by a high number of young people, which I found so great. Seeing people of all ages being able to celebrate their sexuality and gender identity.
I know people that have not been accepted by family or friends, so to see so many people openly celebrating was awesome.
I do think it is important to celebrate how much has been achieved, but also to remember there is still a long way to go. Here's a few UK stats from Stonewall to prove it.
One in five LGBT people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the last 12 months
Two in five trans people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last 12 months
The number of LGB people who have experienced a hate crime or incident in the last year because of their sexual orientation has risen by 78 percent since 2013
Four in five LGBT people who have experienced a hate crime or incident didn’t report it to the police
One in ten LGBT people have experienced anti-LGBT abuse online directed towards them personally in the last month. This increases to one in four for trans people directly experiencing transphobic abuse online in the last month.
Nearly half (45 per cent) of LGBT pupils - including 64 per cent of trans pupils - are bullied for being LGBT in Britain's schools. This is down from 55 per cent of lesbian, gay and bi pupils who experienced bullying because of their sexual orientation in 2012 and 65 per cent in 2007
Half of LGBT pupils hear homophobic slurs 'frequently' or 'often' at school.
Seven in 10 LGBT pupils report that their school says that homophobic and biphobic bullying is wrong, up from half in 2012 and a quarter in 2007
However, just two in five LGBT pupils report that their schools say that transphobic bullying is wrong
Just one in five LGBT pupils have been taught about safe sex in relation to same-sex relationships
More than four in five trans young people have self-harmed, as have three in five lesbian, gay and bi young people who aren't trans
More than two in five trans young people have attempted to take their own life. as have one in five lesbian, gay and bi students who aren't trans
I am so proud of everyone that took part in the parade today (at Portsmouth). Some were there for the fun, the colour and the celebration. But I truly believe it is important to remember the parade (in particular) is about protesting the inequalities within our societies and communities (I don't know the difference, hahaha). The above stats from Stonewall show we still have a long way to go. Additionally I believe one of the banners today said being gay is still illegal in 73 countries!
It has been amazing to attend two Prides in two weeks. But it has taken its toll on my legs, especially todays attempts to quick walk in flip-flops on the stoney beach. Yep, my legs felt that. But its totally worth it. Have any of you been to London or Brighton Prides? I got talking about those events today too. I think for me I would find those events less appealing. I particularly enjoy the local community feel of these smaller Pride events. I guess my interest at the larger Prides would be more focused on the parade, the celebration and protesting.
I have heard that larger Prides sometimes just turn into a mini festival or concert, a point particularly relevant with Brighton being headlined by Britney Spears this year. Were some of the people attending just there for Britney and maybe didn't care about Pride? Who knows, but my guess would be yes. Maybe thats not a problem as it does get more people into or at least aware of the event?
For I am not so keen on this type of Pride event, Pompey had a mini festival feel about 3 years back and to be honest, I didn't like it at all. It didn't feel like a Pride event, it was just a concert.
Over the last two weeks I have had the pleasure of meeting a few of you guys at these events. At Eastleigh I saw a few people I have previously worked with and some former students from an old College. Then at Pompey Pride I saw Hannah talking all things Time to Change, Olly from my former RAPP days and I met a few of Laura's friends from 'Christians at Pride'.
I have to confess one of my lasting memories from Pompey Pride will be Olly asking Laura "if she really loved me?" with a kind of bum whipping action (similar to the Bollywood dancer below), which he followed up with "are you going to marry her?", amazing stuff.
There's been some great performances at the two Prides too, including Pompey's Drag King Coffee act (I missed the intro, so I don't know their name, sorry) and at Eastleigh the Oxfordshire Drag Collective and the Bollywood Dancers. One thing I would love to see is a published line up for the events, it would definitely help me with finding, naming and crediting performers.
Last minute thought; there was a lot of Nando's support at both events, like a lot. I was totally unaware of how much Nando's supported Prides, maybe this happened to be a two off thing, but I was impressed with their involvement.
I hugely enjoyed both Eastleigh and Pompey Pride events and I am already looking forward to next year. I would be super interested to hear about your Pride experiences, let me know over at @Mike_Douglas_
You can find additional photos on my Facebook page here.
And remember; love is love.