We were delighted to join Community Health Champions grant holder, Stoke-on-Trent Pride as the city’s celebrations got underway in Hanley Park last weekend (18th June) – ‘Stoke’s biggest inclusive party’, open to everyone. It was a fantastic day, and the team was honoured to be involved. The day went swimmingly, packed with entertainment and fun, and VAST Volunteering said they were humbled to see just how many people were interested in volunteering.
This year’s Stoke Pride parade was a huge success – thousands were there to watch it and join in, and the views on this amazing video on Facebook just keep going up!
Pride in Stoke-on-Trent
Stoke-on-Trent Pride has quickly grown into one of the city’s biggest and most vibrant annual community festivals welcoming the LGBT+ community and everyone who values diversity in Stoke-on-Trent. Every year, thousands of people visit Hanley Park to celebrate diversity and culture, promote acceptance, challenge homophobia and transphobia, and raise awareness of the issues that affect the LGBT+ community, their friends, and their families.
LGBT+ people are more likely to be affected by mental health problems and various other health related issues. Being older and LGBT+ can present additional challenges and North Midlands Older LGBT Peoples Group aims to help address these challenges and break down the barriers that the older LGBT+ community face. At their meetings in Stoke-on-Trent, North Staffordshire, and the surrounding areas, the group creates a safe space for members to support each other. A place to share experiences, take part in social activities, and escape from isolation and feelings of loneliness frequently experienced by older LGBT+ people.
Other LGBT+ organisations in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire include:
- Staffordshire Sexual Health Charity (SSHC) provides a free confidential and non-judgemental support service around sexual health for everyone, not just the LGBT+ community. SSHC services include 1:1 and telephone support, advice, advocacy, and much more.
- LGBT Stoke is a support service created especially for the LGBT+ community in Stoke-on-Trent. Their services include Gaylife, a gay and bisexual men’s group, and Galaxy Youth Group for children aged 13-18 who identify as LGBT, and those questioning their sexuality or gender identity.
- SAGE: Sexuality and Gender Empowerment offers a range of services to empower LGBT+ people through 1:1 and group support. SAGE also provides awareness training for schools, universities, and businesses that need help developing inclusive policies and practices
- Trans-Staffordshire provides several services to support LGBT+ adults and children, as well as those who have experienced hate crime, sexual violence, or domestic abuse. They also have a group for significant others, family, friends, and allies (SOFFA) of trans people.
Fifty years of Pride
Pride month 2022 is a special Pride month as UK Pride is 50 years old. It’s been 50 years since the very first organised Pride protest march that took place in London in 1972. This march was revolutionary, empowering LGBT+ people to speak up for gay rights and to be proud of who they are and who they love. People who were previously hiding away, taught to be ashamed of their sexuality, were now speaking out against inequality and homophobia.
Pride is about acceptance, tolerance, and equality, but it’s also about education. Thankfully, LGBT+ rights have come a long way but there is always more we can do, further we can go.
Back in 2015 Amnesty International explored the five main reasons that global Prides (Pride celebrations) still matter, and these reasons are still relevant today:
- People are still attacked because of their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Prides are an opportunity to challenge homophobic and transphobic legislation.
- Rights can never be taken for granted.
- Prides contribute to changing hearts and minds.
- Prides are empowering.
You can find some interesting articles on Pride and its history here:
- BBC Newsround: 12 LGBT icons from history you should know about
- Pride Events: Coming out – what should I say or do?
- Stonewall: Take Pride – Stand up for LGBTQ+ rights
- Guardian: The people making a difference: meet the founder of the UK’s first Trans Pride
- Gay Times: The story of 50 years of Pride in the UK through 50 trailblazers
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