Image Credit: Joseph Silke
York's annual LGBTQ Pride parade took place last Saturday, starting off at the Minster and ending at Knavesmire for the accompanying festival. The festival in question was headlined by Pop Idol runner up, Gareth Gates, and Zimbabwean performer, Rozalla.
Over 2000 people gathered at the Minster for the 11:30 am kick off, with major companies, such as Aviva (the official sponsor), Coop, and LNER, alongside various LGBTQ and political groups, all of whom proudly showed their support for the cause. The parade also featured an impressive delegation from The University of York, with dozens of students and staff present to show their support. The parade was headed by 25 local schools and colleges, with over 1000 teachers and students there to join in the celebration. Following the increasing coverage and criticism of LGBTQ inclusive education in schools over the past year, this was perhaps the best way to show support for the community while also disregarding the criticism of LGBTQ teaching in schools, showing that York as a community is determined to show their support for equality, despite criticism from the media.
As usual, North Yorkshire Fire Brigade and Police Department also joined the festivities. A representative from the Police Department told Nouse about the significance of the police force’s involvement in the parade, stating that it is to simply “demonstrate support for local LGBT people”, while also being “individually supportive to the those on the force to be themselves at work.” He also informed us of their new campaign called “LGBT Allies” which will help police officers be themselves and express their sexuality within the force and in their daily working life.
What was clear on the day was the range support of people from various age groups, especially the young. Many have criticised parents for the involvement of children at Pride events, as some believe that it may have an effect on their sexuality. Speaking with a parent who brought his child along to celebrate, he seemed outraged at the notion of this criticism, stating: “Pride is not sex education, but instead education on respect and equality.” He said “the idea that children shouldn’t come to Pride, supports the idea of homosexuality being a disease, and that is not what I want to teach my kids.”
The support of the older generation was also noted, as well as the inclusion of Christian groups within the parade, and the presentation of Pride flags on churches on the way to the festival. The clear support of groups that are criticised for usually being anti-LGBTQ is testament to York’s inclusive and diverse nature.
University staff also made an appearance at the Parade, carrying a banner (above) to show their support for the cause. When asked to comment on the appearance of York staff and students at the Pride parade, a spokesperson for the University said: “we are committed to promoting diversity and equality on campus and creating a positive environment which is fair, welcoming and inclusive.” The University also flew flags from masts across campus to show their support for the LGBTQ community, including above the Psychology building and in the central location at Greg’s Place.
The day was plagued with persistent and heavy rain throughout but despite this, festivities and the high spirit of the crowd endured. In the words of the police representative: “I don’t think the rain has dampened the event at all”. This outlook carried on for the rest of the day, but other fellow supporters were nonetheless extremely optimistic, stating that it was “great to see the rain hasn’t stopped people from celebrating.” The fact that most of the supporters stayed out and did not falter in their festivities is tribute to the ongoing and determined energy of the LGBTQ community.
The Pride festival itself was lively, and well-attended, from the main stage to the numerous stalls. Union President James Durcan commented: “One of YUSU’s core values is inclusivity, and we are strong supporters of the LGBTQ+ community, and are proud to be involved with York Pride 2019. Our LGBTQ+ forum will be marching with the University in the parade, and we worked with the University to raise the rainbow flag on-campus. It’s a great event for everyone and we hope everyone had a great time!”