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Sheffield Pride: “This is about resistance and protest.”

Words: Heather Paterson

For many here and around the world there is still much to fight for and Pride plays an important part in those campaigns to celebrate what we have achieved so far, but also to highlight the many issues we still face. This month, we met up with the team behind Pride in Sheffield – Rosie, Sairy, Emma and Ashleigh – to talk about this year’s event.

What does Pride mean to you and why is it still important?

Sairy: Pride represents a rich history of our continuing struggle to gain acceptance and be able to live life openly. Ashleigh: Yes, Pride for me is about resistance and protest. Emma: We are seeing so much hostility towards LGBT+ people at the moment, especially towards trans people, and Pride is a time we can come together to stand against that. Rosie: We are seeing big rises in hate crime at the moment, so it’s important to be able to come together and be proud of who we are.

Why did you get involved in this year’s event?

Rosie: After last year’s committee stood down there wasn’t going to be an event this year unless people came forward to organise one. Emma: Yes, Pride is something lots of people still care about and we wanted to make sure it happened.

What are your key focuses this year?

Emma: From the open meetings and discussions we have had with people there were strong feelings about wanting a community-focussed event that created a space to connect and unify people, which was something we really wanted to achieve. Rosie: And we’ve done a lot to achieve that, like giving free community stalls. We wanted to create a more inclusive event, especially for trans folk. Ashleigh: It’s also been really important for us to try and make the event as accessible as possible for everyone, so things like giving the option for anyone with mobility impairments to march at the front of the parade if they choose to so they set the pace of the march and people don’t get left behind or struggle to keep up.

What has gone well for you so far?

Rosie: It’s been great to have such a big committee and regular open meetings, so we have been able to get input from a lot of people. There’s been lots of support from the local community. Sairy: Having a diverse committee with trans and BAMER reps. Historically, a lot of Prides have been almost entirely run by white gay men so it’s good to have a committee where women, trans and BAMER people are represented. Emma: We have so many groups taking part with both Stonewall and Mermaids attending for the first time this year. Ashleigh: We’ve been able to work with so many people already, both through our open meetings and lots of fundraisers and outreach events. We’ve had a lot of support from people and organisations and the venues who have hosted us.

What have been the biggest challenges faced?

Sairy: It’s a huge task, and people often don’t realise that it’s entirely volunteer-led and that we all have day jobs. Everyone has different views of what Pride should look like, which is why we have felt it was important to have open meetings and get as many views as possible.

What can we expect at the main event?

Sairy: The full line-ups are being announced on our website and social media as we lead up to the event, but we have a main stage with acts including international recording artist ACstyle and returning favourite Smashby, a drag tent featuring Sheffield’s own Half Montys and Funky Beavers and a community tent with a range of talks and workshops from local and national LGBT groups.

How can people get involved?

Emma: Our last open meeting for this year’s event is on 2 July, so people can come to that. We have volunteer opportunities for anyone wanting to help out on the day and for anyone who would like to get involved in running next year’s festival there will be elections just after this year’s event.

Pride in Sheffield takes place on Saturday 27 July. The Pride March will set off at 12pm (assemble from 11:30am) from Pear Street down Ecclesall Road before reaching Endcliffe Park, where the main festival takes place. At the time of writing the committee were remaining tight-lipped about their official afterparty announcement, but check out their website for details of where you can party into the night.

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