Celebrating 50 years of Pride

How Bristol is making this year’s Pride one for the books

By Amber Hill

Picture it. You’re in London. It’s 1972. You’re surrounded by an estimated 2,000 people, liberated in themselves and proud of who they are; the atmosphere is truly electric. The first Pride march was a leap towards equality, acceptance and belonging, a step towards making our society more inclusive and ending the feeling of isolation and shame that many experienced.

Fast forward to 50 years later and Pride is still thriving, with festivals taking place year after year. Cities like Bath and Bristol embrace Pride festivals, benefitting both from the economic value that they bring but more importantly that essential sense of community that they generate. A typical Bristol Pride event is full of expression, from performances by local artists, comedians and even dog shows providing entertainment for the masses. Complete with a parade in legacy of the first LGBTQ+ march, it is no wonder why Bristol Pride was named in the top 50 Pride events in 2019.

However, as with the rest of the world, the UK was brought to a virtual standstill due to the Coronavirus pandemic, with restrictions putting a halt to large gatherings over the last couple of years. Last year, for instance, the festival looked rather different, with a hybrid mix of online streaming and outdoor events. This is why festival programme and partnerships director Daryn Carter is determined to make this year’s Pride bigger and better than ever before, with a strong emphasis on bringing people together.

“We’re really excited as a team to get back to planning and bringing people together”, he says. “We’ve all seen how the pandemic has disconnected us, especially for the LTBTQ+ community”.

The idea of building that community within cities is so important. Bristol can boast its reputation for being inclusive, with the Old Market being known for its inclusive nature and West Street being renowned for its abundance of gay bars and clubs. This year’s Pride is located in the Downs, home to many events and known for its relaxed atmosphere.

Daryn is keen to advertise the city as diverse, friendly, and inclusive. “We are a city that celebrates equality and champions diversity. We’re proud of that”.

Of course, for those that may be concerned over the event being cancelled due to the virus, there is a plan in place for the worst-case scenario.

“We have a plan B in mind to carry out the event for any eventuality”, Daryn assures us. No matter the situation, Pride is here to stay, providing a safe space for members of the LTBTQ+ community and refuge for those that may be unsure or questioning.

I always think about my first experience as a young 17-year-old, just coming out…there was a whole community out there and that is so powerful, so important

Daryn Carter

The finer details…

For all those interested, the event is due to run in the Downs for 2 weeks, starting from the end of June. The main event, as many call it, will take place on the 9th of July.

To find out more, click here.