Norfolk's LGBT+ community explain why Pride is important and still needed
PUBLISHED: 06:30 17 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:00 17 May 2019
It is a celebration of LGBT+ liberation and history, designed to make everyone - regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity - feel accepted.
But after plans for this year's Norwich Pride received some negative comments on social media, members of Norfolk's LGBT+ community decided to explain why Pride is important and still needed.
Earlier this month, plans were revealed for a month-long programme of events to mark Norwich Pride 2019 and while many celebrated the news, there were some negative comments - including some asking why it was needed, or why there wasn't a 'straight Pride'.
Allies and members of the LGBT+ community have now responded - giving examples such as to ensure hard-won LGBT+ rights are not eroded, because being straight has not been discriminated against and to show solidarity with those in countries where homosexuality is illegal.
Michelle Savage, chairperson of Norwich Pride, said: "People think they're having a debate but they're actually saying really offensive things, it does cause distress."
Joe Ballard, arts, education and entertainment officer for Norwich Pride, said the negative comments proved exactly why Pride was still needed.
He said: "When I saw the comments I thought crikey, some of these comments prove why we need a Pride.
"Norwich and Norfolk are very welcoming friendly places that support groups, these comments don't reasonably reflect Norwich but they do demonstrate why we need a Pride."
He added that as he had grown older he had increasingly seen the benefits of Pride, and said: "Having a Pride in Norwich and in other countries is about supporting other people around the world [who are experiencing prejudice].
"By doing pride in Norwich we are showing that there is a community out there, we're there in solidarity for others.
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"The community will organise Pride events for as long as people need them and then after that they will continue as celebrations of what we have achieved, as acts of solidarity and a reminder that no one is alone."
Feeling comfortable to hold hands in public
In 2018, Norwich Pride asked people in same sex relationships if they felt comfortable holding their partner's hand in public.
Receiving more than 200 responses in less than five hours, the straw poll found that more than 50pc of people were worried about doing so in public.
Ms Savage said the survey was "an interesting litmus test" of where things were in Norwich, and said: "If you compare [the Norwich Pride survey] to national research then in some ways we are doing well - nationally two thirds of people say they would be uncomfortable, but in Norwich it was just over half, which is still pretty astonishing.
"I know for myself that as someone who came out as a teenager in the 1990s, I'm probably more nervous than, say, someone coming out now.
"In fact, I adore seeing same sex couples holding hands in Norwich as it makes me feel that 11 years of Norwich Pride has made a difference."
- Norwich Pride will take place on Saturday, July 27, the same day as Norfolk Day. To help celebrate both events people across Norfolk are encouraged to help spread the word that our county is a place where everyone can feel safe and proud to be themselves.
To get involved or to find out more about Norfolk Day, email firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet @norfolk using #NorfolkDay or log on to the Norfolk Day Facebook group.