Organisers are putting the finishing touches to next weekend’s Gloucestershire Pride.
“We are a very small Pride, when compared with the big three of London, Brighton and Manchester, but we like to think that we have a big heart and can produce a good day out for everyone, regardless of sexuality,” Paula, the organising committee’s chairperson, said in a press release.
The importance of Gloucestershire Pride, the only pride in the West Country, has been reiterated by a number of recent homophobic incidents.
At a Pride meeting, held in a bar in Gloucester in June, a man walked up to the group and passed uncomplimentary remarks, asking the chairperson: “Are you a man or a woman?” according to a press statement from the organisers.
A few weeks later, another committee member witnessed an incident in Gloucester’s Barton Street where a young gay Polish man was addressed as “batty-boy” and threatened in the street.
Gay men and women throughout Gloucestershire continue to suffer homophobic bullying, much of it going unreported, especially in rural areas were the problems are worse, with gays ‘suffering in silence.’
In most cases, victims are scared to go the police and report what is a hate crime.
Support groups like Gay-Glos and the Gloucestershire Gay & Lesbian Community, together with the Gloucestershire Police, all say that relatively few cases are reported.
Reported cases are taken seriously by the police.
Last December, a Gloucestershire gay man received an ‘anonymous’ email that denounced homosexuality as anti-Christian and told the victim they hope “… that all gays and lesbians were killed off by aids. […] I hope the lot of you die a painful death.”
Gloucestershire Police, with the help of Hampshire Police, traced the sender, and appropriate action was taken.
Pride organisers hope to create a safe and fun environment on Saturday 9th August and to touch the “hearts and minds of all local people have not yet been won over.”
Organisers hope a replay of last year’s torrential rains doesn’t spoil the outdoor events.
Pride events will include a short rally with an address from a county council cabinet member, performances from local bands, and 40 information stalls.