The Buckinghamshire town of Milton Keynes is to hold its first ever gay pride parade.
Joint organiser, 45-year-old Jo Green told The Milton Keynes Citizen: “Our aim is to raise awareness and encourage inclusive behaviour. Milton Keynes is vibrant, young, energetic and colourful and we should be allowed to celebrate this.”
The event will take place on 11 August in Campbell Park,
Ms Green added: “We’re hoping more than 2,000 people will take part. It’s been said that one in 10 people is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. In Milton Keynes we have a population of 210,000, so that’s potentially 21,000 people.”
The event is backed by the Thames Valley Gay Police Association, the Gay Prison Officers Association, QAlliance, HQMK youth group and specialist nightclub Pink Punters.
It will be headed by openly gay MP Iain Stewart who told The Milton Keynes Citizen it was a “fantastic idea” and that he was “honoured to lead the march”.
Of LGBT life in Milton Keynes, Ms Green continued: “Although a lot of people may be out, they still seem to be hiding.”
“We want to encourage acceptance – to allow members of the LGBTQ community (the Q stands for questioning) to be who they are without feeling threatened or that it is necessary to change their behaviour because they feel awkward or stared at.
“I want to be able to go for a coffee in a cafe and hold hands with my girlfriend without having to hide my feelings away.
“More than anything I want people to come along to our first MK Pride and be proud to take part.”