Claire Udy is the first ever LGBT Officer for Portsmouth Labour. She’s sought to help with Portsmouth Pride but she hit a snag as it’s happening later in the year. However, as we are in the middle of Pride Week worldwide, Claire uncovers a new and exciting series of fringe events that have appeared almost overnight and are happening right now.
The event Pride In Portsmouth has been delayed until September as the team seek to raise funds to run it, after returning two years ago. As the city had not had a Pride event for more than 10 years, its absence during the summer has been to the upset of many in Portsmouth.
Step in Donna Carter, Samo White and their great team of fabulous queers, a group of local business people who just couldn’t sit down and let a year pass without celebrating everything that’s wonderful about the Portsmouth LGBTQ community. After starting up the Southsea Safe Space Initiative, where businesses now proudly display they are a safe space for all people regardless of their gender and their sexuality, and holding Portsmouth’s first ever Queer Disco earlier this year (which was a sell-out), they’ve decided to take matters in to their own hands and make their own version. This week, different fringe events have been coming out of the gallery of Highland Road’s own creative hub Playdead.
Already as we move into Thursday on this week of festivities, previous events including a Transgender Q + A, Coming Out stories and Sexual Health Awareness day have been well attended. Today, expect to see a creative workshop at Playdead, and on Friday there will be a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at 7pm following a Queer Kids workshop where parents and children can chat and get advice in a relaxed environment.
Transgender Pride is an important part of the series of events this year, and Queer Kids is desperately needed all over the country considering referrals to the NHS regarding gender identity in children have gone up 1000% since 2010. On Saturday, Pride Week draws to a close but not without a walk from Playdead (meeting at 11am) through Southsea and onto the Common for a BBQ. In the evening, the second ever Queer Disco will be taking place at Coastguard Studios.
Pride is very much something that should be celebrated year after year. To miss out this year’s main march has been somewhat of a blow to the local community and in all honesty, takes us all back a step. However, for two of the curators of the new Pride, Donna and Josh Daniel, the vision goes further than just marching for one day a year.
Pride is about celebrating diversity in the community and making sure solidarity is shown day in, day out. As the curators look forward they seek to open a Queer inclusive venue, a creative café, book and film library and performance space open to all. As a resident of Southsea, I’ve seen the creative scene absolutely thrive in the last ten years and a true safe space is the addition I’ve wanted the most. Being LGBTQ isn’t just about celebrating your worth in Brighton or Soho once in a while, it’s about breaking out and making it known that diversity is for celebrating and it’s happening here.
Here’s why Pride is important to me.
I was about 13 when I realised I appreciated the look of other girls as well as boys, and it just made my life almost unbearable. I was bullied of a result of a private conversation between friends in senior school (which never turns out to be private when you are at school), which was relayed to one person after the other and I was called every single stupid homophobic insult going. Still I didn’t get it as bad as a friend who was openly gay, and was beaten in the playground at school purely for being so.
Fast forward to now after some great times with great people I’m married with children. I am deeply in love with my husband but I’m proud to say I’m 100% queer. I don’t fit into a label and as I felt like one of those shamed bisexuals who weren’t just ‘gay enough’ to fit in, queer encapsulates all the labels that fall into the LGBTQ remit and throws them out of the window. You don’t have to conform to specific sexuality or heteronormative gender, you can just be you. The best thing about the brilliant LGBTQ community here in Portsmouth is the fact they are so welcoming and just by existing they have helped me unleash my inner charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent.
To read up on more of the events this weekend give Playdead Studios a follow on Facebook, where you’ll find all the details, and please remember that you don’t have to identify as LGBTQ to join in as the community welcomes all.
All images by Donna Carter.
UPDATE: This article was edited on 28th June 2017 as we had incorrectly stated that Pride was not going ahead this year. In April 2017, Pride in Portsmouth released the following statement:
***Main Event Update***
Just to clear up any confusion about Portsmouth Pride 2017. We are working on a Main Event this year. We are aiming for a date in September 2017.
The Team are currently working on a number of fundraisers event to ensure that we can have a pride this year.
We are looking to take it back to a smaller event, so that it will be free to attend. If you can support our fundraising efforts then we can have another great Portsmouth Pride
Follow the latest news about Portsmouth Pride over at their Facebook page and dont’ forget to support their upcoming fundraiser – Portsmouth’s Drag Superstar.