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The history of pride started with the Stonewall Riots on 28th June 1969, where patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back against police oppression in a riot that lasted 6 days.
The aftermath led to gay liberation movements forming and battling for LGBT rights. A year after the riots, the Christopher Street Liberation Day (street where the stonewall inn is located) was established as an annual demonstration to act as a reminder of the gay rights struggle and commemoration of the riots, LGBT organisations in other cities were encouraged to hold parallel demonstrations as a nationwide show of support – this is why June is Pride month in America. The events in America led to LGBT activists in other countries forming groups, in the UK the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) formed in 1970 and held the UK’s first “Gay Pride” march on 1st July 1972 (nearest Saturday to the anniversary of the Stonewall riots). The march aimed to show the LGBT people were proud, not ashamed to be themselves and come out of the shadows to make themselves visible, to stand up for their rights and demand LGBT liberation. Brighton followed suit with a pride March in 1973, but then didn’t hold another one until May 1991 when protesting the introduction of ‘section 28’ (government clause outlawing the “promotion of homosexuality”). Manchester Pride were born out of fundraising for AIDS organisations, with an August Bank Holiday event in 1985 known as the Manchester Gay Pub & Club Olympics. Since the establishment of these 3 prides, other towns and cities have established their own pride events which they aim to hold around these months. This is why the UK pride calendar spreads from May – September giving us a pride season.
WHAT DOES PRIDE MEAN TODAY?
For the LGBTI+ community pride is a time to come together, be visible and celebrate how far our rights movement has come. It signifies acceptance, community and the safety in numbers to freely express our self which is a hugely liberating experience, especially when daily life can consist of hiding parts of our life & not being able to take things like holding a partner’s hand in public for granted. What pride represents and means can vary for individuals based on their personal experiences, as some of our PiPPers’ have been happy to share…
Rhian Lovell - Deputy Probation Delivery Unit Head, Swansea Neath & Port Talbot
For me it is simple, Pride is about people in the LGBTQ community to show pride in their identity. Pride has developed a whole new meaning to me since becoming a mum, because not only is it celebrating my own identity, but also showing my children a safe space where they can celebrate being part of the LGBTQ community. It always saddens me when each year I see and hear people saying why do we still need pride, if there isn’t a straight march, because pride events are vital spaces for the LGBTQ community to voice their pride, and when you see incidents of homophobic abuse, you realise why we still need pride even in 2021.
Suze Roberts – PiPP Local Lead HMYOI Deerbolt
For me pride is a new thing in my world. My teenage daughter has just come out and we as a family are embracing LGBT, and Pride is something that we are looking forward to learning about. For children these days who are LGBT it is so much easier for them to walk forwards and in the footsteps of those who have paved the way for equal rights and a brighter diverse society. It has been a rough and rocky journey for so many over the years and what Pride means these days is a huge celebration of all that has been gained and overcome for so many. For me, my daughter has had a really positive experience so far and has confidently identified who she is and what it means to her. I wanted to reach out to the LGBT community in the prison service as an ally and supporter and be a part of the pride experience. I can imagine a few years ago the prison service for LGBT would have been a secretive place to hide to avoid any prejudice and hatred, as in all other areas of society. Today I see such a diverse and inclusive place for prisoners, staff and families of everyone. I am proud to fly the flag here at Deerbolt and be a part of such a great entity, both professionally and outside the gate I personally am looking forward to celebrating Pride and all it stands for.
Amy Froggatt – PiPP Midlands Prisons Area Lead
Pride means that I am allowed to be proud of who I am. It means that it is a time to celebrate how far the UK have come with acceptance for the LGBTI community with the 100’s of pride events that occur throughout the country every year. Pride is so important for me to know that it is ok to be different and there are so many others who feel the same. The best experience was Leeds Pride in 2018. I was stood amongst a group of 50-70 others, holding my wife’s hand, part of the immense parade throughout the whole of Leeds whilst wearing HMP Uniform and representing HMPPS and PIPP. A brass band playing behind us and so many cheers and claps. The feeling of contentment to be a part of an accepting community. To have colleagues around me who felt the same and to hold my wife’s hand and not be judged. It was surreal. But that day I felt so proud to just be me, Amy
Andy Ritchie, HMP Risley Equalities Manager, PiPP Local Lead and MoJ D&I award winner 2020.
Being a seasoned summer Pride attendee since the mid-1990’s (showing my age there!) I have many brilliant memories of supporting these causes at summer events held at various towns and cities across the country. However, the ONE event that sticks in my mind (and will for a long time) was my role as NW prisons area lead for PiPP and winning the “Best Public Sector Parade Award” at the 2018 Manchester Pride event. The theme that year was “The Circus of Acceptance” and the 50-odd HMPPS staff and allies really DID stand out from all the other attendees on that glorious summer’s afternoon with our colourful circus themed costumes and pictures made in great detail by various NW prisoners with the support of NOVUS and the POA. This really was a defining moment in championing LGBT rights with my probation partner in crime Nat, HMPPS, PiPP, NOVUS and POA.
Gwen Lloyd-Jones – PiPP Deputy National Lead & North East & Yorkshire Area Lead
Pride means everything to me. In my younger years I saw it as an opportunity to party and be a bit wild. As I have matured (hmmm) and became involved with PiPP I became to understand the importance of pride to our LGBTI+ community and how it is a political driving force. Being able to march proudly with my HMPPS colleagues has changed my attitude towards pride and the importance of it. It is now a place where I can be myself and where I can safely hold my partner’s hand without fear of any repercussions and wave the PiPP banner proudly and make it clear that LGBTI+ people are welcome within HMPPS and that there is place for them, just like I found my place.
Andy Holmes – PiPP Local Lead HMP Stafford
My feelings around this time of year are always mixed. Firstly there is always a sense of looking forward to what’s coming. Usually there’s the joy of catching up with old friends and colleagues, watching a march, going to an event or simply having a pint or two and catching up. This of course has been difficult recently and the Pride events at Birmingham and Manchester that I have attended previously and PiPP conferences, just haven’t happened because of the the pandemic. I attended my first Pride event in 2007 with a relative, since then I have attended many similar events and I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every event and more often than not met people who have gone on to become good friends.
However, throughout all of those times, be they Pride events, Local, Regional or National meeting or conferences there was always a niggling annoyance at the back of my mind that never went away and maybe never will. The unanswered question was, “Why are we STILL having to do this?”. Pride month is pretty much what it says on the tin. A celebration for LGBTI+ people and those like myself from the heterosexual community to come together and show unequivocal support and a shameless Pride in all things LGBTI+. It is a time to hold out a hand of friendship to our brothers and sisters and say “I stand with you “.
The very fabric of a society is freedom of existence. Or at least it should be. Whether that difference from others is based on religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender, it should not be important, however the continued need for Pride month is proof that the problems remain.
The question put so eloquently by Monty Python in film The meaning of life asks, “Why are we here, what's life all about?”. This question is as old as time itself and people far more intelligent than me have their own answers. For me I didn’t realise my answer until I became a dad. I have three children and my own take on the question is quite simple.
My job is to make their lives better, to ensure they don’t make the mistakes I did and to try to help them have a brilliant future. In 2018 I was honoured beyond all measure to be named Stonewall Ally of the Year. In my acceptance speech (Along with a couple of choice words which I really shouldn’t have said, sorry) I said that “They are the reason I do what I do, because I want my children to grow up in a World , which is perfect , without anything against them and they can be who they are without hatred against them because of what they are”.
This is the core of Pride month and why it is so important for all of us, no matter who we are to support it. I have over the years been subjected to a lot of comment over my support of the LGBTI+ community. From good natured leg pulling from friends and colleagues to downright hatred and threats from complete strangers on social media. So, when the latter still continues there is a need for Pride and a need for all of us to hold out the hand of friendship to each and every person out there who is maybe a little different from our selves. If the events of the last 18 months have taught us one thing, it is we can all overcome adversity and we can all adapt when the tough times come. So, this Pride month I ask each of you to show your support, raise a glass and shake a hand of our brothers and sisters who still fight on a daily basis for what should be theirs already. Acceptance and respect.
In the end what it comes down to is that we are fighting for each other.
Representing over 30,000 Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers, the POA is the largest UK Union in this sector, able to trace its roots back more than 100 years.