I think my first pride was about 2003. I grew up in a small town where I only knew two other gay people, and both were guys. Growing up I didn’t have any representation of lesbians around me. Even in 2003 the only lesbian representation I knew of were on tv shows like Bad Girls and Playing the Field. So when we first went to Pride, we went to Manchester, I was about 18 at the time, and I honestly didn’t know that that many gay people existed. Back then it just wasn’t as out there as it is today, and I was bewildered at the amount of people, and that was just in Manchester. At the time I had cut my hair short and wore clothes that made me feel a bit different but going to Pride made feel me validated by the way I dressed and felt. It made me feel more comfortable with the way I was. It was a massive point in my life for me to think ‘Yes I’m doing alright’.
Bryony Jackson-Doward is acting head of Contact Centre Operations and we asked her all about her first time at Pride.
The partying, dancing and cheesy songs are all part of going to Pride but it was also educational for me. For example, I didn’t realise that on the last night of Manchester Pride, a candle lit vigil is held to commemorate and remember all the people who have lost their lives to AIDS. It can be a very emotional part, and before I went, I just didn’t realise the tie in with AIDS and the struggle that the gay community had gone through in the 80’s. Everyone lights a candle to remember the people that went before and paved the way.
After that we went to Manchester Pride every year for about 13 years, and two years ago I went to the pride parade with BT, EE and Plusnet, which was a fantastic opportunity to get involved in.