It’s been a real disappointment for many in the LGBTQ+ community that many Pride events planned over this summer have had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a particular disappointment for the organisers of Malvern Pride who were looking to build on their first ever Pride last year.
In organising Malvern Pride, the committee reached out to the local community, various businesses and the local Town and District Council for support and was massively overwhelmed with the good will. Pride Flags were flown throughout the town leading up to the event and it was clear from the outset there was a clear community spirit to the event. I spoke to Betty Rose, Chair of Malvern Pride, about the day, the importance of holding Pride events in smaller towns and what’s next for the event.
Everyone that I knew that attended Malvern Pride last year was massively impressed with the event. Please just explain briefly what sort of events happened in the run up to and on the day of Malvern Pride?
That’s so lovely to hear, thank you! We couldn’t have done Malvern Pride without all the fundraisers running up to it. They not only helped us raise money to pay for entertainers, DJ, sound, licences etc. but they helped spread the word and bring people together. Fundraisers such as Pets for Pride with WARS (Worcester Animal Rescue Shelter) coffee morning with the Malvern Buddhists, Food and a Film with The Malvern Cube, Open Mic at the Malvern Lounge – really fun events that were also essential for attracting volunteers.
Being a smaller town some would presume a Pride event in Malvern may have faced some opposition. Was there much visible opposition or hostility towards the organising committee or the event itself?
I’ve lived in Malvern all my life (nearly 23 years when we first started Malvern Pride) so I felt some trepidation, but I was genuinely so shocked and moved when we only received support. Maybe a few grumbles, but never to our faces, and we were overwhelmed with offerings of support whether that be sponsorship, donations, stalls, equipment, gazebos, even chairs! And so many messages saying thank you, and multiple cases of people saying they left Malvern because they didn’t feel accepted, but they came back to attend Malvern Pride!
It must have been a real disappointment to suspend Malvern Pride this year due to COVID-19. Are there any plans to pout any virtual events in its place or is all focus going on making Malvern Pride 2021 even better?
All of the focus is on making Malvern Pride 2021 even better!
How important is it that Pride events educate the communities they take place in with regards to the LGBTQ+ community and what sort of educational events did Malvern Pride put on?
Essential. Pride events are a fun day of celebration of course, but fundamentally they are an opportunity for learning and change. Pride’s origin was a riot, a protest, for a better more accepting world, and all modern Pride’s should have that at their core. We made sure there were flags representing many members of the LGBT+ community all across the event, and we had a stall run by Mermaids, a trans children focused group, as well as local Worcestershire LGBT+ group Out2gether running a stall and educational activities . We also had talks running throughout the day including one on local LGBT+ writer, Radclyfe Hall, also run by Out2gether. For 2021 we have plans for even more activities and talks in this theme.
Where do you see Pride in Malvern going in the future and what do you hope to bring about because of the event?
I feel it’s important it stay a family friendly event, a picnic in the park affair, as there are different prides for different people – we probably won’t ever be on Birmingham Pride’s scale! But we’d love to involve even more of the community, such as schools running up to the event to get the local youth involved, and organise fundraisers throughout the year so the Malvern LGBT+ community feels connected all year round, though Out2gether, Out2geth LGBT+ Youth, Mermaids do a superb job already and we certainly look forwarding to working with them more.
What would your advice be to anyone who lives in a town like Malvern where there are currently no Pride events?
Ask yourself if you and/or someone you know could get one started. And remember, it really doesn’t have to be like a big city Pride, it can be a smaller affair that reflects the heart of your town. I feel the smaller towns really need Pride the most and is a beautiful thing to do for your local community.