Organising Pride

Having been to quite a few Pride events, Grant Denkinson is now organising one and seeing things from the other side.

My first Pride was in London, 1995, marching with the bisexuals, meeting a new partner en-route and freezing on Brockwell Park on a short visit to the bisexual stall. In 1996 we celebrated the name change to “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride” which was kept for a few years despite grumbling. The highlight for me was when we had our own bi tent, jam packed full, listening to Tom Robinson and welcoming him back to Pride. When Mardi Gras took over, I looked after a stall one time, and then joined the pirates from LaDiDah on a queer mutiny free alternative.

I’ve been to others too. I got sunburned in Glasgow and watching builders’ jaws drop when they saw us march in their city for the first time. I joined a small but proud group in Dublin, where we were clearly a spectacle for many. We would be less exotic with time as we got out more. Miss Demeanour’s, by far the best LGBT Morris side in UK, went down well in Brighton as I helped carry the banner.

I liked the community feel of Leicester Pride and how inclusive it tried to be and since I’d just moved to the area I popped along to their AGM and met the organisers. I’d wanted to make more local contact and support what they were trying to do so I offered to help and became an organiser. We had an all-new committee and previous organisers, now directors, started us off with a brainstorming and training day We talked about what we wanted Pride to be and what roles each of us would take in making it happen. I took a floating role, helping out where needed. We met regularly, sometimes just checking in as we brought things together in our own areas, sometimes working together or debating points of contention. Lots and lots happened that I won’t go into just here and on 19th June Leicester Pride actually happened. Woo-hoo!

This year, I’ve intimate knowledge of the money side of things as treasurer. Leicester Pride is free to attend. That’s important to us. While all the work we do as volunteers is free, there are things we have to pay for to put on a successful event such as hiring toilets, tents and stage. We only spend what we have, we don’t borrow money or spend what we assume we will receive on the day. Being responsible so Pride has a future is also important to us.

Where does the money come from? We apply for various grants and offer sponsors marketing exposure and community goodwill. We appreciate donations from businesses, unions etc. and individuals. We get some income from stall-holders, the amount depending on whether they are commercial or community groups. Drinks sales on the day help fund the next year. Local gay and gay-friendly venues have run fund-raising nights for us. We get much help in-kind, such as Leicester YMCA giving us a well-run children’s tent. We work particularly closely with our partners. Leicester LGB centre give us much appreciated meeting space and organise a major part of Pride, the parade through the middle of town. Last year, their costume making workshops made our “Out of this world – space and beyond” theme come alive. Trade, our local gay men’s health project, organised a fantastic dance tent, playing decent dance music including top DJ Lisa Lashes and pulling in a large and appreciative crowd. They also give us office space, a telephone and more. Our partners help in many ways, big and small and we would be hard pressed to put on a event without their resources and advice.

Working within Pride has certainly opened my eyes to how many things get organised that I would otherwise take for granted. I won’t look at a community Pride event elsewhere with quite the same expectation of them, as a large looking organisation, supplying everything we want for the bi community for free. I’ve met many wonderful people and got to have my say in what I’d like from Pride for me and the communities I’m part of.

I get some sleepless nights but I can also feel like I’ve achieved something, giving to others something that others gave to me.

This year Leicester Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride will take place on 25th June 2005. Our theme is “Summer of love – peace, passion and partnerships.” Please come and join us.

If you are interested in doing bi awareness / outreach at a Pride festival rather than in running the festival itself, get in touch with BCN as we can supply some handy bi resources to distribute.