UNION

Virtual Swansea Pride

20 May 2020

Press Office

Press Office

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Last weekend saw Swansea Pride undertake its first ever virtual pride event. It was held online for the first time, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, to be both in line with the ban on mass gatherings and us wanting to protect our fantastic NHS and key workers.

I am a proud GMB activist, but I also have another hat. I am a proud Trustee for the Swansea Pride charity. The board came up with the idea of a virtual Pride following a discussion (online of course) whereby we wanted to mark the occasion and ensure that we were still supporting the LGBT+ community in difficult times by providing the people of Swansea a Pride event. No virus will stop us being there for each other and celebrating LGBT History!

Initially, I have to admit, we were very sad that Swansea Pride could not go ahead, so much work had gone in to it, from so many people, especially as we know it is such an important date in the calendar for LGBT+ people in Swansea and the surrounding areas. However, it was amazing to see lots of people willing to get behind the ‘online pride’ and sure enough, the event took place on Saturday 2 May 2020 which would have been the day of Swansea Pride if it had gone ahead in its usual format.

Pride is such an important event, particularly in these uncertain political times and when we know our rights are hard won and easily lost.

Pride is such an important event, particularly in these uncertain political times and when we know our rights are hard won and easily lost. My major concern right now is the impact of Covid-19 on people’s mental health. For the LGBT+ community this time has been especially crushing as people’s usual spaces and support networks have been affected, many LGBT+ are in homes where perhaps they cannot be ‘out’ as themselves or worse still have been rejected by their families and made homeless for being LGBT+.

Pride is a protest, but it’s a celebration of our visibility and place in the world, it’s about taking up space. Being valued, being here, being an active part of the places, we live and work. Covid-19 feels like it had shut that down for us as a community, but especially so for LGBT+ people looking for support and safety. Social distancing and lockdown, can feel like plain old isolation and loneliness if your places of support are removed.

The fact that LGBT+ people and allies come along to Pride to show solidarity with the community is so important for people’s mental health, but of course we understand why that couldn’t happen this year.

That’s why I was amazed to see thousands of people attending the Facebook event and engaging with us on Twitter! There was just so much positive feedback on what Swansea Pride was able to achieve together. From local politicians to sports teams and volunteer groups to local artists. All these people working together has been so good for morale. There was such a buzz about it!

Swansea Pride will return next year and will continue to be a pillar of support for LGBT+ people and for equality activists as a whole. However, we will never forget the loss of life and impact on communities Covid-19 had this year and what a shining little light our first online pride felt like. Thank you to everyone who came and took part and made it so special. We wish everyone the best of health and would like to take this opportunity to thank the key workers, our NHS and everyone taking steps to protect one another during this difficult time.

#StaySafe

Arron Bevan-John

Central Executive Council (CEC) Member, GMB Wales and South West Region

 
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