This year’s Chesterfield Pride was the biggest and best yet, with over 4,000 people estimated to have attended the event at Stand Road this year, making it one of the fastest growing Pride events in the country. If you were lucky enough to be there you would have enjoyed music, games, stalls and a real sense of fun, community and, of course, pride. These Pride events were borne out of a demonstration against the discrimination and violence that gay people faced, and whilst they are now and enjoyable and flamboyant social event they still carry an important message. Homosexuality has been illegal for most of our history and even now, in many countries, gay people can face grave consequences. Whilst the riot of colour, music and fairground rides was celebratory, the Derbyshire LGBT+ stand had a historic reminder of the legal discrimination this community has faced.
The Pride movement, and the huge numbers of people now attending, including families with children and grandparents, shows the huge steps that have been made and how attitudes have changed. The Rainbow flag has become a familiar sight and something that people and organisations proudly display. I saw children with the rainbow symbols painted on their faces, men and women carrying rainbow flags or wearing technicolour clothes, and people from all walks of life coming together in solidarity under the rainbow banner.
The LGBT rights movement has won numerous legislative victories in this country in a relatively short space of time, such as Equal Marriage, equal rights to adopt and foster children, the right for transgender people to have their birth certificate changed, specific protections from hate crimes. Only 16 years ago, transsexualism was still classified as a mental illness and it is only 13 years since Tony Blair’s Labour Government introduced civil partnerships. The steps that have been made in the last 15-20 years are immense and the Pride movement has been central to these achievements.
But LGBT people still face discrimination both at home, in society and at work. A new Chesterfield LGBT office is being set up to support LGBT people and their families with a view to increasing respect and tolerance. Historically, gay people were forced to live their lives in total secrecy. But they wish to be able to be open about their lives, and celebrate their relationships, just like everyone else. The success of Chesterfield Pride 2018 suggests we are making good progress here, and our society is all the better for it.