06 / 8 / 2015 12.12pm
I’m fairly new to the NHS Employers team and although I’ve lived in Leeds for over five years now, I’ve never attended Leeds Pride.
As a fairly quiet, female from a small village in the midlands, I never thought I would fit in at Pride. Some of my friends had been, but they’re loud, eccentric and a lot more exciting than me. But the day opened my eyes, and I realised there’s no right, or wrong, way to be – and the overwhelming sense of acceptance in the atmosphere had the ability to put anybody at ease.
Building up the excitement
Before the main event we took to twitter to drum up excitement, asking people to say what Pride means to them and to contribute song choices for us to play on the day. I really enjoyed reading through people’s answers, and it started to dawn on me what Pride does mean, not only on the day, but what it shows for society and the importance of celebrating equality and diversity.
On the day, I joined the rest of the NHS Employers team along with our ride for the day, an open-top double-decker bus. We spent the morning securing banners to the vehicle, hanging rainbow bunting, blowing up more balloons than the bus could hold and of course, perfecting our show-stopping playlist. We were joined by fantastic volunteers from different NHS organisations, they helped us hand out balloons to the public and make short-video clips, again asking people to say what Pride means for them. I was really nervous the first time I went into the crowds. Not being a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, I felt as though I would be less welcome. However, that wasn’t the case, and that sort of thinking is probably one of the reasons why Pride is so important, it’s about accepting people for who they are and celebrating diversity and equality.
In no time at all the parade was due to set off. We were the last vehicle, which was great for setting up a Go Pro on the back of the bus to film all of the people that walked along behind us. I was overwhelmed by the amount of people in the crowds, and just how colourful the sea of people were. I could see the emotion in people’s faces as our bus proudly drove on in the procession. Our playlist was a hit, people were singing loud and proud with us, all waving the flag of diversity and swaying in harmony.
Leeds Pride was completely unexpected for me. The atmosphere was great, but it wasn’t just a party – although everybody was having a lot of fun – it has true emotional ties, and it felt fantastic to be part of the diverse, accepting and proud future – an event I would love to be a part of again.
For more information about Pride, or if you have any questions about the blog, contact Lizzie Marlow.