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Pride and protest in Hattiesburg

LGBT in the SOUTH Conference 

 

By Felicia Blow

My first trip with the Campaign for Southern Equality and my first trip to the Deep South were one and the same. Although I’ve lived in the South all my life, I’ve never ventured farther than North Georgia (well, Florida, technically, but I wouldn’t consider Disney World the Deep South), and making the drive to Hattiesburg, Mississippi earlier this month was daunting for a couple reasons: I get carsick and restless on long drives, and I was a newcomer to CSE where the staff has built strong connections and relationships with Hattiesburg locals. I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

Southern Pride-1

My awesome coworkers Chloe and Ivy, right before we hit the road!

As we packed up the car, I volunteered to take the first shift driving to keep occupied. I marked each border we crossed ­– city limits, county, state – as the highway wound us back and forth out of the mountains. We had a short, but sweet stopover in Birmingham for the night, where we ate at a delicious Asian food truck with extremely generous portions. It was an unexpected find and reminded me of something I’d see back in Asheville, with its love of fusion food and novelty eats. I dove into the heaping plate of pork eggrolls, grateful for good food and a break from the car ride, and by then I’d started to feel settled into the trip. There are few better ways to get comfortable with a group of people than by traveling together. We jammed to Top 40 in the car and crammed into a hotel room on the outskirts of downtown, Ivy taking one for the team, sleeping on a stiff, squeaky sofa bed.

I would have regretted the short amount of time we spent there if I hadn’t known we’d be returning in a month for Birmingham’s own convening. So the next morning, we arrived in Hattiesburg and immediately got to work, shopping for snacks and setting up the space for the next day’s convening at the Spectrum Center, a fairly recently opened LGBT community center – and the only one in Hattiesburg – run by Sara and LB Bell, longtime leaders in CSE.

We had a late night and an early start the next morning to get the food set up and tie up loose ends before people started arriving, so I downed some coffee and we were off and running. I had to do some public speaking at the start of the convening, which is never my first choice, and I characteristically rushed through it, but since I started in August, the whole staff has been great at getting me to do things I’d usually shy away from. I got through it and spent the rest of the day in a picture-taking frenzy, uploading things to Facebook and Twitter, inviting people to come out.

As it was, we had an amazing turnout; there was barely enough room for everyone to sit in the small house-turned-center. It always energizes me to be in a space full of folks who are engaged – with the work and with each other – and who are committed to learning, working, and making change. There’s something undeniable about it, and dropping in on sessions throughout the day showed me how much people were taking away from this event that I’d had an, admittedly small, hand in helping to create in the last month and a half.

Southern Pride-2

Awesome attendees after a great day of learning and connecting.

There’s something exciting and warming about bearing witness to a sense of community among others; I’m always glad to be invited into those spaces, and in this one I felt immediately welcome. It’s something I love about the South, and it’s more than just run-of-the-mill Southern hospitality. For some, the notion of Southern Pride might seem like a paradox in and of itself, but those of us from these states know there is reason to be proud, both of where we come from and of who we are. The next day at Southern Fried Pride, Hattiesburg’s first ever Pride celebration, it was evident how many people had banded together to make this possible. How much love, and, as it soon became clear, how much courage and conviction it took.

Southern Pride-3

Nationwide, tensions are high around rights and safety for LGBT folks and people of color, and day after day there is news of another mass shooting. Two had taken place just the day before. So when protesters arrived, their intentions unclear and their affiliations muddled – Christian, Confederate, Klan – I was terrified for a moment. Even with the local police presence and relatively small number of protesters, the fact remained that we were a group of people of all kinds of racial, sexual, and gender identities, and the cause for concern was not unwarranted. A few weeks later one of the protesters was arrested for bombing a Wal-Mart in Tupelo, Mississippi after the store’s decision to discontinue selling confederate flags. Sometimes that gut feeling just can’t be ignored.

But as the day wore on, it seemed their only goals were intimidation and attention. Some of them set up in camper chairs and took selfies with their flags (I can only imagine how one would caption that), and ultimately, after entering the parade through downtown – some trailing behind, some directly inserting themselves, rubbing shoulders with us – they packed up early and headed home.

There were four hours left in the day for Pridegoers to celebrate unopposed, but the contrast between the great hospitality I experienced and the sharp hostility of their presence stuck with me. I knew I’d be back to this region again in a month’s time, in Birmingham, and wondered if we’d face similar resistance there. It’s a fearful and confusing time to be living in, but it’s important to hold that tension and uncertainty while we figure it out

Pride History

Editorial:  I am reposting this article from the QUB website, as it provides back ground to Belfast Pride which we have been remiss in writing up ourselves:

 

Pride History
Gay Pride’s origins can be traced to riots at the Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, New York City on June 27th 1969. Homosexual clientele and people of colour who frequented the bar, resisted assaults and corruption of police, resulting in three nights of rioting which is regarded as the conception of the modern gay rights movement. The Gay Liberation Front commemorated the first anniversary of the riots with a march from Greenwich Village to Central Park, while gay activists held a march in Los Angeles. Other cities and towns followed suit and the trend spread worldwide, with marches being held annually as a means to inspire a growing gay activist movement.  Various titles for the marches such as gay freedom day and gay liberation day were abandoned in the 1980’s, due to a shift by less radical members of the gay movement and the parades are now commonly known as Gay Pride.

P. A. Mag Lochlainn, the President of Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association, explained how dander, a Northern Ireland euphemism for walk was “deliberately chosen for the Belfast parade as a break from the monotonous marches hitherto seen in this city.” The dander marks the finale of Belfast Pride Festival which comprises a week of social events, exhibitions, talks and cinema. It would be a different experience for me this year by acting as a participant observer, filming the parade, taking photographs and conducting interviews for this website. It was my fourth attendance at Belfast Pride and I had already been present at Dublin and London Pride that summer. So what is it about Pride that has me and hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, parading through city and town centres, many in costume, waving rainbow flags to the sound of pop music?  As I stood in Writers Square waiting to interview P.A I remembered what he had stated in a prior interview. “Visibility is life, invisibility is death.”

P. A. Mag Lochlainn has sat on the Belfast Pride committee since its formation in 1991 and explained how a delegation from the Belfast gay community had attended London Pride for several years before deciding to host the first Belfast Pride festival.  He told me, “the motivation to stage Belfast Pride has always been to increase the visibility of our local LGBT community in order to claim our rightful place in the life of this city and community.  Just as “Silence equals Death”, we felt that freedom requires Visibility.   Our enemies used to be able to maximise homophobia, i.e. Baroness O Cathain alleging in the House of Lords that “every political party” in Northern Ireland was against LGBT rights, when in point of fact the DUP was the only political party doing so.   Pride proved these bigots were lying, and encouraged our local LGBT groups to trust in the good sense of the wider community.”

He remembered the first event was hard to organise and had little if any funding, but with the help of the Socialist Workers Party at Queen’s, a week of community and educational events took place. The first parade saw just fifty or so marchers leaving from the University of Ulster in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast city centre. They carried a low budget banner and wore t-shirts and lapel buttons saying Gay Pride Belfast 1991. The ‘A’ in gay was represented by a pink triangle, a symbol of homosexuality. Not many spectators watched the parade as people on the streets did not understand what it was, or what is was about. P.A. explains how he has always encouraged non-threatening or provocative engagement with onlookers in order to win hearts and minds. “If you get a smile back from the crowd,” he informs me “then you’ve won.”

They marched to Botanic Gardens amid opposition from churches and paramilitary threats of ambush at Sandy Row, due to a Junior Orange Order March scheduled at the same time.  In an amusing twist to the tale P.A. recollects how the police had asked for the parade to be postponed but could not give the reason why. It turned out that the marchers would not be the only queens in town that day as HM Queen Elizabeth II would also be in Belfast, ”she was not specially invited,” jokes P.A. The heightened security helped alleviate fears of violence and held church demonstrators in check. On its completion “the marchers felt wonderful and there was a sense of disbelief we had done it,” says P.A. That first small march seemed a far cry from the 2008 parade which I now filmed making its noisy and colourful way towards me from Royal Avenue. A mass of spectators converged at city hall cheering and clapping while Christians demonstrated with banners calling for homosexuals to repent their sins. Then Tina Legs Tantrum, the local celebrity drag queen drew up, atop a float dressed in silver sequence frock and white wig, waving a rainbow flag to the jubilation of the crowd.  For a moment my anthropological research ceased as I became swept away in the atmosphere. “At streets parades, those instances that result in feelings of belonging rely upon moments were actions, performances, emotions come together in a particular rhythm to create a sense of being special, or social camaraderie (Duffy Watt & Gibson, 2007: 7). Hence, I argue that this as a fundamental reason for the success and continuance of Pride.

Research from Thomas Fegan – BELFAST GAY PRIDE PARADE 2008

YouTube's #ProudToLove celebration of LGBT Pride Month exudes authenticity

 

Social video experts Be On evaluate the latest viral campaign from YouTube.

#ProudToLove homes in on the individual, zooming in and out of the legislature and always maintaining a human element. 9/10Marking LGBT Pride Month and the Supreme Court ruling to recognise same-sex marriage across the US, YouTube has released a heart-warming #ProudToLove campaign, showing their support.

In just under two and a half minutes, audiences are drawn in emotionally through scenes of overwhelming positivity and love as top vloggers from around the globe come out to their closest friends and family.

Honest and truly intimate, the campaign is shot in a documentary style and exudes authenticity.

The video includes the likes of Orange Is The New Black star and LGBT advocate, Laverne Cox, as well as Ellen DeGeneres and Ellen Page, alongside regular couples.

The responses from both the cast and the audience are genuine and heart-felt, channelling messages of love and positivity. As one mother points out, “My son is not an issue. He is a person.”

Indeed, #ProudToLove homes in on the individual, zooming in and out of the legislature and always maintaining a human element.

YouTube has utilised its platform to the max, combining meaningful storytelling with a strong social campaign, with online news sources including The Huffington Post, sharing the film with its global readers and amplifying the message.

The video also includes beauty blogger, Ingrid Nilsen, who recently made the headlines after clocking up 9m views for her coming out video.

Here is a campaign that reaches vast audiences, capitalises on talent and engages viewers in a meaningful way.

AirBnB have made a stunning video for Pride

Airbnb have released a truly excellent video for Pride telling the stories of LGBT couples and what it’s like for them when traveling.

We hear from people who have journeyed for years across the world and those who are just starting out in their relationships. From the couple who always had to keep their relationship a secret to the parents who fear the situation where they might have to “deny being a family, or pretend like you’re a mother and an aunt.”

“Travel breaks down barriers, people see you and you’re no longer a mystery”

“My greater hope would be that beyond just being tolerated by a society we would actually being accepted.”

This video is a brilliant addition to pride and finishes with the hope that one day, all love is welcome in the world.

Words Josh Withey, @josh_withey

Target's New Pride Commercial Will Make Your Queer Heart Sing

 

 

 

Posted: Updated:

Target is ringing in Pride month in a very big way, introducing a rainbow-themed clothing and accessories line as well as an inclusive ad campaign.

Unveiled June 8, the Minnesota-based retail giant’s #TakePride line is available online and in select stores. It includes T-shirts, swim trunks and flip-flops, as well as headphones, iPhone cases and other products.

target take pride line

Pride Swim Short, Rainbow
The commercial that accompanies the campaign, which can be viewed above, pairs archival footage of LGBT rights milestones with colorful, time-lapse images and present-day Pride clips.

“We’re not born with pride,” a voiceover declares. “We take pride, pride in celebrating who we were born to be.”

target flip flops

Pride Flip Flop Sandals, Rainbow Chevron
Laysha Ward, Target’s Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer, said in a statement:

We’re making our message loud and clear: Target proudly stands with the LGBT community, both as a team member and team player through all that we do – from our volunteer efforts to our long-standing partnerships with groups likeFamily Equality Council and Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, to the very products we carry in our stores and online.

pride t shirt

Pride Men’s Sunday Funday, Navy
Target, which came under criticism in 2013 for reportedly making a donation to an organization that supported an anti-gay Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, has made great strides toward inclusivity in recent years. Last year, the company signed an amicus brief in support of marriage equality, while a commercial for their “Made to Matter” product line featured two gay men painting with a child.

In 2012, the company created 10 Pride T-shirts, including two designed by Gwen Stefani, that were available online.

View a selection of products from Target’s #TakePride line below:

  • 1
    Pride Women’s 50 Shades of Fabulous T-Shirt, White
    Target
  • 2
    Pride Rainbow Chevron Earbud with Microphone
    Target
  • 3
    Pride Kid’s Thing Called Love T-Shirt, White
  • 4
    Pride Men’s Love is Love Tank, White
    Target
  • 5
    Pride Flip Flop Sandals, Rainbow Chevron
    Target
  • 6
    Pride Love Is Love Tumbler
    Target
  • 7
    Pride Men’s Sunday Funday Navy
    Target
  • 8
    Pride Men’s Vintage Love Is Love T-Shirt, Grey
    Target
  • 9
    Pride Men’s Unicorns On Fleek T-Shirt, Charcoal

Get ready for Pride Edinburgh

Get ready for Pride Edinburgh

Hi Everyone

Saturday 20th June is Pride Edinburgh! – Can you volunteer to help Equality Network?

The Equality Network will be out in force at Pride Edinburgh in Edinburgh on Saturday 20th June and we are looking for volunteers to help promote our campaigns and wider work for LGBTI equality to the thousands of people who will attend.

This year we are marching for trans and intersex rights in the parade from the Scottish Parliament, up the Royal Mile, to Bristo Square. Once there we need volunteers to help by distributing information and shaking buckets.

If you can spare some time on Saturday 20th June or in the days before pride and want to support LGBTI equality please let us know by filling out the online volunteer form.

If you’re not able to volunteer but are attending Pride make sure you pop by the Equality Network stall and say hi!

Yours for equality,
Scott Cuthbertson

Development Coordinator
Equality Network

Nominations are open for the first Scottish LGBTI Awards! Nominate across twelve categories at www.equality-network.org/nominate.
What are your priorities for LGBTI equality? Over 400 people have already responded to our consultation on the next priorities for LGBTI equality in Scotland. Let us know your views today: www.equality-network.org/sp16
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Watch: United Nations Free and Equal campaign launches new video

By John Mack Freeman

Free-and-EqualThis week, the United Nations Free and Equal campaign released a new video encouraging people to see past labels. The video played all day in Times Square on May 14. Here is the video and description:

This video from the United Nations Free & Equal campaign celebrates the contributions that millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people make to families and local communities around the world. The cast features “real people” (not actors), filmed in their workplaces and homes — among them, a firefighter, a police officer, a teacher, an electrician, a doctor and a volunteer, as well as prominent straight ally and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

https://youtu.be/JosMsjRNznM

Brighton Pride – 2015

 

Will you be in Brighton during the last two weeks of July, first week of August 2015 – if so make a determined effort to go to some of the events being orchestrated for Brighton Pride.  there is something for everyone – click the poster shown above, or click this link to go to their website for up to date information:

 

Still fighting for equality: So So Gay speaks to Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners

We have yet to hear anything negative about Pride, 2014’s UK film highlight. Tracking the fascinating real-life friendship forged between a Welsh mining community and a group of London-based LGB activists at the height of the strikes, the film has struck a chord with audiences worldwide. We were keen to find out a little more about what has become of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners in the years that have passed, so caught up for a chat with Martin Goodsell and Brett Haran, the group’s treasurers and founder members of LGSM.

So So Gay: Hi, how are you both today?

LGSM: We’re both very well, thank you. Thanks for asking us about our involvement in LGSM. We know there’s lots of interest in the group following the huge success of Pride.

What have you been doing with yourselves in the 30 years since the events depicted inPride?

Quite a lot of things, as you can imagine, over such a long period of time. We’ve continued to be involved in various political campaigns over the years. In addition to our campaigning work, we both became dads to two delightful kids: a daughter, now 29, and a son, now 23. They’re both really proud and fascinated by what their dads and their comrades were involved in all those years ago.

lgsmSo how do you feel about the positive response to the film?

We think it’s been fantastic. The reviews have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic; many people have said they can’t remember the last time they found a film so moving, uplifting, joyous and life affirming. It really seems to have struck a chord, with many people saying there was spontaneous applause at the end of the film.

Do you feel it’s an accurate portrayal of events?

Well, the film is obviously not a documentary. It’s a dramatised account that’s aiming to get the story and its key message across to as wide an audience as possible. Some elements of the film have been fictionalised for dramatic effect, but the essential story as depicted in the film is very definitely an accurate portrayal.

Before the film came out, many of us felt that the amazing story of the coming together of our two communities – LGBT and the miners – could so easily have been forgotten. The film has ensured this is no longer the case and that’s very gratifying. It’s an important part of working class and LGBT history. As a direct result of LGSM’s involvement in the strike, the National Union of Mineworkers supported a motion which secured the Labour Party’s formal manifesto commitment to lesbian and gay equality – which led to significant advances for LGBT rights in the UK when Labour finally returned to power in the late 90s.

This includes the equalisation of the age of consent, outlawing discrimination against LGBT people in employment and the provision of goods and services, the inclusion of homophobia in the definition of hate crimes, repealing Section 28 and the introduction of civil partnerships, which paved the way for marriage equality.

To what extent do you feel the gay rights movement has become less political?

As a community we’ve achieved many goals over the last 30 years – we’ve just mentioned some of the key achievements in terms of equalities legislation. Because of these successes there’s a danger in thinking that the politics has gone and it’s now more about lifestyle. But there are plenty of stories in the press and online that show us that violence and discrimination against LGBT people – including homophobic bullying in schools – are still depressingly common and need to be confronted. We can’t be complacent and need to continue to support and defend the rights of LGBT people at home and abroad. In political terms, we’re still the target of abuse and hostility from those on the far right including Ukip. This must be challenged and exposed for the naked bigotry that it is. Thankfully, there are still plenty of people, LGBT and straight, who are committed to tackling these issues, through grass roots campaigns, community organisations and the trade unions.

Are you still in touch with any of the miners or their families?

We’ve seen Sian James on a couple of occasions over the last few years, but it was only at the premiere of the film Pride that we caught up again with many of our old friends from the Welsh mining communities.

What do you consider the greatest political challenges for the trade union movement and the LGBT community in 2014?

The biggest challenge for the trade union movement is the continuing fight against the government’s austerity measures, with cuts in public services and attacks on welfare. Some of the poorest and most vulnerable people are bearing the brunt of these measures. It’s very much an ‘us and them’, ‘divide and rule’ agenda. Just like 30 years ago during the miners’ strike, people are being scapegoated. The trade unions must continue to stand up for these people and give them a voice.

It’s important for us in the LGBT community to show solidarity with communities coming under attack. The gains we have made as LGBT people have come about when we have made common cause with others who have been fighting for their rights. The message of the Pridefilm demonstrates this perfectly.

lgsm-3-1-publicity-copy-of-a3-poster-pits-and-pervertsLGSM has regrouped. How has that been for you?

It’s been an incredibly emotional and inspirational experience. We had kept in touch with many of our old LGSM friends over the last 30 years but through the film and the regrouping of LGSM, we’ve also met friends and comrades again that we hadn’t seen for almost 30 years.

What does the future hold for the group?

It’s exciting how much energy and commitment there is for getting involved in new campaigns around LGBT issues and wider solidarity campaigns. There’s been an incredible amount of interest in LGSM generated by the film and not only in the UK but around the world.

We are planning to go back down to Dulais in March 2015 to mark the 30th anniversary of the end of the strike. We can’t wait to see if Jonathan will be able to match the dancing skills of his film counterpart when we find ourselves once again in the Onllwyn miners’ welfare hall! We are also looking to have a high profile presence at London Pride 2015, to mark the historic 30th anniversary of the miners and their families leading the Pride march in a show of solidarity with the LGBT community.

 

So So Gay readers can purchase a Pits & Perverts t-shirt, as sown in the film, directly from Martin by email at martin2003brasil@yahoo.co.uk. All proceeds go to supporting the campaigning work of LGSM. You can also follow LGSM on Twitter: (@LGSMpride)

Welsh History Month: South Wales’ first ever gay pride march took place in Cardiff with marchers parading down Queen Street

Picture 83: These activists envisioned this march in Cardiff as a “coming out” for gay and lesbian activism in South Wales and an occasion to celebrate and affirm Wales’ sexually diverse and gender-blended

The Gay Pride march through the centre of Cardiff in 1985

Those who have recently seen the film Pride in the cinema will be familiar with images like this. No, it’s not a picture of the group “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners” marching in London, but it was taken in the mid-1980s.

Dating from 1985, this image, right, depicts South Wales’ first ever gay pride march. It took place in Cardiff with marchers parading down Queen Street to the bemusement of shoppers and pedestrians. According to the editorial piece accompanying the image, “many [onlookers] shook their heads in disbelief – others laughed and laughed away”.

The presence of policemen and placards in this picture may give the impression of a demonstration, but the theme of this march was pride, not protest.

Holding signs which read “Gay love is good love”and “sing if you’re glad to be gay”, these activists envisioned this march in Cardiff as a “coming out” for gay and lesbian activism in South Wales and an occasion to celebrate and affirm Wales’ sexually diverse and gender-blended society.

The gay rights movement has come a long way since 1985, and Wales’ population continues to be made up of individuals with differing sexual orientations. Nowhere is this diversity celebrated more openly than in Cardiff’s annual LGBT Mardi Gras festival, now Pride Cymru.

Established in 1999, Cardiff’s gay pride festival is held every summer in Cooper’s Field in Bute Park and is the largest event of its kind to take place in Wales. It’s serious and it’s loud, but it is primarily a celebration of diversity, with thousands of people (gay and non-gay) taking part each year.

Gay pride events such as this are not limited to the confines of Wales’ capital city, however. Similar events have been held and continue to be held in other towns and cities in the country such as Aberystwyth’s “Pride on the Prom”, Bangor’s North Wales Pride and Swansea Pride.

Wales has an interesting history of gay activism, one which stretches back further than the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Leo Abse (1917-2008), the Cardiff-born solicitor and Welsh Labour MP for Pontypool and Torfaen between 1958 and 1987, for instance, was an active gay rights campaigner and noted for promoting legislation to decriminalise male homosexual relations in the United Kingdom in the 1960s.

Cai Parry-Jones: “I am a Welsh-speaking Cardiff-born historian. I was awarded a doctorate in History from Bangor University in 2014 and I now work in academic publishing. I have a great interest in the histories and cultures of minority groups and I am currently in the process of turning my PhD thesis on the modern history of Jewish individuals and communities in Wales into a book.”

 

Republished from Wales Online