“Those involved weren’t judged, but loved” the Pride events helping increase visibility of LGBTQ+ people in Wales

As Census data released earlier this year showed LGBTQ+ people live and participate in every part of Wales, the Welsh Government’s Grassroots Pride Fund offers support for the development and organisation of smaller Pride events to ensure they thrive.

From Barry to Bangor, Pride celebrations now take place across Wales each year, helping more people to feel free, supported and safe, as the nation continues towards its goal of becoming the most LGBTQ+ friendly place in Europe.

Events like Cowbridge Pride bring people together, increase visibility and reduce rural isolation. Organiser Ian ‘H’ Watkins said he felt passionate about offering representation to those who needed it in his community:

It’s my local town, it’s where my children are growing up and there are lots of people within the LGBTQ+ community that I felt weren’t championed so I took it upon myself to be that voice.

Pride events in big towns and cities are the jewels in the crown but in my opinion, the really important ones are the ones that happen in small towns.

As a gay man, I’ve grown up through lots of change in the LGBTQ+ community. We can get used to being called names, being pushed to the back of the queue and growing a thick skin, but I was completely overwhelmed with the support and comradery for the whole LGBTQ+ community at Cowbridge Pride.

It absolutely blew me away and exceeded all of my expectations.

LGBTQ+ rights are embedded in the Welsh Government’s Programme for Government with Ministers committed to meaningful change for all LGBTQ+ communities.

International Transgender Day of Visibility is dedicated to celebrating transgender people and Pride events are the perfect example of safe spaces where people can live and celebrate as their authentic selves.

Cowbridge Pride included a fashion show at last year’s event which specifically included trans models. Ian added:

The response was just incredible. Those involved weren’t judged and instead enveloped in love, part of a community and a beautiful family. I’m really proud of that.

Earlier this year, the LGBTQ+ Action Plan was launched as part of the Welsh Government’s Programme for Government and the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru, which showed a clear commitment to defending and promoting the rights and dignity of trans and non-binary people.

The Plan underlines Wales’ intention to advance equality and inclusion and the continued support of local pride organisations and pride events was one its actions.

Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn said:

Here in Wales, we want to ensure there’s representation in every town, city, and village as part of our ambition to be the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Europe. To play our part in providing a platform to make sure every LGBTQ+ person can take part in and enjoy all that Prides have to offer.

I know from personal experience the difference Pride events in local communities across the country make. When I was growing up in North Wales, I could never have imagined a local Pride event and to see Prides happening across the country today means a lot to me.