This year, my Pride Season kicked off with a celebration of International Non-Binary Day in Leeds on Sunday the 14th of July. Non-Binary Leeds had organised an event at the City Museum, and the City Council had arranged for the non-binary flag to be flown from two civic buildings (a bunch of us trooped outside into Millennium Square to get photographic evidence, but the breeze was insufficient to properly unfurl the flag).
The event went very well, with a talk by Councillor Hannah Bithell, Leeds City Council’s Lead member for LBT women and non binary people, and another by Kit Heyam, a trans historian. There were paper copies of two new zines produced by the group to take away: one covering our history, and the other covering our present, as well as a vast pile of shoelaces in the non-binary flag colours, courtesy of Pinsent Mason Solicitors. Also present were folk from West Yorkshire Queer Stories, who conducted interviews away from the main room (I’ll have to make an announcement when mine is online). It was a generally chilled out day, and it was great to see so many non-binary folk gathered together in one place and have the opportunity to talk to them all.
Spurred on by that excitement, I decided that I needed something fabulous to wear at other upcoming Pride events. My blue denim jacket is well-adorned with pin-badges and patches, but is starting to look a little shabby, so I pulled a grey one out of the back of a wardrobe and decided to see what I could do with it. A trip through the washing machine revealed that the Pink Floyd patch its previous owner had glued on the back needed to be re-affixed, and if I was going to start sewing, then I might as well add more patches. I added four (all from Tab Kimpton’s store) in time for Happy Valley Pride.
Happy Valley Pride is a week-long event, taking place across Calderdale, and concluding with a full weekend of events in Hebden Bridge. I decided the Saturday’s outdoor markets and live music, and indoor lesbian authors event, were well worth a look, and pencilled in some of Sunday’s events as well, depending on the accuracy of the rather off-putting weather forecasts.
Saturday the 27th of July started out dry, if not very sunny, and I arrived early enough to wander round the town for a couple of hours (energised by a Unicorn Milkshake purchased from the Hebble End Coffee Lounge). The whole town felt genuinely geared up for Pride, with various of the small stores’ owners telling me they were planning to go out dancing later. The market had a good mix of community groups and larger organisations, some of whom had merchandise on offer: allowing me to add to the badges and patches on my jacket along with a pair of earrings in the shape of David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust’s lightening bolt symbol in the non-binary flag colours. Just up the road, the regular Saturday Market stallholders were also catering to the Pride crowd, and making a good show of putting up with the rain that was now coming down a bit hard.
The lesbian authors event was a welcome respite from the weather, and greatly enlivened by the presence of Fergus the dog. Authors on stage were Jen Silver, Clare Ashton, Andrea Bramhall, Clare Lydon, Jody Klaire (human companion to the aforementioned Fergus), and Sam Skyborne, while our host was Velvet Lounger. After hearing readings, along with questions from both the stage and the audience, we had a plenty of time to mingle and buy books. I was very restrained (in view of the weather and getting things home safe and dry), and only bought one book.
I was planning to go home straight afterwards, due to the continuing rain, but I was tempted back into the main square by the music of Thee Windom Earles. I danced under my umbrella for a while, but eventually decided that I was better trying to catch the impending train than waiting for another an hour later.
Following my adventures at Happy Valley Pride (it was too wet to go back on the Sunday), I ordered more patches from Tab’s site and spent a frantic week adding them to my jacket in time for Leeds Pride. I’d arranged to march with the group from Non-Binary Leeds, but it took me a while to track them down, which gave me plenty of opportunities to take pictures. Once we were all assembled, I was given the job of carrying the brand-new genderqueer flag (with some help from a very glittery and sequinny ally), since the flagpole only had sufficient attachment points for the equally new non-binary flag.
We marched in the middle of a 200+ trans* contingent and were very shouty and political, especially when we reached a small protest group of trans-exclusionary radical feminists who’d tucked themselves in amongst the crowds along with way (and were already outnumbered by a counter-protest group of (mostly) lebians and bi women. Other than that little incident, the reaction from the crowds who’d turned out to watch the parade was very positive and affirmatory, although I had no voice left by the end of it. The after-party, when we finally got in was a tad anticlimactic, and no where near as much fun as the all day partying that went on in Hebden Bridge.
A grand set of days out overall: I’m giving Manchester Pride a miss this year; having taken part in the Peterloo Bicentenary events the week before (more on which later) and spent a whole weekend at Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb the week before that, I need some time at home to chill out and catch up with domestic stuff.