More than 40,000 people attended a Unite-sponsored Gay Pride celebration in Hull – 2017 City of Culture – on Saturday.
Unite provided £17,000 for the festival, which included a massive parade through the city centre and a free concert featuring 80s singer Marc Almond and pop groups Cleopatra and B*Witched.
Around 100 Unite members and volunteers, carrying balloons and rainbow flags, paraded alongside colourful floats dedicated to LGBT icons such as Sir Ian McKellen, Tom Daley, Dusty Springfield and Eastenders’ actress Pam St Clement, who played Pat Butcher.
Unite construction member Tom Wormleighton, 34, was on the procession with his daughters, Neive, 6, and Holly, 9.
He said, “I’ve come to show my support and brought the kids down to celebrate as well.
“It’s a great day out for them but more importantly it’s about showing the generations going forward that there’s nothing wrong with living life the way you want to live it.”
Lizzy Park, 14, was also part of the Unite procession. She decided to join after being invited by a friend from her football club who is a member of the union.
She said, “I’m here because I’m gay and I’m proud. I think it’s great that Unite are supporting today and that the union is proud to be part of the community.
“For young people now-a-days it’s much easier to be LGBT. The issues are known about and you can be yourself.”
Retired Unite member Tristan Alexander agreed. Tristan, who used to work for the Yodel delivery company, has been volunteering at Hull Pride for the last three years with his husband David (both pictured in the main image).
The pair met in a nightclub in London in 1983 and have lived through many watershed moments for the LGBT community.
Tristan said, “We moved to Hull in 2004 and even since then things have changed. Gay people now walk hand-in-hand in Hull, but when we first arrived that’s not something you would have seen.”
Despite progress with LGBT rights and acceptance, however, Tristan said there was still much work to be done.
He said, “Things are much better but you know people are still being forced out of their jobs for being gay. It’s illegal to sack people because of their sexuality but prejudiced employers find others ways to get rid of them.
“That’s why trade unions have an important role to play in fighting for gay rights in the workplace.”
The event is the first time all of the UK’s 70 Pride festivals have come together to plan a single national event highlighting the issues affecting the LGBT community.
It marked the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of gay sex when the sexual offences act was passed in 1967.
Unite is calling on the government to institute a legal pardon for all those convicted of homosexual offences, explained LGBT committee chair for the North East, Yorkshire and Humber region, Sharon Wadwell.
Wadwell, who was invited by the event’s organisers to lay a rainbow wreath at Hull’s cenotaph as the parade passed by, said, “They should all have a pardon.
“It should never have happened in the first place. Love is love – no matter who you are.”
After the parade had finished there was a free concert in Hull’s Queen’s Garden. Unite regional administrator, Michela Peters, organised the union’s stall at the event.
She said, “I’m really proud. I’m from Hull and I just think it’s fantastic that as well as being the UK City of Culture we’ve hosted the first UK Pride as well.
“All the local branches have been really supportive. The Humber Docks and Waterways branch sponsored the first prize in our raffle, which was a £250 P&O voucher.
“Hull’s Stagecoach branch sponsored the water stations and provided 2000 bottles of water, North East Lincolnshire Council branch provided the Unite headbands and Hull City Council branch provided all the t-shirts.
“The support has just been brilliant.”
Unite regional coordinating officer for the Humber region, Bev Clarkson, thanked everybody who volunteered and contributed to the event for their efforts and said Unite’s participation was reflective of the union’s commitment to LGBT rights.
She said, “Our £17,000 sponsorship for the UK Pride in Hull underlines Unite’s strong and unwavering commitment to LGBT issues whether in the workplace and, more generally, in everyday life.
“Hull is the gateway to the north and to be chosen firstly as City of Culture and as the first-ever venue for the UK Pride event is a great privilege.
“In 2016, a decade after Hull was crowned one of the worst places in Britain to live, it was named one of the world’s top 10 cities to visit.”
All pics by Mark Harvey