3rd July 2020

Culture / Featured / Chester Pride

Chester Pride: Our Vision for 2020 and Beyond. An Original Interview with Some Good Ideas

23 6 mins 0

CChester Pride 2020 was cancelled due to Coronavirus and although a devastating blow to the LGBTQ+ community, the organisers have been working hard to bring exciting support projects and alternative event plans. We speak to Warren Lee Allmark, the Chester Pride Chair to discuss how they have navigated the changes enforced on them.

Some Good Ideas: Hi Warren, how are you and where are you right now?

Warren Lee Allmark: I’m very well thank you; I’m currently sat in my office working on some exciting projects for Chester pride that have come about from Covid-19

SGI: Can you explain what your job role is and how you got here? 

WLA: I’m proud to say I’m the appointed Chester Pride Chair, this is a voluntary role. I started with Chester Pride back in 2013 as the Main Stage Coordinator, a role I still continue to do, overseeing the booking of hosts, entertainment and guest speakers. In 2014 I became a Director and have remained a Director and the only original member of the Chester Pride committee.

SGI: What is Pride and what does it mean to you? 

WLA: Pride is a celebration of people’s individuality and the ability to promote, educate and inform people of LGBT+ struggles with the law and society. Whilst great improvements have been achieved from Pride and advocates, we still have a long way to go before we are fully accepted and equal, something I hope to see within my lifetime. Pride to me personally is a great responsibility to keep to true to our original commitment to the LGBT+ community in Chester and the local region; that we would offer a space to be yourself, and be welcoming to people of all genders, sexual orientations, faiths, and races, to be able to understand better the issues we face. We want to deliver a message to every young person who feels different, that being different is a good thing and not something to hide, but in fact, be proud of who you are.

SGI: Devastatingly, this year’s Chester Pride Parade was cancelled due to Coronavirus. How has this affected the community and the wider community? Are you planning any alternative events or projects? 

WLA: I would say I speak for the majority of the LGBT+ community when I say we are truly gutted that Chester Pride 2020 did not go ahead as planned, however as a Committee we will always put the safety of the publics ahead of celebrations and mass gatherings. Covid-19 has had a huge impact of the Pride movement as a whole, we however have turned this negative into a positive by bringing forward 6 projects that we planned to deliver throughout our five year roadmap (Please see attached for details of the projects). with the backing and full support of M&S Bank, Bank of America, Bristol Myers Squibb, Virgin Care & funding from the Government distributed by the national lottery community fund.

SGI: How do you ensure that Pride is adequately representing the Black community? 

WLA: Chester Pride has always and will continue to represent and work for all members of our community and we support the Black lives matter movement which is needed to fight systemic racism. The Pride movement itself arose from the actions of people of colour back in 1969 at the Stonewall riots, due to unfair police brutality against the LGBT+ Community of New York. As part of our 6 projects we are launching we are ensuring that we embed and support our BAME LGBT+ community in Chester and the wider region. We are still in the planning stages of our approach and are working with BAME member to ensure the support we offer addresses the specific needs of our BAME community.

 

SGI: How does Pride do its part to be a sustainable, environmentally aware event?

WLA: One of our biggest issues as an event is waste, we work very closely with Cheshire West & Chester Council to ensure our waste impact can be minimised, and we proactively encourage the sorting of waste at the point of disposal. This helps us and Cheshire West & Chester Council to ensure as much waste can be properly sorted & recycled. We have a total ban of single use plastic such as straws, cups, bags and balloons. This is the first step we have taken and are looking into further ways we can help deliver a fully sustainable and environmentally friendly event in our city.

 

SGI: How can we better support the LGBT+ community?

WLA: There are many ways, the first is education, becoming an active ally by understanding everyone’s difference. You can be an ally by calling out homophobic behaviour and comments on platforms such as social media, especially challenging what some people may consider as ‘banter’, as this actually has a negative impact on a person’s mental health. What can be seen as innocent banter can be very toxic, especially in workplaces, making someone not feel comfortable or supported in “coming out”. Being visible by supporting events such as Chester Pride, LGBT+ History Month, and Pride season can be a great tool to educate yourself and to show you are an active ally. This may reassure people around us coming to terms with who they are, along with showing support to the out members of our community. As a society we need to celebrate our differences, looking at how differences make us, as a society, stronger together.

 

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