🌈 All Together Now: Liverpool Pride
DIVA chat to Liverpool Pride's Lucy Day as she prepares to step down after five fabulous years as chair of the event
In the run up to this year's Liverpool Pride, we caught up with Lucy Day to hear her story, memories, and future-shaped wishes for one of the UK's biggest Pride events.
DIVA: Congratulations on five years as chair of Liverpool Pride, Lucy! What’s been the biggest change since you first began working with the organisation?
LUCY DAY: In Liverpool, having a Pride was not an option but a need – it was the community’s response to the homophobic murder of 18 year old Michael Causer in 2008, and a homophobic attack on PC James Parks in 2009. It was, and still is the city’s way of saying that homophobia and hate crime is not acceptable here.
Throughout the nine years we’ve been in existence, we’ve maintained our position as a volunteer-led grass roots community movement which delivers a free, accessible and inclusive annual event.
One of our patrons is the Bishop of Liverpool which I think is representative of a wider shift in acceptance towards LGBT+ identities from the Church of England, with hopefully other faiths to follow.
Above: Lucy Day.
Another big change has been the support we’ve had from organisations and partners across Liverpool. In 2016 we launched a campaign called Come Out Of The Shadows, where we asked buildings across Liverpool to light up in rainbow colours for the weekend of Pride to show their support for the LGBT+ community and to make a stand against hate crime.
We were overwhelmed by the support, with over 30 buildings across Merseyside lighting up including, Anfield Stadium (home of Liverpool Football club) and St Georges Hall. We even lit The Liver Birds last year!
And more generally, in terms of LGBTQ+ culture?
When the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came in, lots of people assumed it was "job done" and asked what we needed pride for anymore. Since then we’ve had the attack in Orlando, the horrific crimes against LGBT+ people in Chechnya, and a general rise in hate crime across the world, so it’s far from job done.
We have to stand in solidarity with our community whoever they are and wherever they are in the world, and we have to lobby our governments for positive change both here and internationally.
I also think we owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of the LGBT+ people who have come before us and who have fought to get us to where we are today and I think we have a responsibility to take the torch that was lit from events like the Stonewall riots, carry it on and pass it on to future generations of LGBT+ people to go further in terms of equality and acceptance for everyone.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced as part of the Liverpool Pride team?
Similar to other Prides, some of the biggest challenges we face are in terms of ongoing support and funding. There are a lot of health and safety conditions that need to be met with a large scale event and a lot goes on year around behind the scenes in order to make it happen.
It gets harder and harder every year to deliver the event and we’ve been really lucky to work with some very supportive partners. Luckily, we’re not alone in trying to tackle some of these challenges – there is a national UK Pride organisers network (UKPON) which brings all of the prides across the UK together.
And your favourite memory from the last five years?
The best part of every Pride is the march. It’s very emotional to see so many people gathered in one place, marching in solidarity with one and other and being who they want to be. It’s really humbling to be a part of it all.
I remember in 2016, a friend and her daughter, Luna, had come down to Pride for the first time and they were watching the march, so we said, "Come and join us, this march is about all of us!" I asked Luna, (who was six years old at the time) what Pride meant to her and she said, “It means I can be brave enough to be who I want to be and it's somewhere I can show others that they can be brave enough to be who they want to be too. It’s fun and makes me smile to celebrate the ways we are different”.
Her mum Jeneen said, “I tear up whenever I think of the impact Pride has had on our lives. I can walk in that parade and be part of something wonderful. Pride means that whenever Luna faces prejudice, she can remember there’s a crowd as big as the River Mersey behind her.”
Each year we have a group of religious protestors who gather along the march route with placards telling us how ashamed we should be and how abhorrent identifying as LGBT+ is in the eyes of their God. Another fond memory is when one of our very glamourous Liverpool drag queens marched over to one of the religious protesters and gave him the snog of his life!
I’ve never seen anyone look so shocked...
This year's theme is #AllTogetherNow, what's the story behind iy?
Although Pride is by and about LGBT+ people, we're a campaign against prejudice that everyone can take part in - 35% of the people who attended LP last year didn't identify as LGBT+ but they came to show support anyway. Right-wing voices are heard all of the time, but what about the many, many people who are not homo-, trans- or bi-phobic?
Also, we want to campaign against wider prejudice - racism, xenophobia, disablism, misogyny. Liverpool is a vibrant, multi-cultural place and this should be celebrated. We're striving to be a more inclusive, diverse Pride - we're not perfect by any means but we are on the journey. So, however you identify, whatever community you are from, there's a place for you at Liverpool Pride!
Where do you hope Liverpool Pride will be another five years from now?
We hope to be even more established and be able to really make a difference in LGBT+ lives in the city. There's a new generation of activists and artists coming up and we want to both help people on their way and be able to include their unique energy in our festival.
We're planning a Youth Advisory Board as part of the iWill initiative getting young people interested in public service to combat isolation and loneliness, and hope to empower a new generation to make sure Liverpool never goes without a Pride again. We're also reaching out across our region to ensure that young voices are heard and more importantly, listened to.
In five year's time, I hope that the unique local flavour or Liverpool Pride will be even stronger, and that even more people will have been able to help create it.
And most importantly, will you be at this year’s Pride?
I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Liverpool Pride festival takes place on the last weekend of July, in memorial of Michael Causer's anniversary on 2 August. To find out more, visit liverpoolpride.co.uk or follow them on Twitter, @LiverpoolPride
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