Rainbow colours and celebrations: Here’s what happened at York Pride 2023
At York Pride, I felt loved and welcomed for who I was
This year, the eagerly-anticipated, city-wide Pride celebrations in York were held on Saturday 3rd June, kicking off Pride Month 2023.
On this day, the historical city played host to a colourful, welcoming, diverse, and inclusive parade that began at York Minster, snaking through the cobblestone streets of the city until it reached the Knavesmire (at York Racecourse). Here, the celebrations continued with an outdoor festival, complete with fairground rides, live music, food-vendors, and stalls selling various LGBTQIA+ themed products.
The entire event had such a welcoming and accepting atmosphere, and the summer sun shone brightly down on the singing, dancing, rejoicing crowd, adorned with every colour of the rainbow. In fact, the atmosphere at the entire event was so loving and accepting that I shed a tear of happiness and pride . . . while I was standing in the queue for the fish-and-chip van (no, seriously). It was a beautiful moment of feeling loved, and feeling supported and welcomed for who I truly was.
Those who marched in the parade, including Uni of York representatives from various colleges, as well as representatives from local and independent businesses, embodied the very definition of ‘Pride’: wrapped in LGBTQIA+ flags, and waving handheld rainbow flags, those who participated in the parade gleamed as brightly as the sunshine that embraced them in its support that Saturday afternoon.
A ‘Pride bus’ led the parade against a wonderful auditory backdrop of drums, whistles, and cheering from the crowds, as a snaking stretch of rainbow flag weaved through York’s cobblestone streets. On either side of the traversing parade, delighted pedestrians, young and old, from across all generations, lined the roads, their rejoicing voices of love and support contributing to the cheers of pride and joy that rung out from the parade. It was heart-warming to see so many children cheer and offer supportive words for the participants of the parade as it passed by, demonstrating that these children have been rightly taught that they are beautiful, no matter who they love, how they love, or how they identify.
Gleeful dancing and singing ensued as the parade passed by a women’s community choir, a Pikachu mascot, and residents of the Knavesmire region, who wonderfully serenaded the passing parade with both a bubble-machine and a playlist of iconic queer anthems.
The fun didn’t stop after the parade. Once the parade arrived at the Knavesmire, Pride flags of all colours and identities dotted the festival-site. A diverse range of organisations demonstrated solidarity and support for the LGBTQIA+ community, including food-vendors, animal and wildlife charities, merchandise stalls, face-painters, pop-up photobooths, and local public services, such as First Bus, YO1 Radio, Yorkshire Police and York City Council.
It was incredible to see such a wide variety of businesses and organisations displaying this support, respect, and solidarity for the LGBTQIA+ community.
In a video posted on the York Pride Instagram page, Wayne Chadwick, representing YO1 Radio, said that “YO1 Radio [were] delighted, again, to be the radio partners of York Pride 2023. Pride is all about inclusivity, irrespective of somebody’s sexual orientation.”.
Similarly, Donavan Hutchinson, representing Trustmarque (another sponsor of York Pride 2023) said, in a video posted on the York Pride Instagram page: “Trustmarque is honoured to be sponsoring this year’s Pride event and showing our support for the LGBTQIA+ communities, and their right to celebrate their identities. We believe that everybody should be able to live their lives as their most authentic selves, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Discrimination and intolerance are still very prevalent in our world today, which is why we support events like Pride. It’s an opportunity to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ communities, and to celebrate the progress that we have made towards a more inclusive society, but it’s also a reminder that there is so much more work to be done. (…) To the members of the LGBTQIA+ communities and its allies, we want you to know that you have our support. We recognise your struggles and your triumphs, and we stand with you in your fight for equality.”.
At the festival, delighted shrieks rang out from the exhilarating fairground rides as spectators surrounding the Main Stage were treated to an entire afternoon of live music from singers and performances from beloved local drag queens.
As the evening arrived, the famous faces of Kimberly Wyatt (a former member of the pop-R&B girl-group The Pussycat Dolls) and Claire Richards (well-known for her membership in the dance-pop group Steps) even took to the York Pride Main Stage.
Everyone at both the parade and the festival were so supportive, warm and friendly. At each and every stall I visited, I felt loved and welcomed for who I was, and I wished each stall I visited a happy Pride as my friends and I moved between the vendors, the Main Stage and the fairground, exploring the various colourful areas of the festival-site. I enjoyed delicious food, namely a box of cheesy chips and a crepe with toppings of lemon and sugar (don’t call me boring for that, please) from the food-vendors, and I purchased the Pride flags and a whistle hanging from a Pride flag lanyard that corresponded to my identity. Then, my friends and I sung along to the live music from the Main Stage while we soaked up the glorious, warm sunshine, laughing and enjoying each other’s company all afternoon.
One first-year Uni of York student in attendance said: “Everyone just came together, and everyone was so supportive of everyone else. There were so many different Pride flags, and so many different identities represented, at both the parade and the festival.”
We spent all day browsing the adorable stalls, purchasing not only some tasty food, but also colourful memorabilia as mementos of the Pride event. The stalls at Pride also gave attendees the chance to support small, local businesses.
I genuinely couldn’t have wished for a lovelier, more incredible first Pride. It was, by far, one of the best days of my uni life (and my life, in general) so far.