Birmingham Pride: A celebration with a serious message
May 26 2010 By Lawrence Barton
The annual Birmingham Pride festival offers LGBT groups and individuals a premier platform unrivalled in the West Midlands.
Birmingham Pride is open to all, but especially to LGBT groups to give an open forum to discuss and present not only ideas, but performance and all endeavours of art and expression.
Birmingham Pride offers no distinction between levels of expertise or levels of commitment. This is a paramount concern for organisers and it is through this support we are able to increase our audience.
We do this primarily to allow the wider communities in which we all live, see for themselves all that our festival has to offer and give the idea of a cohesive and integral part of the fabric of the region that is normalised and unthreatening.
Participants who would not normally engage in a wider context are engouraged to, without the fear of prejudice or rancour. This is vital to all those who support us and continue to support our festival year in and year out.
The freedom that Birmingham Pride gives is a beacon to the region and to governing bodies on how important the LGBT voice is. Birmingham Pride is world class in terms of LGBT events and is the only platform where all are invited from any background and network.
Our premier focus is our ability to raise funds for not just the festival but to a range of groups, including LGBT networks and the firefighters benevolent fund, which we are supporting this time around. The support that our festival raises is in conjunction with other events and we offer our support as a major force in the communities we are able to reach
In addition to charities, other beneficiaries are the individuals who can express themselves to an appreciative audience. We are proud to support artists as diverse as the African Drum Band and Samba Band and a host of talent that would not normally have a platform.
Politically, our audience encompasses student activists to professional speakers and forums all working towards inclusion and representation, that is understood and heard beyond the festival itself.
The economic impact on the city is also immense. Research conducted by Marketing Birmingham predicts an income generation of more than £14 million over the weekend. This impacts significantly on retail, hospitality and tourism sector, transport networks and other industries.
We are happy to be one of the high profile events that the city and region has to offer, enhancing its reputation as an unbeatable destination of choice.
Birmingham Pride has developed from its parochial early days, to an event that not only gives support to its community and its talent, but also as an all-encompassing vehicle to celebrate change, diversity, relationships and an appreciation for the envoironment we all live and work in.
Our mantra is inclusion and we are keen to develop Birmingham Pride nationally as a voice that counts.
Birmingham Pride dispels the myth that no voice is heard and re-inforces to our community how important our high profile event is.
We can affect change in our environments, develop a cohesive and fully-educated society of not one particular group, but the many groups that make up our rich and colourful community.
It is vital for our city, our region, and a focus of hope that all can be proud of.
* Lawrence Barton is director of Birmingham Pride and owner of The Village Inn and The Loft Lounge
* Birmingham Pride takes place on May 29 & 30. www.birminghampride.com
* Birmingham LGBT Community Trust www.blgbt.org