Walsall PRIDE will be an altogether different celebration this August Bank Holiday Weekend when, for the first time ever, it goes entirely virtual. Lockdown regulations and difficulty in planning for the event meant that, whilst it was a difficult decision to make, organisers were forced to cancel the outdoor event in August.
The event, which began in 2012 with around 300 attendees, has grown significantly over the past eight years and in 2019 boasted a footfall in excess of 2,000 and a footprint that extended to Park Street, a second stage added and saw temporary licensing for Gallery Square.
With growth of that kind organisers felt it was essential that those in LGBT community, many of whom rely on the event as a safe space, still had the opportunity to come together in a safe and supportive environment, even if it was to be a virtual one.
This year Walsall PRIDE will stream across Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Twitter simultaneously on Saturday, August 29th in three parts: from 12noon there will be two online stories for families to enjoy, followed by the main event starting at 1pm, which features an incredible line-up that includes Nikki Belle, Jo O’Meara (of S-Club 7) and Rozzala amongst others, followed by DJ Sets for the third part.
Pulling all of this together in such a short time and under current circumstances has not been easy. Matt Higgins, one of the organising trustees of Walsall Pride, explained: “People look forward to our event, a place where they feel safe and can socialise together. We did not want to let the LGBT+ and wider community down. It’s been a mammoth task with numerous phone calls to previous acts, calling in of favours and we’ve had amazing support from people across the borough and from within the wider LGBT+ community.”
Matt also paid tribute to Walsall for All, one of the events key funders as well as this year’s Headline Sponsor Homeserve: “Walsall Council and Walsall for All have been fantastic in their support of PRIDE since its inception in 2012 and this year has been no exception, without their continued funding we would never have got this year’s Virtual PRIDE off the ground. I want to thank our other sponsors too - Asda, Vodafone, LGBT Game and Best of Walsall who have continued to support the event, monies raised will help to stage this year’s virtual event as well as going towards next year’s festival which will be bigger and better than ever when we celebrate 10 years of Walsall Pride in 2021.”
Councillor Garry Perry, Portfolio Holder for Culture and Communities, said: “Sadly COVID-19 has forced many usual outdoor activities to be cancelled – as organisers have searched for other means of delivery it is a huge credit to Walsall PRIDE for continuing their online event over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Popular with many across Walsall, Walsall PRIDE provides an opportunity to recognise the LGBTQ living in our diverse Borough – a safe space to meet, socialise and promote key messages essential to cohesion in Walsall.”
For more information on this year’s event and to take part head over to www.walsallpride.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.