Rainbow flags wave high as Portsmouth’s LGBT+ community celebrates Pride for the first time since the pandemic

‘EVERYONE can be themselves’ is the message at Portsmouth Pride today as the city celebrates in the glorious sunshine.

Sunday, 12th June 2022, 9:10 am

Southsea Common is awash with rainbows, from giant flags waving in the air to stickers and badges adorning people’s clothing.

Members of the LGBT+ community are showing their Pride and celebrating their identities alongside other Portsmouth residents and visitors to the city.

This is the first time the annual celebration has been held in person following a break due to the pandemic.

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Luc Deschanel and Andrew McDougall, right. Portsmouth Pride, Southsea Common. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 110622-18)

Many revellers are wearing Pride flags as capes or skirts, and several of the happy faces enjoying the weather are brightly painted with rainbows and glitter.

Following the parade, which kicked off at 11am, musicians are now performing to the picnicking crowds as visitors wander through stalls and enjoy fairground rides.

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Laura and Lucy Burden-Smith were enjoying the sunshine with their children Jude, Linus, and one-year-old St. John.

From left: Jessica Berryman, Heather Stirling, and Bee Patrick. Picture: Emily Turner

Jude and Linus are twins, but born one day apart, meaning that while Jude is celebrating his fourth birthday today, brother Linus must wait until tomorrow.

Laura said: 'We are really pleased to be here. We've always done it as a family. It's family fun.

'It's nice seeing other families like ours, as well as seeing others too.'

Couple Rachel Spinlaw and Dawn Lee are taking part in Pride today along with their friend Sian Wiltshire.

Laura (left) and Lucy Burden-Smith, with their children (from left) Linus, Jude, and St. John. Picture: Emily Turner

Sian said: 'It's brilliant to be at Pride. Everyone can be themselves today.'

Dawn added: 'It's nice feeling the same as everyone else.'

Reverend Hannah Barraclough from Portsmouth Cathedral was holding a sign saying ‘God made us fabulous’.

She said: 'It's amazing to be here, I'm bisexual so to be out and send a message of a God of love and the church being a safe place is important.

Reverend Hannah Barraclough. Picture: Emily Turner

'We want it to be inclusive and for people to feel safe - and encourage people to be proud of who they are.'

Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, addressed the crowd as he asked people to show support for his campaign to deliver a full ban on conversion therapy.

He said: ‘Pride says to Portsmouth people, Britain and the world: be yourself.

‘After two long years, I’m delighted Portsmouth Pride is finally taking place in person so that our city can come together again to celebrate the strength of Portsmouth’s LGBT+ community, and to be involved by joining the parade, speaking on the main stage and hosting a pop-up stall.’

He added that conversion practices, which seek to change, “cure”, or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, are ‘abhorrent’ and ‘abuse’.

Paula Ann Savage at Stephen Morgan MP's stall. Picture: Emily Turner

Stephen said: ‘As well as speaking to fellow residents, community groups and local businesses taking part in today’s event, constituents have the opportunity to send a message loud and clear to Ministers that they expect Government to ban conversion therapy in all its forms.

‘At my Pride stall I’ve been asking people to send a postcard to the equalities minister to ensure government doesn't break their promise to the British people and deliver its commitment on equality.’

While the MP spoke to visitors at his stall, Labour community activist Paula Ann Savage was promoting the call for a trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban.

She said: 'The main thing is the church is getting people to pray for people who are gay, as if they can "cured" from it.

'We all need to be loved, and we shouldn't discriminate against anyone.

'I have family members who didn't come out until they were in their 30s - they were worried about the family. That makes me so sad.'

Charlotte Lawrence, joint secretary of the Portsmouth branch of the National Education Union, is hosting a stall with her colleagues as they promote the union’s ‘Inclusion, not exclusion’ campaign.

She said: 'We are here as we are a union representing teachers, teaching staff in schools.

'We advocate for LGBT inclusive education.

'We've seen some positive changes since we went to school, but we want to see better trans representation, more role models in school

'The message is it's okay to be who you are.'

Several team members from the charity Beyond Reflections, which works to support trans people and their families, were in attendance.

Ivy Burrows, who has been a group member for about three years, explained that the groups 'help us to manage our transitions'.

She added: 'I know so many trans people feel that having a group to support them is just fantastic.

'It's really helped me.

'I've made some incredible new friends - everyone is so supportive.

'If you think you might be trans or queer, there are groups who can support you.

'Having the space where you can share and learn and grow together is vital.'

Abigail Parker is project and events manager for the charity, as well as a volunteer.

She said: 'We're a mental wellbeing charity. We offer support groups, wellbeing sessions and counselling, as well as trans awareness training.

'It's really important to be out there and supporting people. The work we do is life changing.'

Among those Pride attendees wandering the stall was Gareth and Sarah Cabourn Davies, with little Robin in pram.

Sarah said: 'It's lovely to see everyone be what they are.

'It's a really lovely, friendly place to be.'

Friends Bee Patrick, Heather Stirling, and Jessica Berryman were also amongst the crowds.

Bee, who is sporting a rainbow dyed hairdo, said: 'It's good to be here. I was going to dye my hair anyway but because it's Pride I thought, why not.'

From left: Sian Wiltshire, Rachel Spinlaw, and Dawn Lee. Picture: Emily Turner
From left: Robin (in pram), Gareth, and Sarah Cabourn Davies. Picture: Emily Turner