Saturday 2nd September, the day of Reading Pride, dawned bright and clear and as we arrived at Kings Meadow to unload there was alread
y a lovely cheery atmosphere developing. We had boxes of postcards, rainbow flags, stickers, lanyards, mini prospectuses and events guides plus our banners and the wonderful picture boards developed to support events to mark the Wolfenden anniversary. Plus a box of red t-shirts for volunteers to wear!
We were quickly set up and most of us were able to carry or follow the large RUSU University of Reading rainbow banner along the march from the station, through town and back to Kings Meadow. We had taken bags of lanyards, stickers and small rainbow flags to give out to people as we passed and it was wonderful to hear that the march was estimated to be about 1,500 participants compared to 800 last year.
Once back in Kings Meadow, we were very active as a team ensuring that virtually every single person at the event had either a UoR rainbow flag, sticker or lanyard!
We gave out mini prospectuses to the many groups of young people who were in secondary school or college groups. We were visited by people who were keen to tell us that they attended Reading University and also some very excited freshers who were thrilled to see that we had such a large stall with so many enthusiastic and well informed volunteers. It was also lovely to see the smiling familiar faces of current staff and current students and others from the growing Thames Valley LGBT+ network.
The theme of Reading Pride this year was ‘Love Unites’; we were placed very close to the main stage and heard speeches from representatives of the transgender, asexual, Muslim and leather communities as well as the organising committee emphasising how love unites and it is important to show love and kindness in the face of the bigotry in wider society in current times. The market place had a wide variety of stalls representing local charities, community organisations, faith groups, sports clubs, political parties and a wide range of support groups. There was also a good range of good stalls that were familiar from our own International Food Thursdays and vendors of bright festival wear!
The LGBT+ staff network co-chairs, Dr Calvin Smith and Dr Deb Heighes would like to thank the large group of volunteers from the LGBT+ staff and Allies network and the RUSU Diversity officer, Leen Alnajjab, and Welfare officer, Rose Lennon. Tips for next year? Don’t forget string, gaffer tape and scissors are essential; book the sunshine to ensure a great turnout; and take an unofficial mascot! Having Eddie the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel made the volunteers very happy and encouraged more people to stop and talk.