Bourn Hall is proud to be a sponsor of Essex Pride.
Essex Pride is going to be a real celebration of life this year, says Chair Garry Ormes. He has seen the event grow from a party at Smiths Bar, where he was the manager, to a festival attracting 4,500 people. Essex Pride will take place on 21st August 2021 at Central Park in Chelmsford.
“It started as a safe space for the LGBT+ community, for likeminded people to make friends and enjoy entertainment, like drag queens,” Garry remembers. “It became so popular that it overspilled into a street party and after a few years it had outgrown the space.”
For many people their first Pride experience is a landmark moment, their first time of being publicly out and during the pandemic this has been put on hold.
Pride is also an opportunity to gain support and information to take the next step on their journey. For some this might include preserving their fertility ahead of gender reassignment or starting a family as a single person or gay couple; Bourn Hall will be there to give information about your options.
Even as a digital event in 2020, Essex Pride attracted over 3,000 people, so this year it will be loud and colourful with a good mix of entertainment, including Essex girl Cheryl Hole from RuPaul’s Drag Race, throwback acts like B*Witched and Nadine Coyle, circus acts and an Essex Pride dog show – which is always popular. “We like to include our pets” Garry smiles.
Although a celebration, Pride also has a serious message, explains Garry: “I think the biggest thing about it is that it helps to educate and give people an understanding that regardless of who you love, we should all be accepted and feel that we can live our lives without prejudice or judgement. If I want to hold my male partner’s hand I should be able to do that without looking over my shoulder or worry that someone is going to attack you.”
The catalyst for Pride was the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969, when police raided a gay club. It became a movement to raise visibility for people’s right to love and identify in a way that is authentic with who they are.
“The event has changed people’s perceptions of Chelmsford. They have seen what a diverse and accepting place it is,” says Garry. “I am very proud that when Chelmsford won its bid for City status in 2012 Essex Pride was included as part of the bid application.
“We decided to become Essex-wide, to try to eliminate that sense of isolation and of being alone that is easy to experience if you live in one of the smaller towns or villages and haven’t found your tribe.
“There are so many people who are on that journey of discovering who they are, questioning their sexual identity. Having this big event that takes place in Essex sends the message that it is okay to be who you are. They come along to Pride and things become a little bit clearer for them, they have validation, and it can help in that next stage if they feel ready to talk about it with their family and friends.
“If they feel that they have accepted their identity and can understand who they are, they are then able to outwardly live that life and be themselves. If you are not able to express who you are it can bring on all kinds of mental illness and problems.
“This information gathering is why it is so important to have organisations like Bourn Hall there and we are delighted it has become a sponsor too.
“Bourn Hall helps people have families – one of the things which is really important for Pride is to give people access to information. If I am an LGBT+ person thinking about having children, how can I go about that? What are my options? I am really pleased that Bourn Hall will be there in the ‘showcase arena’ where you enter the event.”
Jackie Richardson, Senior Fertility Nurse Specialist at Bourn Hall, will be staffing the stand at Essex Pride. She says that there are many options for LGBT+ people and also decisions to be made.
She says: “It is never too early to talk about your fertility options. For transgender people considering gender reassignment this discussion should start at puberty as decisions about hormone treatments may impact your fertility.
“For same-sex female couples there are many options for treatment that we can talk through and how these are impacted by your age and health. Same-sex male couples will require the support of a surrogate to carry the pregnancy and there are also fertility preservation options for trans people.
“The thing I would say is that there is no question you can’t ask. If it is something that is concerning you then Essex Pride is a good place to start a conversation and all of us at Bourn Hall are delighted to be involved.”
Get tickets for Essex Pride 2021 at essexpride.org.