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January 25, 2019 0

Happy Valley Pride is an eclectic, alternative and inclusive, week-long festival for everyone. Celebrating LGBT+ life in Hebden Bridge and surrounding areas.  This year, it will be taking place earlier than in previous years, during the week of 22 to 28 July 2019.

Founded in 2015, the festival has rapidly grown in size and stature – last year we attracted over 3,000 attendees across 15 events and 7 days. Set in the stunning location of the Calder Valley (recently recognised in National Geographic’s Cool List 2019) we’ve built an enviable reputation for creating a distinctive, LGBT+ arts-focused programme.

The decision to move the festival was taken to guarantee the calibre of artists and performers now expected of Happy Valley Pride, as the previous dates were close to other key festivals, notably Edinburgh Festival.

Our Chair and Festival Programmer, Tim Whitehead:

“In the last couple of years, we have managed to attract an incredibly diverse and reputable range of artists. Camille O’Sullivan (recently voted in the Top 25 Jools Holland’s performances) headlined last year, due to an unusual change in schedule. In 2016, BBC Radio 4 regular, Zoe Lyons was another coup and a total sell out. We were aware of other artists we’d loved to welcome to Happy Valley Pride, yet missed out simply because they were booked for Edinburgh. We’re now planning a superb week, which we’re excited will offer something special for everyone and offer our best Pride yet.

At the heart of this, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to to the local community and businesses who have supported us in funding the festival, such as local artist, Kate Lycett, whose unique artwork donation attracted national interest via our art auction.”

Which brings us on to the first confirmed event for 2019 – the auspicious return of legendary London-club night, Duckie. Having lured them to Yorkshire from their Vauxhall Tavern residency – last year’s inaugural visit to The Trades Club sold out in 48hrs post-announcement. Its cult cabaret line up of renowned performance artists is bound to guarantee Happy Valley Pride will stand above the Pride crowd.

With a growing Committee of volunteer trustees and loyal festival team, we’ve quickly built a strong reputation and year-round profile via social nights, community involvement and regular Trades’ Club fundraiser nights. Working alongside local schools and other community groups, we seek to raise understanding and acceptance of the LGBT+ community via art projects.

With plenty still to do, those interested in getting involved please visit the ‘Get Involved‘ page for more info.

Camille O’Sullivan performed at Hope Baptist Church for Happy Valley Pride 2018

Kate Lycett’s – Tree of Life which raised funds via our art exhibition and auction in  2018


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March 15, 2019 0
We are now recruiting for Volunteer Trustees to sit on the board and take part in planning and running the festival.
Applications from all would be very happily received, though we would particularly welcome applications from those who identify as trans, lesbian and members of the BAME community, to ensure our board is as widely representative as possible. Candidates with some daytime availability would be particularly welcome.
We are particularly seeking people with strong skills relating to:
– project and/or event management experience;
– fundraising bid writing;
– creative and artistic flair;
 – arts management;
–  education/working with young people
–  technical IT experience;
 – book keeping and finance skills.
Please apply by 4pm, Wednesday 27 March 2019.
We are aiming to appoint by early April.

APPLY NOW


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February 11, 2019 0

Never before have trans and non-binary people been in the spotlight so intently. A day almost never goes by without a news story.

The media in the last few years has shown both documentaries and drama featuring trans people. ‘Leo: Becoming a Trans Man (BBC, 2017), showed the personal journey of a young man in a way that was relatable and showed the everyday struggles of realising one’s true gender. ITV’s ‘Butterfly’ was described as a ‘game changer’ by campaigners, as the often-debated topic of childhood transition was broached in a three-part drama. Complex issues of childbirth and gender identity were explored in the BBC’s ‘The Pregnant Dad’ (2018). This is just a small sample of the myriad programmes, radio broadcasts and newspaper and magazine articles focusing on the trans and non-binary community.

Is all this media exposure and public debate a good thing? It certainly feels that trans visibility is now ‘coming of age’ after many decades. The late Julia Grant’s transition followed on the BBC2 documentary ‘A Change of Sex’ (1979) was one of the first programmes to attempt to explain gender change to a UK audience, when 9 million people tuned in. The public is now aware of trans and non-binary people in a way unparalleled in my lifetime.

So why, as a gay man and trans ally does this searing media exposure and discussion of private identity seems so familiar? Back in the 1980s, with the AIDS crisis in full, horrific effect, gay men and lesbians were the number one scapegoat for all society’s ills. Bisexuals were ignored, a problem both society and the LGBT+ community still need to address, but that’s another blog! We were the vectors of disease, we would unpick the fabric of decency and moral society. We were ‘…swirling around in the cesspit of their own making’ according to ‘God’s Copper’, Manchester’s Chief Constable James Anderton. There was a horrific torrent of abuse and discrimination aimed at a vulnerable community. There was no effective treatment for HIV prior to 1996 when combination therapy arrived, and so HIV/AIDS was effectively a death sentence, the epidemic ‘…became a means of reinforcing existing prejudices and discrimination towards gay men as a whole’ (Jones, 2015). With no legal recognition of partnerships, bereaved people could find they were suddenly homeless as they were not on a mortgage or rent contract and might be excluded from their partner’s funeral by a homophobic family. Lesbians were equally at risk, with no protection from being fired for being LGBT+ and victims of discrimination and violence. The tabloid press revelled in hate speech, with headlines about the ‘Gay Plague’ (Braidwood, 2018).

LGBT+ people in Manchester responded in huge numbers to this climate of hatred, starting in March 1988 ‘Not Going Shopping – Stop the Clause’ (Ward, 2019) with Liberation 1991 and other events characterised by protest and demands to see us as people with human rights first and foremost. This community action it could be argued, began to change public attitudes from an all-time low to the current acceptance of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. This recent history is all too easily forgotten in the party atmosphere of Manchester’s more recent pride events.

It seems to me that, just as LGB people were used as a convenient scapegoat for society’s ills, or as a way of garnering political points, trans and non-binary people are being demonised in exactly the same way. Donald Trump, arguably the most powerful leader on earth has launched an attack on transgender people’s health care, employment and more, with the very existence of trans and non-binary people denied by government (Green, Benner & Pear, 2018).

In the UK, toxic debate has seen women’s rights and trans rights set against one another. No one would argue that women’s rights are secured; almost fifty years since the Equal Pay Act (1970), women still face discrimination and casual misogyny, as well as significant gender pay gaps (Holder et al. 2018). However, trans and non-binary people face extreme levels of discrimination, abuse and casual transphobia. The trans community needs allies to challenge this and support trans and non-binary people’s wellbeing and mental health as they live their lives under often extreme stress. The process of initial transition is challenging enough, with long waiting times for gender identity clinics in excess of two years (Westcott, 2018).

Stonewall reported that trans and non-binary people are likely to experience abuse, with one in eight physically attacked by a colleague or customer at work, a third discriminated against when visiting a café, bar or restaurant and a quarter of trans people in a relationship experiencing domestic abuse. (Bachmann & Gooch, 2017).

With this extreme level of discrimination and violence, relentless press attention and political venom, I feel we have a moral responsibility to stand with our trans and non-binary siblings. After all, it has always been trans people of colour, those facing double discrimination, who have sparked profound change for the LGBT+ community. Icons such as Martha P. Johnson, present at the Stonewall riots, which gave the UK charity its name, rubbed shoulders with butch lesbians, male sex workers and homeless youth (Schlaffer, 2016). Martha was murdered in 1992, a crime ignored by the law enforcement agency (Lee, 2017). It is, of course true that cis-women are discriminated against, raped and murdered too. However, the risk to trans and non-binary people is extraordinarily high, and the sheer volume of crimes should shock us all. 

Amidst the intellectual discussions of women’s rights versus trans rights, it is important to remember that this is notan intellectual discussion, it affects the everyday experiences of trans and non-binary people. Just as in the 1980s and 1990s LGB people were discussed as if they were a sexual oddity, ‘perverts’ dehumanised with no real right to a place in modern society, so trans and non-binary people are discussed today. This impacts on people’s self-respect, and therefore their mental health. Negative attitudes directly lead to an increase in discrimination, violence and murder; we must take responsibility for recognising this as a first step to changing society, just as we have done previously with LGB rights.

I strongly believe that trans and non-binary people have no choice in their gender identity, in the same way I have no choice about my sexuality. To deny one’s true self is crippling, and often fatal. We must made gender diversity as socially acceptable as the diversity in sexuality if everyone is to live lives that reach their full potential. We also have a debt to trans and non-binary people for their key role is helping us as LGB people to achieve legal equality and acceptance by society.

So, what have you done to support your trans and non-binary siblings lately?

Sean Pert

*”Stand By Your Trans”

Following Kate O’Donnell’s inspiring performance and participation during Happy Valley Pride 2018, we embarked on a local poster campaign, across Hebden Bridge and our surrounding Calderdale towns, in support of Kate/Trans Creative’s stance to #StandByYourTrans


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February 4, 2019 2

As part of LGBT History month 2019, we’re sharing personal stories of significant, life-changing moments of acceptance or understanding from our local LGBT+ community.

“Shall not promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

Local Government Act, 1988 – Prohibition on promoting homosexuality by teaching or by publishing material.
Chris Park

 Put yourself in the place of a 13 year old in the Lake District in 1988. The world was in the midst of the AIDS crisis and homophobic articles were common in the national press.

I was the 13 year old that Mrs Thatcher was trying to “protect”. Sadly for her it had the opposite effect.

 Gay rights didn’t make it to the Lakes, so TV was the only connection to the outside world. Bringing this revolting clause presented a call to arms, organisations like Stonewall appeared and words Gay and Pride were bandied around. I’d always known I was different but now I wasn’t alone.

It couldn’t have been a better signpost for me, if Margaret T thought homosexuality was wrong, it must be right. 

That isn’t to say I had an easy time of it. The 80s were dark and by bringing homophobia to the masses, we all copped it one way or another. 

Section 28 was only repealed 15 years ago. We need to remember that our previous Prime Minister was incredibly vocal in keeping it until he did a U-turn in 2009. Our current “leader” has consistently voted against LGBT rights. 

As for Section 28, we should never forget or we will allow prejudice like this to thrive again. As for its effectiveness, sorry Mrs T, but this gay wasn’t for turning. 


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Bourgois & Maurice

August 20, 2018 0

So, when I arrived in Hebden Bridge back in 2003, if you mentioned ducks, it was in the context of the quaint tradition of the busiest day of the year, where a river of yellow plastic ducks are chucked into the river and encouraged to compete with the real ones, on a short journey down river, every Easter Bank Holiday. Let’s not knock it, it draws crowds annually. But this year, we re-defined Duckie in Hebden Bridge.

The anticipation was palpable.  As soon as it was announced, tickets sold out in just 48 hours. The Trades already having a reputation for hosting some of the best nights this side of the Pennines, joining forces with a club night that has successfully ran for over two decades. It was the perfect combination of people, place and undoubtedly, occasion.

Happy Valley Pride’s loyal contingent is a true mixed tribe. Often commented on is the fact that so many have ‘escaped’ the city to move here, renounced by many locals as ‘oftcummers’ – it’s always a balancing act.  Being part of the community, whilst nostalgically reflecting on a misspent youth in the UK’s cities.  And for the LGBT+ community in particular, that obviously comes with a doubtless, crumpled ticket to the clubs of the 90’s and 00’s.

So, did it live it to expectations.  As they say in Yorkshire, “By gum”, it did.  Outfits were planned, yet discarded on arrival due to the first big downpour in weeks, coinciding with a crammed and sauna-like dance floor.  Monster Munch hanging from the ceiling and Readers Wifes playing long-forgotten tunes.  It was reminiscent of Narnia meets Nightmare on Elm Street.  Dark, sexy, tribal.

Interspersed with brilliantly original cabaret performances from Bourgeois & Maurice (last year’s sell out), new friends, Barbara Brownskirt – (“Judy, Judy, Judy …. Dench” is STILL being repeated as a highlight), Victoria Sin – who knew sandwich-making could be an art form and finally the vision of Ursula Martinez streaking down Holme Street will live on as legendary.

We didn’t want it to end, but of course it had to and it all felt like a dream. There’s talk of turning the tables, with rumours of a road trip – Happy Valley Pride Goes to Duckie.  We’re already clicking those red heels and channeling Dorothy ‘There’s no place like Duckie’.

It was reminiscent of Narnia meets Nightmare on Elm Street.  Dark, sexy, tribal.


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July 6, 2018 0

Welcome to this first blog from the Happy Valley Pride Youth Engagement Committee!

David Kennedy and Sean Pert look back at the last few weeks, getting local children and young people involved in the festival through art.

David and I have been busy talking to local schools about Happy Valley Pride and this year’s theme of ‘Revolution!’

Video

We developed a presentation telling everyone about our theme and what the competition involves.
Watch the video here: Video about Happy Valley Pride’s Art Competition 2018

Riverside Junior School

Our first stop on Monday 18th June was Riverside Junior School, Hebden Bridge. Mrs Taylor introduced us to the children and we talked about how to get over the message of LGBT+ people being part of the community and everyone living in harmony. Some comments from the children were “Art is a language” and “Revolution is a big change”. Several children were able to tell us about LGBT+ people they were related to, and knew, and they wanted us to know that Mrs Taylor was “Good at helping with Art”.
We can’t wait to present the winners with their certificates on Thursday 19th July!

Art is a language

Todmorden High School

Next stop was Todmorden High School on Wednesday 27th June. We were lucky enough to view some of the pupils’ work in the gallery before meeting one of the classes. Mr Freeman, Head of Art led a fascinating discussion of art and how this might be used to convey equality. Some of the young people were shocked to hear that LGBT+ people might still encounter prejudice and discrimination. A spray painting display of revolutionary themed flags is to be expected!

Have you ever experienced discrimination because you’re gay?

Central Street Infant and Nursery School

It’s never too early to think about equality and that we are all different in some ways and the same in many others. At Central Street Infant and Nursery School our very own much loved volunteer Ms Tregellas is one of the school’s teachers and the children will be making colourful and attractive designs and pictures as part of the competition.

The festival display

The flags decorated by local children and young people will form part of the display at the Expo on Saturday 11th August 2018. The flags and banners can also be seen at the Picnic in the Park on Sunday 12th August 2018. See the programme for details.

Join in the fun

Are you a school in the Calder Valley keen to get your pupils’ artistic skills shine? We are keen to involve children and young people in Happy Valley Pride to show what a vibrant, welcoming and fun place the valley is to live. We run an annual art competition as part of the festival and our in-house artist David Kennedy is available to come along and talk about how art transformed homophobic graffiti into a work of art spreading love and acceptance.

We have an Enhanced DBS and can help your school with thinking about preventing bullying and promoting the acceptance and understanding of diversity.

Get in touch!


We’ve come such a long way, but equality is still somewhere over the rainbow.

Tim Whitehead

July 3, 2018 0

 

Gay couples hold hands too – join the revolution

Our programme cover was well timed. Conceived before today’s headline news – reminding the world that holding hands in public is still not accepted for gay people.  This year’s theme – Revolution – is all about how attitudes towards the LGBT+ community have undergone a revolution of their own in the past five decades, but there is still work to be done.

Our newly appointed patron, Peter Tatchell, was recently detained at the Kremlin, for protesting persecution against gay people in Russia and only last year Stonewall announced that hate crime against the LGBT+ community has risen 80% in the UK since 2013.

Very recently I was sat outside a pub in Hebden Bridge with friends and some passers-by made casual homophobic comments. We’ve come such a long way, but equality is still somewhere over the rainbow.

So, holding hands – the cover of this year’s programme brochure – represents something that is still a revolutionary act for many LGBT+ people — simply holding hands in public.

I’d like to ask as many of you as possible, however you identify, to hold hands during Pride, whether it’s with your best friend, your partner, your child or your parent.

Let’s hold hands and spread a revolution of love throughout Hebden Bridge and the surrounding areas.

Be here, be you, be proud!

Tim

Full programme and tickets will be available weekend of 7/8 July


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June 7, 2018 6
Happy Valley Pride are always looking for enthusiastic volunteers to help with our festival.  The dates for this year’s festival are 22nd to 28th July 2019.
As a volunteer, you’ll be an important part of the team who will be helping pull together a variety of events happening during the course of the week, with all hands on deck over the main weekend of 27th and 28th July.
If you feel you’d enjoy making a difference and have skills you think we’d welcome to help us pull this thing off or the enthusiasm to want to learn and get stuck in, get in touch.
We can discuss how much or little volunteering your time and energy allows.
If you are passionate about the LGBT+ community and want to help us make a difference, we would love for you to become part of the team.

APPLY NOW


Camille O'Sullivan
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Bourgeois & Maurice
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May 26, 2018 0

Now in its third year, the festival will be united by a Revolution theme with performances, art and outdoor entertainment.

A strong theme, with their best headliners yet, who have eagerly signed up to participate in the revolution, recognising the unique flavour of Happy Valley Pride’s tone in a town that does things differently.  The festival will provide world-class entertainment throughout the week bringing class acts and clubbing together. Headliners already booked to appear are:

Duckie – Legendary London Club Night @ The Trades Club, Saturday 11th August

Whilst most club nights last a few years, Duckie has happened every week for 23 years. For the first time EVER, the original Vauxhall veterans bring their rock’n’roll performance disco-bar to Yorkshire on Saturday 11 August to The Trades Club.  Legendary DJ’s, The London Reader’s Wifes will be joined on stage by Happy Valley Pride favourites’ Bourgeois & Maurice, drag artist Victoria Sin and comedian Barbara Brownskirt.

Camille O’Sullivan @ Hope Baptist Church, Friday 10th August

Irish/French Camille O’Sullivan is now an internationally-renowned singer with a formidable reputation for her interpretations of the songs of Cave, Brel, Waits, Bowie, Cohen, Radiohead and more. She has stunned audiences around the world, including a ten-night, award-winning run of shows at Sydney Opera House; London’s Royal Festival Hall; The Roundhouse. The Telegraph recently named Camille one of the top 25 performances of all time on the BBC’s Later with Jools Holland BBC.

Ursula Martinez – Comedy and Performance Artist @ Hebden Bridge Little Theatre, Thursday 9th August

An established international artist, regularly supported by the British Council, Ursula Martinez produces live performance, both solo and collaborative, for theatre, cabaret, site-specific, installation and nightclub. She will present her critically acclaimed show Free Admission which celebrates the inconsistencies and contradictions that make us human, whilst having a dig at some of the mess that is of our own making.

Newly-appointed Chair, Tim Whitehead said “We believe Revolution gives a soul-stirring theme, which will fire up our festival visually, artistically and create comradery amongst our festival performers and supporters.”

Tickets and full programme details to be announced in June 2018


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April 29, 2018 0

In this, our third year, we are delighted to announce, our annual art exhibition, which will continue to be a key part of the festival, running throughout August.  We are now welcoming local artists to help support our organisation, with donations of artwork, working on personal interpretations to align with this year’s theme – REVOLUTION.

Held at Nelsons Wine Bar, we have grown year on year, with last year’s exhibits, supporting our LGBT+ Heroes theme. Submissions raised the bar, both in quality and also gained significant, further publicity and funds.

The Revolution ‘theme’, will continue to coordinate our involvement with other local organisations across Hebden Bridge, building up to the festival, which last year included being part of the Arts Festival ‘tree trail’ and creating a competition to reward local primary school children for their creations.  

We believe, Revolution offers an equally, soul-stirring and strong theme, which will galvanise those artistic souls amongst you, to help make 2018’s exhibition another thought-provoking and visually inspiring talking point throughout the festival and beyond.

All forms of artwork will be considered, whether it be sculpture (not too big please), ceramic, 3D, Textile, Acrylic, oil, pencil and ink. However, we would ask that artists who kindly donate their work, are willing to donate all proceeds generated by the sale to our not-for-profit organisation.

Our Exhibition Opening Event will take place at Nelson’s Wine Bar in Hebden Bridge on There will be live music from local performer Magdalen.

***STOP PRESS*** We are proud to feature an original piece by renowned local artist Kate Lycett, specifically created for Happy Valley Pride. This wonderful artwork will be auctioned alongside other items and winning bids will be revealed at the Pink Picnic on Sunday. Further announcements will be made on social media.

Closing Date Extended to Friday 13th July

David Anthony Kennedy

david@happyvalleypride.com