I am a gay boy

March 1, 2016 0
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The story begins back in the summer of 2015, before we, the four founders of Happy Valley Pride, had met each other, before the first meeting had been arranged, before evening after evening had been spent strategising, organising, creating; before anybody had uttered the words: Happy Valley Pride.

“J** is a gay boy”

In fact, the words that brought us together were quite the opposite: “J** is a gay boy”. The words were enormous, sprayed boldly in black on a piece of tarpaulin in the town centre; a sentence that really shouldn’t have negative connotations but which one must assume had not been written as a positive assertion of somebody’s sexuality.

By word-of-mouth within the close-knit community, the four of us discovered we shared the same sense of outrage and disappointment at the use of a phrase that we thought had become an anachronism years ago. This phrase, that harks back to the fear mongering homophobia of 80’s media, and that we certainly didn’t expect to see in Hebden Bridge, needed to be talked about.

Cleaning the artwork prior to it being painted

It appeared that even within this most liberal, open-minded, wonderful town, there was still a portion of society that was lacking the understanding and acceptance to allow somebody to be free to be themselves, regardless of their sexuality or gender, without judgement or persecution. Acknowledging and supporting the incredible work of local LGBTQ support groups, and with a steely determination to focus on love not hate, us four newly acquainted friends decided to turn a negative into a positive.

The first Happy Valley Pride board meeting took place in September 2015, when we agreed upon a mission statement that outlined the fundamental purpose of our union:

“to promote and support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer rights and issues within the Calderdale area.”

A mixture of local business people, artists, writers and entrepreneurs, we began to lay the foundations for a brand new Pride festival, and the tarpaulin was to become the main attraction.

It was decided that, with the help of some local artists, we were going to graffiti over the graffiti, and turn the statement into one of celebration and acceptance. We began to transform the tarpaulin into an piece of interactive artwork that would be presented at a launch night for our organisation, and attendees would be asked to contribute with their own positive messages. It was to be a celebration of the power of the people over anti social behaviour, and a firm foundation to launch Happy Valley Pride.

Now, with just over two weeks to go until the official launch of Happy Valley Pride, we are almost ready to display our work, and introduce ourselves to you all. We’re nervous, excited, but most importantly we are extremely proud of our organisation, and we can’t wait to share it with you at Macphelah Mill on 19th March 2016. We look forward to seeing you there.

Love
Team Happy Valley Pride

Mike Stephens

Mike is the founder and a director of Ayup Digital a creative digital agency in Yorkshire. Mike has over 10 years of industry experience, utilising web technologies to help clients improve their brand, communications and ROI. Mike has been volunteering with Manchester Pride since 2011 and has recently moved to Hebden Bridge with his partner. He is also the IT Director at TEDxSalford, one of the largest independent TED events in Europe.


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