“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.
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Section 28 was only repealed 15 years ago.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.
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.
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.
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!’
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
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
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?
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 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.
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.
We’ve come such a long way, but equality is still somewhere over the rainbow.Tim Whitehead
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.
Full programme and tickets will be available weekend of 7/8 July
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
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
** UPDATE** Due to a great response – we will be bringing the closing date for applications forward to Friday 27th April. Please get in touch ASAP, if you are considering applying.
Happy Valley Pride is Calderdale’s annual LGBT+ festival, promoting inclusivity and diversity for and amongst, the LGBT+ community.
We are now recruiting for two Trustees to sit on the board and take part in planning and running the festival.
Applications from all would be happily received, though we would particularly welcome applications from those who identify as trans or lesbian and from members of the BAME community, to ensure our board is as widely representative as possible.
Skills that we are particularly seeking include:
As with all trustee roles within the organisation, this is a voluntary position. The commitment is generally two evening meetings, per month though this increases around the festival itself (6th to 12th August 2018).
To apply, please email mailto:email@example.com outlining your suitability, along with a CV (if possible).
Further information is also available upon request – we look forward to hearing from you. Deadline for applications is 30th April 2018.
Photo Credit: Joan Heath