As you’ll hopefully know, June is Pride month. Often known as gay pride or LGBTQ pride, June becomes a celebration of self-affirmation, dignity, and equality rights for the LGBTQ community, increasing their visibility as a social group.

Harrogate has been well and truly wrapped in rainbows over the last few weeks, and it’s been wonderful! Pride in Diversity Harrogate was established in 2017 and has blossomed into a wonderful community event and celebration of difference and identity. Harrogate’s pride movement goes beyond LGBTQ and pledges to ‘encompass life and all its diversity’ with goals of empowerment and creating a ‘fully inclusive arena within Harrogate’.

I took my family to join the main Pride Parade on Saturday, and it what quite a spectacle! I was blown away by the number of people wearing and/ or waving rainbows of all shapes and sizes as we marched from Montpelier to Valley Gardens, united in our belief that everyone is welcome in our community. What struck me the most was the number of young people. Harrogate can be criticised for excluding young people and then we can often be quick to judge when something terrible happens involving local youths. In the Valley Gardens on Saturday 15th June it struck me just how many young people had fully engaged in the Pride celebration, many wearing rainbow flags with painted cheeks, hanging out with their friends and clearly feeling relaxed and at ease with their individuality and self. This is rare to see and honestly made me really proud of having something at the heart of the community that brings together our teenagers and creates a safe space where they can have a great time and just be.

Harrogate Theatre’s first Pride Fringe Festival was a triumph this month too. With five shows tackling a range of subjects using film, storytelling and cabaret, audiences were simultaneously entertained, challenged, and moved. Thank you to everyone who joined us over the week. We hope both the Pride Fringe Festival and the partnership with Pride in Diversity Harrogate will continue for many years to come.

Finally, an update for you regarding some fundraising we did recently. Do you remember we held a UK Foo Fighters gig in our main auditorium recently? The event sold out and we had an absolute blast with a few people saying it was probably the loudest show we’ve ever had at Harrogate Theatre! Thankfully, the old building is still standing and this week we proudly presented a cheque to Harrogate Hospital Cardiac Care Unit for £2,438.67. From all of us at Harrogate Theatre a huge THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to making the evening such a success and helping Harrogate Hospital buy some vital new equipment.

First Published in the Harrogate Advertiser on Thursday 20th June.