It was 10 years ago, in September 2010, that Sunderland held its first Pride march, a significantly smaller affair than in subsequent years but nonetheless an important milestone; the first step on the road to make the City the inclusive place that it now is. A place I am so very proud of.
On Saturday 13 June, Sunderland should have been marking the 10 year anniversary of Sunderland Pride, with all of the glitz and razzmatazz that surrounds Pride. And, just up the road in Newcastle in July, Northern Pride would have been celebrating a Pride as the host of UK Pride. Milestones and testament to how much more inclusive the City and region have become.
Thanks of course to Covid-19 these events will not now take place.
Whilst we can’t take to the streets and come together in celebration we can, and we should, still celebrate Pride.
Because it’s an important time to acknowledge how far the LGBTQ+ community has come and, as we celebrate the progress made, it’s equally as important to think about how far we have to go – not just in the UK but around the world where members of the LGBTQ+ community still face severe prejudice for simply being themselves.
A lot has changed and improved in Sunderland in the last 10 years and Gentoo’s journey to inclusivity has, in some ways, run parallel alongside that of Pride. Our vision at Gentoo is about strong communities and inspired people, and we truly believe that inclusive communities are stronger and staff can be more inspired in a workplace that enables them to be themselves. We’ve worked hard with colleagues and tenants to promote inclusivity as an active, rather than a passive pursuit, and something to be considered all year round not just at annual events. Our communities deserve our support all year round and we’re committed to maintaining this.
So, whilst we can’t actually come together in celebration and reflection, we must find alternative ways to virtually come together for Pride. In Sunderland we will be holding a virtual Pride event and whilst it won’t be quite the same as in previous years, our colleagues and tenants will wear their rainbow and wave their flags and virtually march together in solidarity, support, celebration and reflection.
Sunderland has made a lot of progress over the last ten years, by working together the City’s anchor organisations have come a long way on our journey to LGBTQ+ inclusivity.
Yes, there is much more yet do to and that’s why Pride is so important, but on this 10th anniversary year I can certainly say that I am so very proud of our City and the role Gentoo plays in it.