The flags are out, the bunting’s up and shop windows are dazzling with rainbow colours and messages of support – the town centre is all set for the first Pride in Belper event this Saturday, August 3.
Sarah Barley-McMullen, an academic at the University of Derby who has chaired the organising committee, said: “Everyone is welcome to come along and help us celebrate in our wonderful town.
“We are not being inclusive as a way to identify difference in the town, this is about celebrating its diversity.”
She added: “But really we are celebrating everyone, not separating them out. We’re all human and we all matter. This is a chance for us all to come together and enjoy ourselves while being respectful, fair and kind.”
Town mayor Simon Mallett, his consort Mary Dwyer, and Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa, will open the event just before noon when the Golden Rainbows, an over-50s LGBT+ residents group, lead a ‘Strutt with Pride’ from Belper Market Place, down King Street then back to the Memorial Gardens.
Sarah said: “Although this is the first Pride, we wanted to honour what has gone before us, so the Golden Rainbows will be carrying our banner.
“One of the best things about planning this has been the number of people who told us they have lived in Belper for decades and never expected to see Pride in the streets.
“Then there have been the parents and grandparents whose children are maybe just starting to explore their identities, and who have been really grateful that this event can help give them visibility and confidence.”
Following the street procession, the event will explode into an afternoon of family activities and live entertainment centred on the Memorial Gardens.
There will be stalls to visit, live music, a children’s area, and a café at the Number 28 community hall from 11am with food and drink supplied by Morrisons — just one of many businesses in the town to show support with specially themed decorations.
The whole town has been decked out in pride flags representing the elements of the LGBT+ pride movement, which have been donated by the university.
Sarah said: “The biggest challenge we’ve faced has been a positive one, and that’s just how big the town wanted it to be. Our original idea in February was just to have a picnic, but it has grown and grown.
“The response has been brilliant from the town council, Derbyshire Fire & Rescue, the police, NHS, and loads of other organisations and people who have made incredibly generous donations.”
She added: “Pentrich Brewing Company has even brewed a Pride in Belper ale that will be available in some of the pubs.
“I’ve been to big Pride events in cities where it feels like big business is offering fairly tokenistic, corporate support.
“The way the whole community has come together and engaged with us feels uniquely Belper. Walking down the high street at the moment gives me goosebumps.”
The day will draw to a close with events in Nourish on King Street, Number 28 and other participating venues, and a screening of Pride at the Ritz Cinema.
The comedy film tells the story of how London’s LGBT+ activists who built a solidarity network with a small Welsh community during the miners’ strike of 1984.
Sarah said: “It’s important to mark Pride in small towns as well as cities, because the LGBT+ community is everywhere.
“There will always be work to do, and there’s a long way to go with equality and inclusion, but days like this are a stride in the right direction.”
Souvenir guides and wristbands will be available on the day. For more details visit www.prideinbelper.co.uk.