'It promotes Sheffield as a vibrant and inclusive city' - A look back on Sheffield Pride

Members of SAYiT enjoying Sheffield Pride
Members of SAYiT enjoying Sheffield Pride

A week on from Sheffield Pride, we look back at the colourful and inclusive event which remains both a celebration and a protest for many.

For the 10th consecutive year, members of the LGBT+ community and beyond embarked on the city to march in a colourful and vibrant parade before reaching Endcliffe Park where the festivities continued.

Steve Slack and James Laley with the crowd at Sheffield Pride

Steve Slack and James Laley with the crowd at Sheffield Pride

The parade was lead by proud young people from the Sheena Amos Youth Trust (SAYiT), a charity who promote practical support around LGBT+ life, sexual health, HIV and mental well being, and provide training to different schools, services and organisations to improve knowledge and address discrimination.

The charity helps over 200 LGBT+ young people under the age of 25 each year that may have faced bullying, and have always been a supporter of Sheffield Pride.

Steve Slack, CEO of SAYiT, said: "The young people in SAYiT tell us it is one of the few days of the year they can be who they truly want to be, it's really important to them.They made costumes, banners, placards, it was a real celebration."

Sheffield Pride has remained a free community event year on year, and has shown an increase in popularity since 2008, where it attracted 4,500 people.

Members of SAYiT during the parade down Ecclesall Road

Members of SAYiT during the parade down Ecclesall Road

Each year the event promises to be a safe haven in which members of the LGBT+ community can get support, and enjoy entertainment and activities away from prejudice and discrimination they may face otherwise.

It's organisers, a small committee made up of LGBT+ people, also work hard to promote awareness and education of LGBT+ rights.

Steve added: "It was a lovely event. I'm proud of Sheffield people, it is an inclusive city and it reflects the inclusivity and diversity of Sheffield. It is an understated colourful and vibrant city."

Sheffield Pride recently came under fire by uploading a message on Twitter stating that this year's event was a 'celebration, not a protest' banning 'offensive' placards and political groups.

Members of SAYiT on stage performing at Sheffield Pride

Members of SAYiT on stage performing at Sheffield Pride

The comments faced backlash on social media, as one twitter user wrote: "Pride will always be a protest, until the very last Queer on earth is liberated."

Steve shared the same view: "Pride is both about celebration and protest – a celebration of the amazing contribution LGBT+ people make to this city; a celebration of the LGBT+ people and their allies who have fought to gain greater equality; and a protest which recognises that LGBT+ communities still face prejudice and continue to be discriminated against in this country as well as globally.

"It is also a reminder to those of us who identify as LGBT+ that we have more to do to challenge discrimination and prejudice within our own communities when it comes to issues such as race, disability and transphobia."

Despite a brief downpour on the day, spirits remained high as the audience danced the conga to the music ‘Love Train’, with organisers hailing it a roaring success.

Steve added: "It promotes Sheffield as a vibrant and inclusive city – and its people, whether they are from the LGBT+ communities or not, to be truly accepting and generous of spirit.

"Sheffield people are wonderful, and there's still more that we can do, but we are doing are best."

Members of SAYiT also joined in unison with other attendees to wave rainbow flags in support of other countries across the world where LGBT+ people face prejudice.

As for next year, the members or SAYiT are determined to make it a day to remember, as Steve said: "The young people in the charity are already looking forward to next year’s event and are wanting to have even greater involvement – and given that it is SAYiT’s 20th anniversary we are hoping that they can do something extra special to mark the occasion.

"My own fear is that with the amount of work which goes into organising it and the huge cost of putting on such an event and keeping it free is that it doesn’t happen – and yet it has become such an important part of the Sheffield calendar!"