THE FIRST Wokingham Pride has been taking place today, online and with a socially distanced gathering in Market Place.
Members and allies of the gay community – LGBTQ+ – gathered in the town centre to wave flags and celebrate the borough’s diversity.
Guests included borough council leader Cllr John Halsall and Wokingham Town Council leader Cllr Imogen Shepherd-Dubey.
The simple event was a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and it is hoped that there will be a proper one next year.
Pride is usually marches, parades and festivities, but these have been placed on hold due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. But businesses and families across the borough joined in, displaying flags in windows, writing messages of support and sharing empowering images on social media.
Organiser Lizzie Bishop said: “It’s really important to me that everyone gets involved and we, as a council and as a community, really push diversity and celebrate it in Wokingham.
“It’s quite exciting to see everyone getting involved and it makes me excited for next year – we could do an even bigger event, and just celebrate and push diversity forward.”
While the numbers were affected by the coronavirus, Ms Bishop says that it bodes well for future Pride events.
“I hope that it just really encourages all members of LGBT and the trans community in Wokingham and throughout the town and the borough that they feel accepted and welcome in our town. That we don’t have any hate or anger towards it and that we really celebrate it from a government point of view as well as just a community point of view.”
This was echoed by the council leaders.
Wokingham Borough Council leader Cllr John Halsall said that it was a shame that a Pride march wasn’t able to have been held today. “It would actually have done a lot of good,” he said.
“I’m delighted to be here, absolutely delighted.”
And Cllr Imogen Shepherd DuBey said: “We totally want to promote equalities in this town. The whole of our communities have got to be included in everything we do. And we want to be sure that we are an inclusive and tolerant society. That’s part of what Pride is about and I’m very happy to be here.”
In a statement on behalf of Wokingham Borough Council, mayor Cllr Malcolm Richards said: “I am honoured to champion the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Our work with our partners to promote equality and good relations is stronger than ever and I’m proud of the inclusive and diverse borough that Wokingham is.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you all to share this experience with us online.”