Review: Pride Cymru 2015
Coopers Field, Cardiff
Saturday 15th August 2015
The whole premise of Pride being a celebration of sexuality and gender equality, it has become a national gathering for all those who just want to have some fun and be completely comfortable with their identity, and by doing so show those avert to the LGBTQ community that openness and acceptance is a good thing. Love wins.
It all starts in Cardiff town centre, as it always does. Mardi Gras brings the colour and fun for the first few hours of the day before everything moves to Bute Park for the main festival. Walking through the town centre you know it's a day for Pride as the rainbows flow down Queen Street like a prismatic river and live music permeates the air, with renditions of Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera bouncing off the walls. The weather can't seem to make up its mind at first, which is a shame, but fortunately no rain stops play at all. In fact, even the sun comes out later on! It would be cool to see some rain though, if only to get a real rainbow in the sky.
Photo Credit: Grrl Alex Photography
Upon entering the site there's already so much to do it's hard to tell where to go first! There's fairground rides, food stalls from Street Food Warehouse, a dance tent putting on an event in conjunction with Color Festival (looks familiar!) a cabaret stage and the main stage full of music and laughter, and stalls aplenty with local governmental bodies, businesses and advice centres showing their support for the crowd.
The services represented range from the Armed Forces and Police force, Welsh Government and charities to the NHS and Terrence Higgins trust, and lots of charity and awareness campaigns including a focus on helping young people. It's a great platform for organisations such as these to showcase what they can offer to people and their acceptance of life. It's quite a moving experience to realise how much of an impact the LGBTQ community has had in opening doors to a society that formally considered their sexuality illegal.
There's even faith tents for those open to the idea of homosexuality and religion, which is a big step forward for any church. The sheer variety of people on site is enough to make you realise just how far this movement has come, with families present including children wearing rainbow hats and dogs with rainbow collars, and the feeling on site is one of happiness and fun. There's no need to feel threatened by prejudice or oppression, there's plenty of security and policing helping everyone feel safe, and it's a great place to be.
Photo Credit: Grrl Alex Photography
As the day winds on, the main stage keeps the crowd dancing with a constant range of entertainment that is impossible not to sing along to. Everything from a cappella groups to dance troupes to rugby boots dance and sing across the stage and the MCs/Drag Queens keep the crowd laughing and engaged with their antics. The side of the stage is reserved for a signer doing a stellar job of translating the various banter and lyrics of the performers and it's a superb sight to see everyone dancing and cheering to the music on offer.
Various X Factor entrants deliver strong performances of crowd favourites, Euro-dance groups get the beat going with trancy grooves and the evening is topped off with 80s step aerobic beats from Snap! and former Mis-Teeq and Strictly judge Alesha Dixon keeping the party going until the end with her thumping and sing-along pop hits. We are treated to a medley of musical hits and drag acts on the cabaret stage as various performers from local and national shows play to the crowd with sing-along hits and fun drag acts who are acutely aware of their language due to the age range present (but that won't stop them!).
Walking around the site I felt comfy, relaxed and happy with the festival. I was frequently accosted due to my beard (if you can't tell from my nom de plume, I am somewhat hirsute) and I am always open to hugging (I give good hugs) and this was a place for all of that. I never felt the need to do it nor agitated by propositions, just totally up for it from the jovial revelry. From my experience, it certainly feels like a festival, with the random hugs and omnipresent jocularity. But this is more than a festival; this is an event. It's one that the family can enjoy as evidenced by the amount of pushchairs on site, and it's one for those new to the LGBTQ community as well as those who have stoically represented their sexuality from the start.
You can be who you want to be, who you need to be and who you are here; there's no concern or conviction here. In recent years some LGBTQ followers have deemed Pride to be too commercial an affair in any part of the country, as it represents an overall outlook and is a bit too obvious a statement, but it really is something special. That an event like this can even take place should be cause for celebration, as we live in a world of unpleasant morals and nasty remarks, so don't ever be afraid of who you are. At Pride, I saw people open to their being and totally f***ing happy as a result, they were talking to kids and adults alike, and it was super awesome an experience, genuinely moving and motivating.
Without being too preachy, let me wrap this up for you. I identify as queer in the LGBTQ spectrum, as I love to love and I love those that love, and this event is all about love. About a collection and a distillation of love in modern society, away from antagonising iconoclasm and irreverent axioms. It is a place of celebration, of acceptance and of happiness. But most importantly, this is a place of love.
As a statement, the Pride festival works as a keystone to those opposed to homosexuality and gender equality. For the girls and guys present, it's a place for them to spread their wings and display all their feathers, their passions and their life in it's fullest glory.
This was Cardiff's 2015 Pride Cymru festival, and it shone through an otherwise overcast day weather-wise to create a strong rainbow that could be felt throughout the community and society. Love wins again.
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- Review: Color Festival 2015 @ Splott Warehouse
- Pride Cymru 2015 & A History Of Pride
- How Was Your Pride?
Photo Credits: Grrl Alex Photography & Author