Happy Valley Pride is an eclectic, alternative and inclusive, week-long festival for everyone. Celebrating LGBT+ life in Hebden Bridge and surrounding areas. This year, it will be taking place earlier than in previous years, during the week of 22 to 28 July 2019.
Founded in 2015, the festival has rapidly grown in size and stature – last year we attracted over 3,000 attendees across 15 events and 7 days. Set in the stunning location of the Calder Valley (recently recognised in National Geographic’s Cool List 2019) we’ve built an enviable reputation for creating a distinctive, LGBT+ arts-focused programme.
The decision to move the festival was taken to guarantee the calibre of artists and performers now expected of Happy Valley Pride, as the previous dates were close to other key festivals, notably Edinburgh Festival.
Our Chair and Festival Programmer, Tim Whitehead:
“In the last couple of years, we have managed to attract an incredibly diverse and reputable range of artists. Camille O’Sullivan (recently voted in the Top 25 Jools Holland’s performances) headlined last year, due to an unusual change in schedule. In 2016, BBC Radio 4 regular, Zoe Lyons was another coup and a total sell out. We were aware of other artists we’d loved to welcome to Happy Valley Pride, yet missed out simply because they were booked for Edinburgh. We’re now planning a superb week, which we’re excited will offer something special for everyone and offer our best Pride yet.
At the heart of this, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to to the local community and businesses who have supported us in funding the festival, such as local artist, Kate Lycett, whose unique artwork donation attracted national interest via our art auction.”
Which brings us on to the first confirmed event for 2019 – the auspicious return of legendary London-club night, Duckie. Having lured them to Yorkshire from their Vauxhall Tavern residency – last year’s inaugural visit to The Trades Club sold out in 48hrs post-announcement. Its cult cabaret line up of renowned performance artists is bound to guarantee Happy Valley Pride will stand above the Pride crowd.
With a growing Committee of volunteer trustees and loyal festival team, we’ve quickly built a strong reputation and year-round profile via social nights, community involvement and regular Trades’ Club fundraiser nights. Working alongside local schools and other community groups, we seek to raise understanding and acceptance of the LGBT+ community via art projects.
With plenty still to do, those interested in getting involved please visit the ‘Get Involved‘ page for more info.
Kate is an award winning transgender performer, activist, theatre and cabaret maker. She brought her fantastic show “Hayley and Me” to the festival last year and also worked with us when we adopted her #StandByYourTrans campaign to help spread the message of diversity and tolerance throughout Calderdale.
In 2016 Kate she founded Trans Creative, a trans arts company whose aim is to help trans people tell their stories. As Artistic Director, Kate has just completed her second, hugely successful, Trans Vegas festival, the UK’s first Trans Arts Festival.
Her work is autobiographical, entertaining and political showing pride and strength in being transgender and includes; the award-winning Big Girl’s Blouse with its successful twitter campaign #StandByYourTrans ( winning Manchester Pride’s, “Spirit of the Parade” Award, 2018) she has also created several well received cabaret performances; “A Short History of My Tits”, “No Pride” and “Hayley and Me”. With support from Arts Council England, she is currently touring her critically acclaimed one woman show “You’ve Changed” in the UK and across Europe, following its premiere at the Edinburgh Festival.
Happy Valley Pride Chair, Tim Whitehead said“Having just worked with Kate on Trans Vegas, I know how lucky we are that she has agreed to be our second ever patron along with Peter Tatchell. As one of the most committed and visible Trans people in the country, I hope Kate’s involvement with us sends a positive message to the Trans community in our LGBTQ+ family. Kate will be joining us for the weekend events at Happy Valley Pride.”
It would seem our programme cover was well timed, today’s news
It’s been a busy year for Happy Valley Pride and local schools. Thanks to a generous grant from the Hebden Bridge Rotary Club we were able to extend our annual Art Competition to four schools, Riverside Junior School, Central Street Infant and Nursery School, Stubbings Infant School, Calder High School and Todmorden High School.
Riverside Junior School held special assemblies as part of their Rainbow Week. The children learn about anti-bullying and the diversity of families in our local community. The message that ‘Everyone Matters!’ is prominently featured on one of the winning Top Hats for Pride featured in the photos, below. Mrs Taylor chose eight winning hats, one from each class. As you can see, the colourful rainbow designs show how creative the pupils are. The school’s excellent engagement with diversity has been recognised by Stonewall.
Ms Tregellas has been busy with the children at Central Street Infant and Nursery School, with a mini parade and more fantastic art. Ms Tregellas is also a volunteer for Happy Valley Pride and uses her creative talents to include local children and families in the festival.
Stubbings Infant School has joined in the fun for the first time this year and we hope to have the children help us to make impressive and colourful artwork for the festival each year from now on.
Todmorden High has formed a group for young people at the school. The group held their own assembly about LGBT+ in the school and hope to inform and educate pupils and staff about issues affecting them. I was fortunate to meet the group and talk about LGBT+ equality over the recent past and how to develop allies amongst their peers. Mr Freeman has facilitated impressive LGBT+ themed artwork with the help of Mrs Greaves.
Calder High has an established Barnardo’s Equality Ambassadors (BEAMS) group. Calder High students have produced impressive art based on the theme of diversity along with bunting. We aim to visit the BEAMS team next autumn and offer ideas and support.
Many thanks to all the staff and pupils who have contributed art work to Happy Valley Pride this year. We are so impressed with the hats, drawings, paintings and awareness of LGBT+. We will be displaying some of the art works as part of our Information Fair on Saturday 27th July 2019 on Bridge Gate, Hebden Bridge near the main stage. So, come along and admire the remarkable artistic talent of our local children and young people.
I wanted to share my thoughts on why May 17 – International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia #IDAHOBIT matters in 2019.
I’ve put a short video together, sharing my experiences as a straight ally and on supporting the LGBT+ community since the mid-80’s. Standing up and calling out those who cannot understand that #loveislove is key to stamping out prejudice.
Happy Valley Pride is an eclectic, alternative and inclusive, week-long festival for everyone. Celebrating LGBT+ life in Hebden Bridge and surrounding areas it will be taking place, earlier than in previous years, during the week of 22 to 28 July 2019.
Founded in 2015, the festival has rapidly grown in size and stature – last year attracting over 3,000 attendees across 15 events and 7 days. Set in the stunning location of the Calder Valley (recently recognised in National Geographic’s Cool List 2019) they have built an enviable reputation for creating a distinctive, LGBT+ arts-focused programme.
Having already announced the crowd-pleasing return of legendary London-club night, Duckie as early as January (after last year’s hugely successful sell out in just 48 hrs!). Further performances are now confirmed and creating one huge LGBT+ buzz about Hebden Bridge town and beyond.
Straight from being a smash success of Edinburgh Fringe 2018, Jonny Woo’s All Star Brexit Cabaret, will bring Jonny Woo and Richard Thomas’s ‘sequins and satire’ to Happy Valley Pride, in their uproarious, yet seriously glamorous satire about the referendum of 2016. Jonny Woo, the ‘king and queen’ of London’s alternative scene, and musical theatre’s ‘enfant terrible’ and creator of ‘Jerry Springer The Musical, Richard Thomas have created a brilliant score, full of unforgettable songs including ‘Referendum-dumb’, ‘Swivel Eyed Loon’ and ‘The Ballot Box Ballad’.
Continuing the comedic theme, Suzi Ruffell makes a stop-off from her extensive UK tour and various tv and radio appearances to join the Happy Valley party. Regarded as one of best up and coming acts on the circuit Suzi’s innovative style captivates audiences with her engrossing tales of social ineptitude. Lauded as ‘a real stand up gem’ by The Guardian, this young independent woman celebrates her working class roots with a sideways look at the world.
Once again, Happy Valley Pride have aimed to please with this exciting mix of of the uplifting and alternative and are promising even more to come with another crammed-campful of week-long entertainment.
“With new dates and a committed team of volunteer trustees, we couldn’t be more delighted at how the festival is coming together this year and will be continuing to work with the whole community, particularly local businesses and schools to create a unique atmosphere of LGBT+ understanding and acceptance across the Calder Valley”.Tim Whitehead Chair
With a growing Committee of volunteer trustees and loyal festival team, they’ve quickly built a strong reputation and year-round profile via social nights, community involvement and regular Trades’ Club fundraiser nights. With plenty still to do, those interested in getting involved email [email protected]
Press enquiries via [email protected]
A selection of images and assets can be downloaded here
Tickets will be on sale mid/end June
The media in the last few years has shown both documentaries and drama featuring trans people. ‘Leo: Becoming a Trans Man (BBC, 2017), showed the personal journey of a young man in a way that was relatable and showed the everyday struggles of realising one’s true gender. ITV’s ‘Butterfly’ was described as a ‘game changer’ by campaigners, as the often-debated topic of childhood transition was broached in a three-part drama. Complex issues of childbirth and gender identity were explored in the BBC’s ‘The Pregnant Dad’ (2018). This is just a small sample of the myriad programmes, radio broadcasts and newspaper and magazine articles focusing on the trans and non-binary community.
Is all this media exposure and public debate a good thing? It certainly feels that trans visibility is now ‘coming of age’ after many decades. The late Julia Grant’s transition followed on the BBC2 documentary ‘A Change of Sex’ (1979) was one of the first programmes to attempt to explain gender change to a UK audience, when 9 million people tuned in. The public is now aware of trans and non-binary people in a way unparalleled in my lifetime.
So why, as a gay man and trans ally does this searing media exposure and discussion of private identity seems so familiar? Back in the 1980s, with the AIDS crisis in full, horrific effect, gay men and lesbians were the number one scapegoat for all society’s ills. Bisexuals were ignored, a problem both society and the LGBT+ community still need to address, but that’s another blog! We were the vectors of disease, we would unpick the fabric of decency and moral society. We were ‘…swirling around in the cesspit of their own making’ according to ‘God’s Copper’, Manchester’s Chief Constable James Anderton. There was a horrific torrent of abuse and discrimination aimed at a vulnerable community. There was no effective treatment for HIV prior to 1996 when combination therapy arrived, and so HIV/AIDS was effectively a death sentence, the epidemic ‘…became a means of reinforcing existing prejudices and discrimination towards gay men as a whole’ (Jones, 2015). With no legal recognition of partnerships, bereaved people could find they were suddenly homeless as they were not on a mortgage or rent contract and might be excluded from their partner’s funeral by a homophobic family. Lesbians were equally at risk, with no protection from being fired for being LGBT+ and victims of discrimination and violence. The tabloid press revelled in hate speech, with headlines about the ‘Gay Plague’ (Braidwood, 2018).
LGBT+ people in Manchester responded in huge numbers to this climate of hatred, starting in March 1988 ‘Not Going Shopping – Stop the Clause’ (Ward, 2019) with Liberation 1991 and other events characterised by protest and demands to see us as people with human rights first and foremost. This community action it could be argued, began to change public attitudes from an all-time low to the current acceptance of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. This recent history is all too easily forgotten in the party atmosphere of Manchester’s more recent pride events.
It seems to me that, just as LGB people were used as a convenient scapegoat for society’s ills, or as a way of garnering political points, trans and non-binary people are being demonised in exactly the same way. Donald Trump, arguably the most powerful leader on earth has launched an attack on transgender people’s health care, employment and more, with the very existence of trans and non-binary people denied by government (Green, Benner & Pear, 2018).
In the UK, toxic debate has seen women’s rights and trans rights set against one another. No one would argue that women’s rights are secured; almost fifty years since the Equal Pay Act (1970), women still face discrimination and casual misogyny, as well as significant gender pay gaps (Holder et al. 2018). However, trans and non-binary people face extreme levels of discrimination, abuse and casual transphobia. The trans community needs allies to challenge this and support trans and non-binary people’s wellbeing and mental health as they live their lives under often extreme stress. The process of initial transition is challenging enough, with long waiting times for gender identity clinics in excess of two years (Westcott, 2018).
Stonewall reported that trans and non-binary people are likely to experience abuse, with one in eight physically attacked by a colleague or customer at work, a third discriminated against when visiting a café, bar or restaurant and a quarter of trans people in a relationship experiencing domestic abuse. (Bachmann & Gooch, 2017).
With this extreme level of discrimination and violence, relentless press attention and political venom, I feel we have a moral responsibility to stand with our trans and non-binary siblings. After all, it has always been trans people of colour, those facing double discrimination, who have sparked profound change for the LGBT+ community. Icons such as Martha P. Johnson, present at the Stonewall riots, which gave the UK charity its name, rubbed shoulders with butch lesbians, male sex workers and homeless youth (Schlaffer, 2016). Martha was murdered in 1992, a crime ignored by the law enforcement agency (Lee, 2017). It is, of course true that cis-women are discriminated against, raped and murdered too. However, the risk to trans and non-binary people is extraordinarily high, and the sheer volume of crimes should shock us all.
Amidst the intellectual discussions of women’s rights versus trans rights, it is important to remember that this is notan intellectual discussion, it affects the everyday experiences of trans and non-binary people. Just as in the 1980s and 1990s LGB people were discussed as if they were a sexual oddity, ‘perverts’ dehumanised with no real right to a place in modern society, so trans and non-binary people are discussed today. This impacts on people’s self-respect, and therefore their mental health. Negative attitudes directly lead to an increase in discrimination, violence and murder; we must take responsibility for recognising this as a first step to changing society, just as we have done previously with LGB rights.
I strongly believe that trans and non-binary people have no choice in their gender identity, in the same way I have no choice about my sexuality. To deny one’s true self is crippling, and often fatal. We must made gender diversity as socially acceptable as the diversity in sexuality if everyone is to live lives that reach their full potential. We also have a debt to trans and non-binary people for their key role is helping us as LGB people to achieve legal equality and acceptance by society.
So, what have you done to support your trans and non-binary siblings lately?Sean Pert
*”Stand By Your Trans”
Following Kate O’Donnell’s inspiring performance and participation during Happy Valley Pride 2018, we embarked on a local poster campaign, across Hebden Bridge and our surrounding Calderdale towns, in support of Kate/Trans Creative’s stance to #StandByYourTrans
“Shall not promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.Local Government Act, 1988 – Prohibition on promoting homosexuality by teaching or by publishing material.
Put yourself in the place of a 13 year old in the Lake District in 1988. The world was in the midst of the AIDS crisis and homophobic articles were common in the national press.
I was the 13 year old that Mrs Thatcher was trying to “protect”. Sadly for her it had the opposite effect.
Gay rights didn’t make it to the Lakes, so TV was the only connection to the outside world. Bringing this revolting clause presented a call to arms, organisations like Stonewall appeared and words Gay and Pride were bandied around. I’d always known I was different but now I wasn’t alone.
It couldn’t have been a better signpost for me, if Margaret T thought homosexuality was wrong, it must be right.
That isn’t to say I had an easy time of it. The 80s were dark and by bringing homophobia to the masses, we all copped it one way or another.
Section 28 was only repealed 15 years ago. We need to remember that our previous Prime Minister was incredibly vocal in keeping it until he did a U-turn in 2009. Our current “leader” has consistently voted against LGBT rights.