In 2015, shocked by a piece of homophobic graffiti in the town, four strangers from Hebden Bridge met in a pub to brainstorm ideas. Happy Valley Pride was born and the strangers became a team.
The brief was simple: promote equality through art and education.
Word spread fast, and the team of volunteers grew bigger and bigger. People travelled from Todmorden, Mytholmroyd, Halifax and even further, to give their time and passion creating something truly positive for the community. I had taken on the role of volunteer coordinator, and I was overwhelmed by the number of applications from people wanting to help – and by the vast array of skills that people had to offer.
The first festival took place in the summer of 2016 and there was so much momentum we were able to get local hero Sally Wainwright to cut the ribbon. Over the years, our team has grown and grown. Some volunteers joined the Board, some help out during the festival, and some are ready to lend a hand whenever it’s needed. I hope that because of what we do people feel supported, connected and part of something truly unique and special. I certainly do.
Alongside the hard graft of putting on the festival, many friendships have been formed. Happy Valley Pride is entirely volunteer led and run, and every single person who has ever been involved should be immensely proud of what they have helped to create. This Volunteer Week we want to say thank you to every single one of you, you are truly amazing.
I can’t wait to work with you all again soon. I miss you all dearly, especially at the moment.
On Friday 5 June at 8pm the ‘enormously talented’ (BBC), ‘musical powerhouse’ (Chortle) Kirsty Newton will be back to lead us all in a life affirming singalong party, and this time we’re going back to the 80s!
There has never been a more vital time to make sure you are looking after your mental health. There are so many hints and tips around on maintaining your mental wellbeing during these difficult times. Remember there are no hard and fast rules! Everyone is different, we are all coping with different challenges and living in very different circumstances. So here I offer some of the common themes I have noticed and offer up some of my own thoughts.
Pick and choose what you think may be useful for you! Anything you do will be beneficial. Do what you can and don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day. Tomorrow will be a better day.
Obviously it is important to keep up-to-date with developments but it is useful to set limits. The constant flow of information is overwhelming online, on TV, on the radio – the news is everywhere. Perhaps catch updates in the morning then again in the evening. You won’t miss anything if you are not continually monitoring the situation. Also stick to reputable news sources – that friend on Facebook may mean well but sharing unfounded conspiracy theories really doesn’t help anyone!
Maintain a routine
Everyone has experienced a huge shift in lifestyle in recent times and this has a significant impact on your overall health. Try to maintain some kind of routine. Go to bed at the same time (ish) each night, try and stick to three meals a day, go for a lunchtime walk etc. If you notice your routine slipping, try and get it back on track as quickly as possible. For example, I noticed I was starting to have lunch earlier and earlier each day, when it got as early as 10.30am I realised I needed to reset my routine!
Try and think of three things each day you are grateful for. Doing this regularly can help you feel more positive and optimistic. Feeling ‘grateful’ isn’t always easy, especially at the moment, but focusing on the good things in your life really will give you a boost each day. I try to take a few minutes each day to write down a brief list of things I am grateful for or happy about. Often it is something simple as seeing a deer in the woods, that there is a new series of Schitt’s Creek on Netflix, or I managed to get out for a run.
Organize your mind
Writing down what you have to do each day will help you plan more efficiently and have a more productive day. Writing it down gets it out of your head, and a list often seems more manageable than random thoughts. It doesn’t have to be detailed or extensive. I try and create a quick note on my phone of what I need to do each day and also what I want to do each day.
Organize your space
We all have different living situations. Living alone or with others, try and ensure a sense or organization where possible. You don’t have to be ultra-tidy but keeping on top of household chores will stop things becoming overwhelming down the line. If you live with others and you have some space for yourself, try to create a bit of sanctuary where you can go to relax and unwind on your own.
Technology is a wonderful thing and helps us all keep connected. You can video call friends and family, join virtual quizzes and much more. You can also keep in touch with a simple text or WhatsApp. If you are really old fashioned you can even phone someone. However, all this can also be overwhelming so don’t feel bad about not joining everything or jeeping in constant touch with everyone you have ever met. Like most things in life, it is about balance! And this relates directly to the next tip…
Do not compare yourself to others
You may think everyone is coping with the current situation better than you. It seems to me everyone is using their spare time to bake banana bread, do all the DIY jobs they have been putting off, learn a new skill etc. I have mainly been watching Peaky Blinders and Schitt’s Creeks – and that is fine! What people put out on their on social media is rarely truly representative of how people really feel. Everyone will have their ups and downs.
Whatever that means for you! That may be a one-mile jog or running a half marathon. Maybe it is a Joe Wicks PE class or maybe it is dancing around your living room. Trying to do a bit more each time is great, but then if you skip a day that is fine as well. The key thing is to just to keep moving.
Everything in moderation
Alcohol and food sales through the roof and it is unsurprising we are seeking comfort in a glass of wine and slice of pizza. When this becomes a bottle of wine and full pizza every night it may be time to cut back a little (I am speaking from experience). Try and keep the treats for the weekend for example. Though again don’t worry too much if you slip up. Just try and get back into a sensible routine.
Get some head space
Take some time each day to give yourself some headspace. This could be meditation, mindfulness, brain training or whatever works for you. If you haven’t tried these things before, give it a go. Give yourself a dedicated slot just for your head – even just five minutes will make a difference. There is lots of information online and loads of apps available. I try and do a short hypnosis session every day, using an app to have 30 minutes to relax and think positive thoughts and I always feel better afterwards.
Give yourself a break
Working from home, trying your best at home schooling, maintaining your studying or whatever it is you may be doing, regular breaks will help you feel refreshed and come back to your tasks with more energy and focus. With us all spending most of our time at home, it can be hard to separate things out. Just going to a different room, or in to the garden if you have one or sticking your head out the window if you don’t, can really help.
Really, give yourself a break!
This is the most important thing! GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re having a difficult day. We all have to adjust to the “new normal”. What is happening is a big deal. There will be good days and there will be bad days. Don’t beat yourself up if you feel low, or if you haven’t achieved everything you wanted to or if you ended up eating the entire packet of hob nobs. It happens, so pick yourself up and move on.
Although it may not seem like it at the moment this will pass! It will take time and things will be different on the other side, but it is good to look forward, start planning and give yourself some longer term goals.
Finally, if you need to reach out for more support
There are many organizations ready and able to help if you do need support. If it does all feel a bit overwhelming don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Despite lockdown, the world is getting ready to mark once again International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT). Created in 2004, IDAHOBIT draws the attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics. This year will, of course, be quite different, but by no means any less vital. The pandemic affects every single person, however the LGBTQ+ community may be experiencing increased discrimination and are disproportionately impacted by the wider healthcare and wellbeing implications of the current situation.
Manchester based LGBT Foundation has reported a huge spike in calls to their crisis line during the lockdown. Calls include those in isolation experiencing violence or discrimination with abusive or unsupportive families. More people are concerned about not being able to attend sexual health appointments. Many just need someone to talk to.
They have a number of services to help support vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ community during this time including a Coronavirus Hub. It provides a range of tools and resources to support the LGBTQ+ community during this time.
Did you know – May 17 was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.
Happy Valley Pride present our first ever live online event – Kirsty’s Poptastic Piano Singalong – Gay Anthems Special!
Many of you will remember Kirsty Newton from the opening night of Happy Valley Pride last year. The ‘enormously talented’ (BBC), ‘musical powerhouse’ (Chortle) will blast away your lockdown blues when she leads everyone in a singalong set of your favourite gay anthems – live on Friday 8 May at 8pm.
You vote for your favourite song! We will post a list of gay anthems for you to choose from later this week. Once voting is over we will provide a lyric sheet for you to download so you can sing along with Kirsty.
The event is free, a link will be posted on our Facebook page on the day, please check back for more details.
Until then stay safe, stay at home and we’ll see you for a big LGBTQ+ knees up!
During this time of social distancing and self-isolation, it is vital to keep safe and important to stay positive, active and entertained. Happy Valley Pride has produced some useful links and resources to help.
We will keep adding to the list over the coming weeks and encourage you to provide your suggestions and recommendations on our Facebook page.
The resources are listed are free to access – simply click the links below for more information.
Healthy Minds Calderdale – Calderdale’s local mental health charity is led by people who have personal experience of emotional distress. They have a number of services available during this time.
LGBT Foundation – Delivering advice, support and information services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) communities. They have a dedicated page for specific advice related to services available during the current crisis.
Stonewall – The website includes information on how LGTBTQ+ organisations are coming together during the current crisis. They also have a Stonewall home learning pack for teachers and parents.
Dolly Trolley – Join in with Drag Aerobics on Facebook and Instagram every Wednesday, 7.30 to 8.30pm.
To The Max Fitness – Free online sessions are available from Happy Valley Pride supporter Max.
OUT with Suzi Ruffell – The fantastic lesbian comedian Suzi Ruffell, who played Happy Valley Pride last year, launches a new podcast on the 6 April. She looks at the lives of LGBTQ+ people, coming out and finding your place in the world – for anyone has ever felt like an outsider.
Beautiful Thing – The fantastic film from 1996 by Jonathan Harvey is now available on Channel 4.
BFI Flare at home – you can experience selections from BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival’s 2020 programme from the comfort of your couch with a free 14-day trial.
Rafiki – All 4 – A moving drama exploring attitudes and laws around LGBTQ+ rights in Kenya. The daughters of two opposing politicians fall in love in this award-winning film. In English and Swahili/subs.
Feel Good – All 4 – New LGBTQ+ comedy drama created by and starring Mae Martin.
Sugar Rush – All 4 – Classic drama series based on the novel by Julie Burchill. Teenager Kim moves to Brighton and develops an earth-shattering, hormone-surging crush on her new best friend, Sugar.
Queer As Folk – All 4 – Ground breaking drama from the nineties that chronicles the lives of three gay men living in Manchester’s gay village around Canal Street.
Years and Years – BBC iPlayer – From Russell T Davies, an ordinary family contend with an uncertain future in that begins in 2019 and propels the characters 15 years forward into an unstable world.
Club Quarantine – A daily online queer party – more details on their Instagram account.
Jinkx Monsoon Playlist – Friend of Happy Valley Pride and RuPaul’s Drag Race winner, Jinkx Monsoon present their quarantine playlist (spotify:playlist:6RlQ9BoPrvLp0uFWfXnHZ)
Face of Frida – A look at the life and work of artist Frida Kahlo.
Vox Tox – daily pearls of wisdom from Sandi Togsvig
OutSavvy – the UK’s ticketing company, proudly raising money for LGBTQ+ charities. They have info on loads of great lockdown events such as virtual Cabaret from Annabelszki & Friends, Isolation Bingo with Charlie Hides, a Big Online Quiz from Pride in Surrey and much more… Updated regularly.
UPDATE – THESE EVENTS HAVE BEEN CANCELLED OR POSTPONED
Happy Valley Pride announces a ‘Big Night Out’ series of community events.
These special one-off activities will take place all year round to complement the main festival at the end of July. They will be focussed on bringing the community together for a special night of entertainment.
The first three ‘Big Night Out’ events have been announced.
Writing Anne Lister: An LGBTQ+ History
Hebden Bridge Town Hall on Wednesday 18 March at 7pm. Tickets £3 here or on the door.
Writer and academic Dr Jill Liddington, whose research into the diaries of Anne Lister inspired the BBC/HBO series Gentleman Jack, will provide an insight into the life and times this pioneer. The 19th-century businesswoman, mountaineer, world traveller, and science enthusiast is often called “the first modern lesbian”. Her edition, Female Fortune: land, gender & authority: the Anne Lister Diaries 1833-36 (1998, 2019), inspired scriptwriter Sally Wainwright to write Gentleman Jack.
And Then We Danced
in partnership with Hebden Bridge Film Festival
Hebden Bridge Picture House on Sunday 29 February at 5.30pm. Tickets available here.
A special screening of the award-wining LGBT+ film. This passionate and beautiful coming-of-age tale about forbidden love in the Georgian ballet caused violent protests during screenings in Georgia. It will bring the 2020 Hebden Bridge Film Festival to a close.
Kirsty’s Poptastic Piano Singalong: Gay Anthems Special!
Drink, Market Street, Hebden Bridge on Friday 17April at 8pm. Free entry
Join Kirsty for a special singalong and lots of laughs where the audience pick the songs. Kirsty is a veteran performer on the musical comedy scene, having toured with award-winning comedians Paul Merton, Rich Hall, and dozens more
Tim Whitehead, Happy Valley Pride Chair said:
“We are thrilled to announce a new series of nights out, bringing the same high-quality events that Happy Valley Pride festival has become renowned for to the rest of the year. An eclectic mix of performance, club nights, talks and film screenings, each ‘Big Night Out’ will bring the community together for a very special night of entertainment.”
Monthly social events have been a key part of Happy Valley Pride since we started back in 2016. Through these get-togethers many friendships have formed and continue to flourish.
This year we will be doing things a little differently. We will be running exciting, year-round events, as well as the main festival in July and we will share these as soon as possible.
Our friends at the brand new Out in the Valley will be hosting regular socials. We hope many of you can attend their kickoff on Thursday 20 February (8pm at the White Lion) and take part in future activities. We also encourage you to attend the Flood Fundraiser at The Trade Club on Friday 28 February. There is a lot going on, and now more than ever it is important we get together and celebrate the fantastic place we call home.