Oldham Gay Pride
It was a privilege to be present at the Oldham Gay Pride with an information and awareness stall. I was supported by a wonderful volunteer who was extremely personable and adept at getting involved.
Recent studies have shown, when compared with the general population, gay and bisexual men, lesbian and transgender individuals are more likely to:
- Use alcohol/drugs
- Have higher rates of substance usage
- Not withhold from alcohol drug use whilst going out
- Experience higher levels of mental health problems often associated with substance use.
Source: Ostrow D.G Stall (2008) and (SAMHSA)
The event was situated in parliament square right in the centre of Oldham to showcase joined up community groups supporting and celebrating LGBT life. Despite the windy weather everyone buckled down and kept their stalls up in true Lancashire spirit.
The parade kicked off the event and this year provided the biggest and the best compared to previous years. The Oldham Owl had prominence on the main float reflecting the wisdom of building good community cohesion and collaboration between people to have fun free from stigma and prejudice.
It was great to have a stall close by the Police with their brightly liveried Pride car and the message to “End Hate Crime” and Greater Manchester Fire Brigade who have fantastic ways of working and recruiting, utilising Stonewall principles. This provided a great opportunity to form improved links and plans to improve two way partnership working.
The Pride mainstage had an assortment of acts: an Elvis impersonator, some flamboyant drag artistes and fantastic support from the Mayor and local Oldham council. It was great to see Age UK feature on one of the stalls who now provide an interesting and fun LGBT walking group. The volunteer coordinator each year has tried to persuade me to come along. I always tell her I might be a bit young for this but as each year passes I might not be able to keep saying NO!
We had many people visit our stall and show a great deal of interest in our new service (ROAR). The main theme was LGBT folk who had had a history of not feeling that they had been able to live life as they had wanted. Some had felt elements of stigma, discrimination and homophobia. This in turn led to low confidence and low self-esteem and the use of alcohol/illicit substance/prescribed substances as coping strategies. It is good that those growing up now have improved life opportunities.
Some mentioned a modern hedonistic lifestyle within current LGBT recreational/pub/club scenes and the feeling of the need to use alcohol/substances “to fit in”. We were able to provide information about how the ROAR service can support them.
I look forward to many more events supporting and utilising the strengths of our ex-clients, volunteers and peer mentors who want to encourage others to get support like they did.
Community Development Worker