Keep your dis­tance, but time to take Pride in Wok­ing­ham

The Wokingham Paper - - NEWS - By PHIL CREIGHTON news@wok­ing­ham­pa­per.co.uk

FI­NAL prepa­ra­tions are be­ing made for Wok­ing­ham’s very first Pride event this we­keend.

The event aims to bring to­gether the bor­ough’s LGBTQ+ com­mu­nity. In non­coro­n­avirus times, it would prob­a­bly in­clude a pa­rade and a party, but events have had to be cur­tailed.

How­ever, a so­cially dis­tanced meet-up will be held in Mar­ket Place on Satur­day at 11am.

Those tak­ing part are in­vited to bring a pride flag, ei­ther a rain­bow or the newer pink, blue and white flags which are on dis­play in shops and busi­nesses across Wok­ing­ham.

“A lot of peo­ple have asked me what they rep­re­sent,” said Rachel Bishop-Firth who has been one of the team giv­ing Pride flags out to busi­nesses and churches in the town.

“The pink and blue flag is the Trans­gen­der Pride flag. I’ve been giv­ing them out be­cause of my neigh­bour, who has re­ally helped me through all the stresses of lock­down.

“She’s a trans­gen­der woman, who works as a se­nior IT En­gi­neer and is bring­ing her son up in Wok­ing­ham.

“I’ve re­alised that a lot of peo­ple don’t know much about trans peo­ple, or ex­pect them to be liv­ing ev­ery­day fam­ily lives here in Wok­ing­ham.”

Other ways in which peo­ple can take part in a so­cially-dis­tanced Pride in­cludes tak­ing self­ies and shar­ing them on so­cial me­dia, with a #Wok­ing­hamPride hash­tag. Or­gan­is­ers are also ask­ing peo­ple to hold con­ver­sa­tions about Pride and what it means with friends and neigh­bours, and to lobby lo­cal coun­cil­lors for a real event next year.

Churches are also en­cour­aged to use a prayer spe­cially writ­ten for the event by the Dio­cese of Ox­ford and printed on this page.

Or­gan­is­ers said: “Wok­ing­ham Pride has had warm sup­port from sev­eral of our lo­cal churches.

“If you’re over 18 and­would ap­pre­ci­ate sup­port on mat­ters sur­round­ing sex­u­al­ity, gen­der and faith the LGBTQ+ Chap­laincy ser­vice are here for you, a small group of af­firm­ing vol­un­teers work­ing along­side Ox­ford Dio­cese to pro­vide a lis­ten­ing ear and con­ver­sa­tion.

“You can find out more about their work here: www.ox­ford.angli­can.org/ mis­sion- min­istry/ lgbti- chap­lain­cy­ser­vice/”

Wok­ing­ham Pride has also compiled a list of sup­port ser­vices for those who need sup­port, es­pe­cially fol­low­ing lock­down and the al­leged at­tack in For­bury Gar­dens last month, where three peo­ple died.

They in­clude Wok­ing­ham’s ARC coun­selling ser­vice – email of­fice@ ar­cweb.org.uk or co­or­di­na­tor@ ar­cweb.org.uk. They cur­rently have a long wait­ing list, but there are a num­ber of al­ter­na­tives.

Sup­portU in Read­ing pro­vides sup­port on LGBT+ is­sues and can be con­tacted on 0118 321 9111. Their web­site is at www.sup­portu.org.uk

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