One year ago, July 6th 2019, Traveller Pride was launched at Pride in London. It was the first time in the UK a group specifically for our communities was recognised at Pride. We had Travellers from across the country (and some visitors from Europe) and a wide range of Travellers. It was a beautiful day which I'll never forget.
For some of us, it was about the celebration and about finally having a space where we were 100% allowed to be both a Traveller and LGBT+ without compromise. For some it was about the launch of Traveller Pride as a group and about the plans we had for the upcoming year. For some it was a good laugh and a piss up. For some, all three.
In the year since, I can believe what we've managed. We've met with ministers, worked with the CPS, given talks at various events, given training to major LGBT+ organisations, opened our helpline, opened a solidarity fund, provided ongoing befriending support to vulnerable members of the community, collaborated with "It's Kushti to Rokker" to create the incredible "Hard Road to Travel" film, Co-organised the London City Hall's "Gypsy Roma Traveller History month" event, and much more that I've probably forgotten. We've also made lots of background progress on some exciting ventures to improve mental health outcomes as well as to make some more tangible, material differences (news on these shortly).
On the right of this photo is Ryan. He wrote the following as a reflection on the day:
My first Pride event was Pride in London 2019 and I was incredibly nervous prior to the big day because I've always had low self esteem and lacked confidence so this was a major step for me.
However, I am so glad I attended because I felt accepted for who I am and the whole event was a wonderful, colourful celebration that made me feel comfortable in my own skin.
Everyone was supportive and accepting and for the first time in many years I was happy being myself and I felt like being different was special rather than something to be scared or ashamed of.
The warm, vibrant and safe atmosphere helped me to feel at ease and I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Pride in London.
I marched in the parade with LGBT Traveller Pride who came together for the very first time in history to take part in Pride in London as a collective.
It was amazing seeing so many people from all different walks of life coming together for the same event.
Meeting so many beautiful, diverse and glorious individuals was such as privilege.
My experience at Pride helped boost my confidence and gave me the inner strength to feel proud of who I am and embrace my differences instead of feeling like I stand out for all the wrong reasons.
I'm now happy to say that I love being me and enjoy being unique and standing out from the crowd as opposed to hating not fitting in and feeling different.
Different is beautiful and being yourself is so important because there's no one else the same as you.
At the end of the day, I realised that the world is full of a variety of people and we should all feel safe and secure being who we are because diversity makes the world go around.
Without Pride in London, I wouldn't have stepped outside of my comfort zone and wouldn't have gained the confidence and self esteem that I have now and for that I will be forever grateful.
In the words of the late and great icon Whitney Houston, "Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all".
Twenty of us marched in total. We had a lot more who wanted to come but felt they couldn't for a number of reasons; nerves, childcare, distance, money etc. Next time we meet we hope to do all we can to remedy these. The group is for everyone. We know we're not perfect, but we're trying to get there. If you think we could do more to reach out to a particular intersection (we need to be more actively pro-trans, or reach out to Scottish Travellers more, for example) then let us know.
We received funding to go from Metro. Without them we'd've still marched but it would have been bedsheets with spray paint on them. Instead, we were clearly the best looking lot there. Since Pride, they've been hugely supportive and were the first group to take us up on the offer of training them to be more Traveller Friendly. It's a relationship I hope thrives and thrives.
I am so grateful to have been able to do this. The people in these photos now mean the world to me. We're very grateful to be the group we are and to be able to stand here and wish ourselves happy birthday. We've already got big plans for next year, but we also want to hear from you about what we ought to do.
Thanks to everyone who has been a part of this, who has supported us from the sidelines, who has donated to us, who wanted to donate but couldn't, who has given us advice, who has sent in words of encouragement and to anyone who has in any way contributed to how glad I feel today to say "We did it, and we carried on, and we'll do it again but bigger".
Love to you all